The things everybody presumes everyone else knows around here…. or not!
“PLEASE DON’T DO THAT!” my friend asked me nicely (but firmly).
Sometime during the Summer, I mentioned that it would be a fabulous idea to go for a swim at Cirkussoen, which is the drinking water lake in Qinngorput. Apparently, you’re not supposed to. Maybe common sense tells you that. All I could imagine was how refreshingly crisp it might be to drench myself in the cool water. The next time I went there I saw there was a sign that read “Please don’t pollute the water” (which I guess also included no swimming!). Evidently others had also missed the sign, since a few people of all ages were happily splashing away in the water.
That made me start thinking about the things everybody presumed everyone else knew around here.
1. Don’t go swimming in Cirkussoen!
For the reasons above. =)
2. Like you’re supposed to know that you don’t have a choice.
I made the rookie mistake of asking which phone company I should go with. And which internet company gave the best options for broadband. The answer was Tele…. and Tele. Yep, for people who hate to make decisions, life is easy in Greenland!
3. There’s only one flight per day from Copenhagen to Nuuk.
When J was offered his job, they agreed upon starting on Valentines Day, which meant that they also booked his flight to Greenland for that day. Many weeks went by and there was no information provided about flight details – no confirmation number, or email about times. Very confused, he finally asked his boss two days before he flew. We found out then that if you fly from Copenhagen to Nuuk, there is only one indirect flight per day. There is no need to ask what time the flight will take off! This makes sense if you’ve done this trip before – but of course, how are you supposed to know this if you’re new?
4. You can’t buy alcohol after 1pm on Saturday, or at all on Sunday.
That is a newbie mistake everyone makes. Just remember, if you want to buy it for the weekend, buy it in on Saturday morning. Otherwise, there are places you can buy it illegally. Ask a taxi driver, they know it all.
5. You’re supposed to know where everything is… without an address.
People who have been here awhile tend to forget that some people don’t know anything. If you ask where something is, most people won’t know the street the place is located. Instead they will describe the location, and then say it’s next to so-and-so landmark. For example, it’s by the red row of houses behind the green house.
6. Maik’s corner!
This is a landmark that everyone uses to give directions to elsewhere closeby. Maik by the way is a hairdresser slash apartment rental dude slash the founder of Greenland Ice (cream). And his hairdressing parlour is located ….shouldn’t you already know?
7. If you’re unhappy with someone, you’re not supposed to express your actual ideas in public!
Unless you’re a politician, but that’s a different story. To some extent there is a high level of self-censorship in Greenland. This is because Greenlanders are afraid that they will insult you when they insult your cousin, or uncle, or brother that they didn’t know you were related to. Oops. In private circles among people they trust, they can of course talk honestly.
8. The bus ticket expires after 1.5 hours.
It doesn’t actually say that on the ticket, but it does on an information sheet. It’s a useful tip to know if you only have to be in the city for a short stint!
9. In the only swimming pool in Nuuk, kids rule.
If you thought that you wanted to go swimming for exercise, think again. The swimming pool is open to the general public between 6am – 8am, 2pm – 4pm and 6pm – 8pm (I think. You should probably check that. The rest of the times are reserved for things like swim school and swim club). If you’re capable enough to remember these at-first-seemingly random times you’ll have to contend with the kids who play everywhere. There are no designated lap lanes. This pool is the only one available in the city and it was designed at a time when Greenlanders didn’t really know how to swim.
10. You think this weather is bad? Wait, there’s more…
For the newbies from more gentle countries, you’ll be horror struck by the incredibly vicious weather cycle Greenland can offer. Hurricane-level storms brew and when that happens it means all public transport stops. When it gets worse, normal life halts and everyone is content to bake and drink coffee in their homes. However, when you mention the aforementioned storm to a Greenlander, don’t expect them to be impressed. They’ll tell you “This is nothing! In East Greenland, they have pitarak!” (an incredibly crazy wind that can blow full containers away).
Is there anything else you would like to add? =) Another one a friend said was that you can only watch a movie within a two week timeframe! And that most of the cafes are order at the counter, not table service! Please share your thoughts =)
- Entering the hugging zone: Returning to Greenland’s small society (thefourthcontinent.com)
- Getting started in Nuuk (bookofnuuk.wordpress.com)