Monday, July 18, 2011

Food, Drink, and Pranks (Camp update, 6/27/2011)

Two months have passed since we’ve arrived in Greenland and in another two months, I’ll be home. It’s been a few weeks since the sun has set and no one has seen darkness since we've been here. The constant light seems to affect everyone to varying degrees. Most of us sleep around five or six hours a night for a few days and then crash for twelve hours once a week. Going to bed here is like trying to sleep with all the lights on and I find it hard to feel tired when the sun is up. Midnight snacking on Raman noodles (well, the Danish alternative: Yum Yums) has become part of the camp routine, as everyone is usually still up and starving.
Taking a nap in the middle of the day--though we often work
at midnight. Our body clocks are really messed up.

On the solstice we had planned taking a midnight hike up to the ice sheet margin. Ironically, dense clouds and rain made the solstice an unusually dark night and so instead of a party we all went to bed early feeling exhausted.

Food is the most popular topic of conversation. After dinner there’s usually about an hour of reminiscing about the cheeses, fruits, vegetables, and fresh meats we miss. It is seemingly impossible to not talk about food; we’ve tried banning the subject, but after a few minutes of silence we give up and start at it again. Our meals are predictable. Porridge (oatmeal) for breakfast; bread and canned fish for lunch; and then instant mash potatoes, pasta, or rice with a can of corn and a can of bland meat for dinner. I put so much Tabasco sauce on everything that it’s become what I’ll probably associate with Greenland for the rest of my life. Dessert is hot chocolate, a chocolate bar, and sometimes a tin of peaches.
A typical, well-balanced meal of Noddecreme (chocolate spread),
hazelnut chocolate, and Yum Yum noodles.

The long awaited chocolate crate arrived in camp last week. It was packed to the brim with sweets, dried fruit and what the Brits call pudding and biscuits (I’ve tried to explain to them that biscuits are what you smother with gravy for breakfast and pudding is what Bill Cosby used to sell but no one listens). Anyways, the chocolate crate has been a big morale booster but is diminishing rapidly.

We drink unfiltered water directly from the lake next to our camp. There are MANY interesting little bugs that swim around in our water bottles like some sort of small portable aquarium. Little worms and fish-like larva are the biggest things but there are also little red beetles and water skimmers. The water tastes delicious, though, and combined with fresh bread from our bread maker are my two favorite things to eat and drink in camp.

Merciless teasing and prank plotting is the next most common topic of conversation. “You’re getting as big as an iceberg,” is a frequently used insult, with Catie’s Indian name officially now changed from Sleeps-Like-A-Tortoise to just Iceberg! The team is like a bunch of siblings and some days it seems like we laugh all day.

Musk ox or rock?
Catie and I spotted a herd of musk ox near camp one afternoon and crept to within a hundred yards of them before we were spotted and they ran away. After the musk ox ran off, we heard a deep growl coming from behind us. We turned and looked at each other in horror: “What was that!?” Spinning round, we saw Dave Chandler laughing behind a rock: he’d been stalking us while we stalked the musk ox.
Proof that a sleeping musk ox looks like a hairy rock.
Harold the musk ox wakes up, annoyed that we are
invading his personal space.

I now have to carefully check my towel for rhodamine powder before taking a wash. We use the powder to measure river discharge and even a small amount can temporarily turn the river bright pink. The pale gold powder, as it turns out, is really hard to see on a white towel and stains skin bright pink for days if you get any on you. At the moment, dying Stu’s light blonde hair pink has only been spoken about, but as we go slowly insane as the weeks progress we may stop being able to resist the temptation.

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