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July 7, 2014

View from planeGreenland is 5 times the size of Texas but home to only 53,000 people. Most of them live on the west coast. This afternoon we flew into the tiny village of Kulusuk on the east coast. This is East Greenland's international airport and consists of a small airport building and a gravel runway. It was originally built by the US military. We were taken by van to the only hotel. Greenland is governed by Denmark and the Kulusuk Hotel has a lot of young Danes working for it. There are 250 people living in the village and they are mostly Inuit. Denmark set up several trading stations during the 18th century in Western Greenland.Pack ice in bay But East Greenland was isolated and relatively unkown until the 20th century due to the pack ice surrounding it. Thus the inhabitants were not influenced by the European culture and have continued to follow the traditional Eskimo way of life. The main occupation is fishing and hunting. Hunting is for whale, seal, polar bear and birds as there are no other animals in East Greenland.

Fred on hike to villageWe took a 3 km walk from the hotel to the village along the only dirt road in town. There was still quite a bit of snow left! There are only 8 vehicles in the village, all owned by the hotel or airport, so we didn't worry about traffic. Mountains surrounding villageThe scenery is spectacular. We are surrounded by snow covered, jagged mountains and bays filled with floating ice. The houses in the village are perched on rocky mounds and are painted red, blue and yellow. Walking through the village is like stepping back in time. Houses in KulusukIt provides a glimpse of traditional Greenland. The village is very poor. The houses have no running water. There is a public bathouse for showering and fresh water is stored in a commmunal tank. Toilets are like the old fashion camp toilets with bags collecting the "stuff". Fortunately our hotel is more modern with showers, regular toilets and fresh water. We visited the one store in town where one can buy the bare necessities of life. There was some fresh produce because the ship had just come in - it only comes 4 times/year!

Village cemetaryWe walked past a cemetery with all white wooden crosses. There are no trees here so all wood is very precious and comes from driftwood. The flowers on the graves are artificial as there are no cut flowers available. In addition, we learned that there are no names on the graves. When someone dies, the next baby that is born is given that person's name. They believe that if you put the name on the grave, that soul is lost forever. The crosses do have a number on them and the church keeps a record of who is buried where.

Sled dogsWe also passed a mound with sled dogs lying about. These are a different breed of husky than the Alaskan Husky. They are kept chained and there are no shelters for them, even in winter. They are fed raw seal meat a few times/week. We were warned that they are very mean and if bitten, you would have to be flown to the hospital immediately. Husky puppiesWe came across some cute month old puppies that the owners were very proud to show off. The puppies didn't have any teeth yet! The red is blood from their recent meal.

View from radar stationAfter dinner, we took a jeep ride up to the top of one of the mountains. It used to be the site of a US radar station but that was abruptly dismantled in 1992. It provided a 360 degree panoramic view of the surroundings.

To view more photos from our trip to Kulusuk, please go to Kulusuk Photo Gallery. To read about the next location visited, go to Tasiilaq.

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