On The Road Again
Submitted September 7:
A dirty little secret. Its 95 degrees Fahrenheit outside just now.
I guess I am not in Tasilliq anymore! The last weekend we waited for the weather to clear but the view was the same as always - rain and fog. Sunday wasn’t even nice, a change for the books. Monday was worse! It was snowy and rainy. I had booked a ticket to leave Tasilliq on wednesday so we hoped that Tuesday would be better. When I woke up on Tuesday morning the view was blue skies, no clouds and majestic snow capped mountains all around. The autumn was officially here, and frosty nights would be coming very soon. Tuesday was my last chance to go and finish off the two sites to the south that had not had enough batteries installed.
We slunk down the hill to the helo pad to ask if there was the possibility of a mission in the afternoon. Manuela the helo coordinator said there was a good chance that we would get to go. Fantastic! I took a flight over to Kulusuk to finish completely prepping the gear, while Thomas cleared up loose ends in Tasilliq. I hope to go back to Tasilliq, for all the frustration of the weather there and the expense of the hotel, it was a lovely lovely spot with good people. The hotel manager said as I was leaving that Tonie van Dam (U. Luxembourg) was one of the first people ever to stay at one of his hotels! I am a little sad that we only got to talking as I was leaving. I guess I know the pilots and folks who help with logistics better.
Over in Kulusuk the hotel manager found me in the firehouse, where the last of our equipment was stashed.
“You’re staying at the hotel tonight?” he asked.
“Yeah, just for the one night.” I said
“Okay I will give you a lift to the hotel.”
“It’s okay I will be a few hours here working.”
“Okay” he said.
Three hours later I went through to the other part of the airport and he was still waiting! I felt so bad. During the day I was working with people to get equipment shipped back to the Kiss Office in Kangerlussuaq on the west coast. One of the ladies working on the cargo at the airport had decent English but didn’t like to use it. When we were doing paperwork she kept on asking for “cazzerstis” At first I couldn’t figure out what she was wanting.
“Cazzerstis, cazzerstis” she said, waving her hands in my direction. No, waving her hand in the direction of her cigarettes on the table, next to where I was sitting - ah… Cancer Sticks....
Throughout the day the weather was clear, but the winds were gusting faster and faster. The expected phone call came at 4:30pm. No flying today, but that Thomas was coming over to Kulusuk. We finished off doing cargo and then I prepared for the next morning and my flight to Iceland in the afternoon. I was concerned that I couldn’t fit my bags into the 20kg weight limit on the flight to Reykjavik.
On Wednesday morning, Manuela phoned that it was probable that Thomas could do the work in the afternoon. One person, instead of two would mean less weight and make the missions even easier. As my flight came round at 2pm the airport became very crowded. Where did all these people come from? Three flights left at the same time, one north for Constable Point, One west to Nuuk and mine to Reykjavik. I got a bit of a surprise after I had said bye to Thomas and everyone: I was walking over to the plane when one of the ground crew from Kulusuk — I don’t know his name, but he had a penchant for mirrored aviator sun glasses and dyed blond hair — shook my hand with both of his, a big grin on his face. It was unexpected and really nice.
The flight to Iceland was easy, only an hour and ten minutes. Getting to the hotel in Iceland was a bit more difficult. I took a wrong turn and ended up carrying my bags (all 20.2kg of them), the wrong way around the airport to the hotel I was staying at. My shoulders still ache!
From the beautiful, serene, minimalist airport at Keflavik to the sprawling overheated, noisy pit of madness that is JFK. At least customs and immigration were nice to me this time (the first time in a long while). But the constant pop music, the lack of any signs of where I needed to go, the lack of trains, the threat level warning announcements, the advertisements, the cell phones!!
Flying into the sleepy town of Columbus was much much much nicer, and boy is it good to be home!
All the best
As a postscript, as I flew between Iceland and the US, Thomas valiantly upgraded all the two sites in the south that needed more batteries. What a hero!