… in a police car today.
No surprise there, of course, as many of my friends will suggest. In fact I should have been a policeman given the number of times that I have had to help them with their enquiries.
Having adjusted the clocks by two hours over the last couple of days, it will come as no surprise to anyone to learn that I was wide-awake at 04:15 this morning. I did manage to go off back to sleep at one point, only to be rudely awakened by the alarm at 06:00.
With the medication and breakfast, this was followed by a lesson in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit people. It’s not easy because isolation and geographical displacement has caused there to be several distinct dialects and of course we have Inuit on board who come from four different regions. But we did our best.
Canadian Immigration people came on board to check our passports. I was shocked, if not horrified, to learn that two immigration officers had been flown out here from Ottawa on a specially-chartered plane simply to check our passports and then fly back. The cost – no less than $50,000 – is charged to the company transporting us and, eventually of course, to us.
Why they couldn’t have come on a scheduled flight, or why the Immigration Service couldn’t simply have chartered a Canadian Air Force plane, totally escapes me. It sounds something like a “make-work” scheme to me, arranged to screw some money out of a captive audience.
Having done that, we could board the zodiacs to take us to the shore. And to our surprise, there was a guy sitting on a beach chair at the landing point checking us off as we stepped ashore.
We’re finally in Canada after all of our exertions, at the settlement of Qikiqtarjuaq, spelt “Kekertukdjuak” on my Admiralty chart of March 1908 and known to generations of Arctic explorers as Broughton island, here just offshore from Baffin Island.
Strawberry Moose and I went for a long walk around the place to see what we could see, eschewing the touristy attractions. There’s a viewpoint up in the hills overlooking the straits so we went there to see the view and present His Nibs with a few photo opportunities.
On the way back I encountered a father teaching his son, aged about four, how to use a sling properly in order to bring down a flying bird when they go out hunting in the future. Naturally, I stayed around to watch and to learn and also to have a good chat. Modern materials certainly, but I was very impressed with the fact that ancient tribal knowledge is being passed on. Father told me too about the effects of climate change on his village and how the snowfall has dramatically reduced and temperatures dramatically increased.
Walking around the edge of the harbour I fell in with Dennis, our expedition photographer. We were having a good chat when a copper pulled up.
“Are you photographers?” he asked.
When we answered in the affirmative he invited us into his vehicle. He was off to check something out in the hills at the back of town where the views are spectacular, and he would take us along for the ride.
It goes without saying that we accepted with alacrity. And I was so distracted that I forgot about the church that I was trying to photograph when the copper pulled up.
Back at the beach we had to present ourselves again to the guy in the beach chair. And I couldn’t help thinking about Brian Hanrahan and the famous “I cannot tell you how many there were, but I counted them all out and I counted them all back”.
Back on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour after lunch I had a shower and a clothes-wash, and then we had a talk on kayak-building and then on the history of survival in the High Arctic.
After tea one of the Inuit guys played guitar and sang for an hour or so, and then I came back to my cabin. I’m having an early night. And I need it too. I’ve been at the photos again and I’m now up to almost 1200.
But I did find a really good photo of the young girl about whom I talked yesterday, which I had taken of her while she was standing perched on a rock, so I gave it to her as a little gift to cheer her up.
I told her that I admired how she had climbed up onto that rock.
“That was easy” she laughed. “Coming down was something else though”
I admired her spirit and sense of humour.
A lie-in tomorrow as we aren’t going far. There’s a storm blowing up down the road and we are going to loiter until it’s passed us by.