Thursday, 8 July 2010

The Defining Moment...



... when I knew I wasn't at home any more.

... when I knew things were different here.

... when I grabbed hold of my husband and muttered something incoherent about this being real.

Polar bear

In a perfectly normal Ilulissat back yard, right next to the washing line... a complete polar bear skin is stretched out to dry.

Of everything I saw in Greenland, in the few days before and the subsequent weeks after this moment, this image has stuck in my head the most clearly. It's the first photo I hunted out when we got home. In many ways, this is the image that defines my experiences: modern houses intertwined with ancient (and alien) traditions. Whatever else I show you over the next couple of weeks, remember this. Greenland may be changing quickly at the moment, but it has by no means lost touch with its Inuit roots.

23 comments:

Jumbleberry Orchard said...

These moments make travel and adventure what it is, don't they? Even when negative (or especially?), these are the core of 'experience' that makes the world so intruiging!

I love the way you've written this post - it grabbed me from the first instance!

Stephanie V said...

Yes! That polar bear skin really grabs your attention. Greenland sounds like a fascinating place to visit. Looking forward to seeing more.

M @ Betty Crapper said...

That's really neat. I'm so glad you took a picture and shared.

Sam said...

What a great pic and powerful insight, Rachel. Thanks!

The Good Cook said...

I am always amazed how ancient culture and ritual can coexist with modernity. Wonderful post and picture!

LindyLouMac said...

Those moments are just what makes travelling so special, learning about different cultures.

Tractor Mom said...

It makes you think about your safety when you see that polar bear skin....

Debbie said...

That is incredible! Yes, I would think that skin would give me an otherworldly feeling too.

ScoMan said...

I've never seen a polar bear skin like that before. It gave me goosebumps just looking at the picture.

Thanks for sharing!

Elizabeth Braun said...

I understand what you mean. I had a moment like that when I'd been here about 6 months. We'd had a bad night as locals had been setting fire crackers off hourly through the night to celebrate their chief god's birthday or something. I think what hit me most about the ancient and modern mix was passing the doorway to a big,modern office building on the way to my Chinese class and seeing a big table outside with all the requisites for making offerings to said god etc and young, smartly dressed office workers coming out to take their share! I wish I'd had my camera as I can still clearly see this moment too.=)

Home in just over 2 months now...

Writing Without Periods! said...

Incredible. I had the same feeling when I was in Russia. As a baby of the cold war, I couldn't believe I was there.
Mary

bellsknits.com said...

i think i would have had much the same response!

Sarah (Chez Lee) said...

OH MY! How surreal! Love the way you start this post - you really had me intrigued. I really hope it is the skin of a bear that had died of natural causes.

Expats Again said...

Very cool...

yogurt said...

It's fascinating and haunting at the same time. Thanks for sharing Greenland with us.

Juliana said...

This is such a wonderful blog post...thank you for posting this so we could all feel a little glimpse of what it is like there.

Fly Girl said...

Wow. That image would be seared into my memory too. I love the contrasts of traditional and contemporary.

Deirdre said...

Very interesting.

erin - heart in ireland said...

What an amazing photo, it is so contrasting! i would love to go to greenland!

liliannattel said...

That's a powerful image. I'd like to see that photo larger.

Louiz said...

Wow! So, what did it feel like (did you get a chance to touch it?)

Kazzy said...

Cool, but sad. I agree the new and the old together are pretty intriguing.

christine said...

Ancient and modern, old and new - a haunting blend, something to literally stop you in your tracks!

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