One of the things I love about visiting and working in a new place is that you are forced to take use of the place straight away. Today I have walked through all of Ilulissat at least twice, following directions from locals as well as a map. I have been to the post office, the library, Radio & TV store, the school, tourist information, police station, stationary store, the criminal court, the supermarket and the detention center. All for good reasons.
I don’t know what Pisiffik means in Inuit; most likely something practical and appropriate. In Danish it means ‘the-shit-you-got’ which I am sure has not passed anyone’s great sense of humor. Despite its unfortunate name, Pisiffik is where it all happens. It is where the restless teenagers hang out, where the massive pick-up trucks drive by, next to the soccer field, across from the cool music store and so on. Directions are given according to Pisiffik: “go past Pisiffik and then to the left” or “follow the road to Pisiffik and then turn right.” I have even ventured into: “If I’m at Pisiffik, where do I go from here” with great success.
And I have needed this fix point because following directions in a foggy Inuit village is not easy. Everything disappears and the colours of the things you can see are very dimmed. Directions such as: “we are in the blue house on top of the hill” become useless when you cannot see the hill. The same goes for “they are in the long red building facing the ocean” and you find three long red buildings in the right spot, but no ocean.
From where I stand, not being able to find my way is not a problem, it is a conversation starter. I have to say though, once I knew where Pisiffik was, conversation flowed so much easier. Faces were painted with relief at the common denominator.
Tomorrow is another busy day. Many people have volunteered to talk to the Danish/Australian woman who knows that one should not call the things that live in the ocean “fish” but “sea animals”. More than one acknowledging nod has been prodded my way for using this broader term. If ever you need bonus points in Greenland, this is the cheapest one around.
The sun partly came out today for approximately 10 seconds. I leave you with a few less foggy photos…