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Port of Call: Nuuk, Greenland
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Port of Call: Nuuk, Greenland
Nuuk, capital of Greenland, is frosty but friendly, and infinitely more peaceful than our own nation’s capital.

By Drake Nanda

It’s understandable if you feel confused and adrift. Current events have altered the order of our world and split asunder the link between rational thought and action. Making sense has nothing to do with doing what is right…or what used to seem right. Consider our plight: An action hero movie star has just been elected Governor of California. The President is acting like an action hero movie star, and the world is bracing for the future implications of his precedent of preemptive attack on a country that posed an immediate threat to the United States, even though most of its airspace had been controlled by the U.S. for over a decade, and from which it had received regular deliveries of high explosive ordinance. National deficit? Never you mind.

For our own therapeutic purposes, it would serve us well to go back to a solid beginning and reconstruct our world from there. Consider Nuuk, the capital of Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat in Greenlandic or East Inuit, and Grønland in Danish) where you can get grounded in some of the oldest bedrock on earth. Recent discoveries have dated rocks in the area to 3.8 billion (with a B) years old, slightly older than those found between the ears of George W. Bush. In addition, Danish geologists have also discovered some of the earliest known life forms, primitive algae, in the same area dating back to about the same time. These algae appear to be slightly more primitive than the fungi currently running the Department of Defense.

Present-day Nuuk is still a simple and manageable place, with just over 13,000 inhabitants. It is the big city in a country of only 56,000 people. Country is a term used loosely here, as it is currently a self-governing overseas administrative division of the Kingdom of Denmark. Although small in population, its land mass is, well, massive. It is the largest non-continental island in the world weighing in at 2,166,086 square kilometers, over three times the size of Texas. And like Texas, many folks will never see most of it as 80 percent of the surface is permanently covered by ice. In some places, the ice sheet has been measured at more than 14,000 feet thick, slightly thicker than Donald Rumsfeld’s skull.

Nuuk was settled in 1721by Norwegian missionary Hans Egede, who had come to the island on the pretext of converting the Catholic Norse inhabitants into Lutherans. Only trouble was that all of the Norse men and women had abandoned Greenland about 400 years before. Well then, we might as well set up a trading post and make some money.

The people we traditionally think of as Eskimos, actually showed up in the greater Nuuk area around 1480, long after the first Europeans had given up.They were extremely efficient at surviving the harsh climate by hunting marine mammals, thanks to their mastery of the kayak, the ultimate personal ferryboat.

When you think about it, boats will be our only salvation from these turbulent times. So if you can’t take a cruiser to Nuuk, get into a kayak and paddle away from the chaos, if only for a little while. And just when you’ve lost all hope, it may give you succor to know that one of our faceless bureaucratic institutions, the Port of San Francisco, keeps one pinkie toe anchored in the past with its ownership of a small whale boat, the Imua!, which is rowed by an eight-person crew of club members. Perhaps they will tow us all to more peaceful shores, one stroke at a time.

Nuuk, Greenland, you can get there from the San Francisco Bay in just 24 days traveling at 10 knots, only 5,981 miles away.

Port of Call takes a humorous historical look at ferry important places around the globe each month, exclusively in Bay Crossings. Tell us what you think at