Sometimes the significance of a trip doesn’t truly register until days, weeks, months or perhaps even years later. I have experienced this phenomenon with my early travels — how India still affects me today even though I traveled there 30 years ago, for example. I sensed a similar outcome today in Greenland. I felt that my time here with my son would continue to live with me for years and decades to come.
As if she knew what I was thinking, an elderly Norwegian lady looked at 18-year-old Alex and said, “Your dad is giving you a trip that you’ll have for a lifetime.” We were sitting in the Panorama Lounge enjoying cocktails (and mocktails for Alex) while piano music played, just before dinner.
What greater gift could you give a child? My gift to Alex (and to both of my children) is exposure to the broader world. And while I’m uncertain that all travel has a profound impact on travelers, expedition cruising certainly does. This is particularly apparent on Silversea. While the company maintains continuity with its “classic” fleet, Silversea’s expedition voyages seem to have a bigger impact on my own intellect and emotion than do the classic ocean voyages. Each expedition proves to be life-changing to me in some regard — maybe not 180-degree life-changing — but there are moments of illumination, epiphanies, if you will. I am sure it is the same with Alex.
“Seeing the way that the people lived in Russia was eye-opening,” he told me a few days ago. We had been talking about another Silversea expedition, one of our best trips ever, sailing from Alaska to Siberia on Silver Discoverer.
On that trip, we saw droves of wildlife — punctuated on one of our last days by hundreds of killer whales one morning, a spectacle so out-of-the-ordinary that the captain stopped Silver Discoverer and maintained her position for a few hours. I could have sat and watched all day long.
We also met native people in small villages. At each port of call, we were warmly welcomed by locals, and I realized that we were a long, long way from Moscow and the politics there.
Today, we’d meet Greenlandic locals in a village called Saqqaq. Home to the culture by the same name, the Saggaq existed from about 2500 BCE until around 800 BCE. The frozen remains of a Saqqaq dubbed “Inuk” were found in western Greenland and were DNA sequenced to reveal that he had brown eyes, black hair and shovel-shaped teeth. He lived about 4,000 years ago and was related to native populations in northeastern Siberia, which coincidentally is the region I just referred to in the previous paragraph.
The Saqqaq culture lived in small tents and hunted seals, seabirds and other marine animals. They still hunt seal today, and we saw plenty skinned and hung out to dry.
Shortly after coming ashore, locals welcomed us with coffee and cakes. A lady dressed in a local costume showed us how she sewed her own clothing for her family, particularly her grandchildren. There were lots of kids out on what must have been a good day for them weatherwise. Overcast and gray, it wasn’t what I would call a pretty day, but the weather reflected the mood of the village in some ways — peaceful and relaxed is how I would describe it.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Saqqaq, because there really isn’t that much to do there. The locals were friendly, unaccustomed to tourists, all of us wrapped in our red Silversea parkas. Alex and I visited a small church and took a look at what Stefan, Silver Explorer’s Expedition Team Leader, thinks may just be the northernmost greenhouse in the world. Perhaps.
A few more photos from our day in Saqqaq.
In the bay at Saqqaq were beautiful icebergs. We were getting closer to the source, which we would reach tomorrow. First, however, we’d do an evening zodiac cruise to Equip Sermia Glacier. It was misty, and I didn’t want to risk ruining my camera, but the glacier and ice-strewn waters were beautiful. We returned to Silver Explorer for a wonderful dinner.
I thought this might be a good time to show you a few photos of our suite. We are in 704, the Owner’s Suite. We have two rooms, a living room and a bedroom, with a large marbled bathroom and a walk-in closet. Our balcony is huge, and can be entered from either the living room or bedroom. It is wonderful to have such access to the elements. We step outside to photograph icebergs, whales and who knows, maybe the Northern Lights if the weather improves. It just may. We have three more nights to go, and our fingers are crossed.