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Glamping Like A Viking, How To See Greenland's Tundra In Style

The summer season in Greenland is fleeting. As the snow melts into the tundra, modern day Eskimo descendants reconnect with their ancestral habits. There is also the deluxe option for tourists.

Watching Northern Lights in Greenland
Watching Northern Lights in Greenland
Christophe Migeon

KITAA — Atop the garnished table, cinnamon scented candles diffuse a warm, amber light. The ravioli of lobster and Madagascar green pepper are bathed in a perfumed parsley foam, later joined by a fillet of halibut, served on zucchini caviar. All will be topped by a generous serving of ivory-heart cheesecake drizzled with a red fruit coulis. Far from the glitzy ambiance of an exclusive Parisian restaurant, this tantalizing meal takes place in quite literally, it is polar-opposite setting: under the canvas of a tipi near the edge of the vast Greenland tundra.

Comfortably seated on plush sheepskin, the remarkable ease of the gourmet dining experience paints a stark comparison to that of ice-clearing European explorers who, just a century or so ago, were warming themselves by the flame of a stove powered by nothing but seal fat, huddled under a makeshift shelter, chewing the leather of their belts, their bodies ravaged by scurvy.

In the village of Kitaa, two hours by boat north of Nuuk, Jon and Anika Krogh traveled to the seasonal luxury camp. Each summer, between the months of June and September, half a dozen brightly colored tipis are nestled in front of the dramatic fjord — an amphitheater of cliffs carved out by nature's tempestuous ways. For the next few fleeting weeks of summer, the snow will melt away from the normally icy landscape.

Kapisillit village — Photo: Awewewe

With the reindeer skin covered armchairs, the feel of the camp embodies everything Nordic: a barren rock littered the landscape, flanked by iced peaks, and sprinkled by fragments of icebergs that drift on the glassy sea. "There, all is order and loveliness / Luxury, calm and voluptuousness," Baudelaire would have said. Your favorite millennial would call it the tops in "glamping," that is giving some glamour to the rough edges of camping.

Under the mess tent, behind the crowded food counter, the chef Rune Collin tied his apron and set out to reformulate the new Arctic cuisine. From 1997 to 2015, he directed Nipsia, without doubt, the best restaurant in Nuuk — and thus, all of Greenland. He was the first chef to revisit traditional Inuit recipes to suit western palettes. Always in search of innovative cooking techniques, he has cleverly created dishes of reindeer, seal, musk ox. The majority of the vegetables he cooks — potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips — come from local farms, established thousands of years ago by the Vikings.

The adventure fell short.

On a chilly morning in the year 985, 25 Knorrs, big square sailboats left the Icelandic territory with their families and cattle. They had collectively decided to brave the "Dark Ocean" to answer the call of Erik the Red who had boasted of the agricultural potential of the new shores of Greenland. Only 14 ships reached the shore, and established their presence on the southern tip of Greenland which was soon to be named the "colony of the East." As the years passed, a second group of farmers migrated further North, forming the "Western Colony." The current Kitaa camp is located at the heart of what was once the land of more than 90 farms — living solely off of goat and sheep. Not far from the tipis, lichen-eaten walls still portray the ancient essence of this rural Scandinavian country.

Yet, the adventure fell short. Around 1350, the Bishop of Garder sent an emissary to reconnect with the colony of the West, which had not been heard from in several years. They found nothing but horses, goats, and abandoned buildings. The colony of the East survived a full century longer, before mysteriously disappearing too. Since then, researchers have been racking their brains: What could have happened to the Vikings of Greenland? The "Little Ice Age," which struck Europe from the middle of the 13th century to 1850, seems to be the most plausible answer.

In Qupaloraarsuk — Photo: Facebook page

But this freeze caused the displacement of another group natives to Greenland: the Inuit. Ujammiugaq Engell of Nuuk's National Museum, says there was no evidence of confrontation, "No smashed skulls, no real trace of any exchange," he explains. "And a genetic analysis showed that there was no mixing of the two populations."

But for Jon Krogh, who regularly visits the current settings, the past looks different, "At the time, a land with so few resources couldn't have allowed two peoples to prosper. It could only be one and may have been decided by violence. But the Inuit don't necessarily want to brag about it today!"

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Geopolitics

A Dove From Hiroshima: Is Fumio Kishida Tough Enough To Lead Japan?

Japan's new prime minister is facing the twin challenges of COVID-19 and regional tensions, and some wonder whether he can even last as long as his predecessor, who was forced out after barely one year.

Japan's new PM Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Sept. 29

Daisuke Kondo

-Analysis-

TOKYO — When Fumio Kishida, Japan's new prime minister. introduced himself earlier this month, he announced that the three major projects of his premiership will be the control of the ongoing pandemic; a new type of capitalism; and national security.

Kishida also pledged to deal with China "as its neighbor, biggest trade partner and an important nation which Japan should continue to dialogue with."

Nothing too surprising. Still, it was a rapid turn of events that brought him to the top job, taking over for highly unpopular predecessor, Yoshihide Suga, who had suddenly announced his resignation from office.


After a fierce race, Kishida defeated Taro Kono to become the president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and pave the way for the prime minister's job.

Born into politics

A key reason for Kishida's victory is the improving health situation, following Japan's fifth wave of the COVID pandemic that coincided with this summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The best way to describe Kishida is to compare him to a sponge: not the most interesting item in a kitchen, yet it can absorb problems and clean up muck. His slogan ("Leaders exist to make other people shine") reflects well his political philosophy.

He is an excellent actor.

Kishida was born into a political family: His grandfather and father were both parliament members. Between the ages of six to nine, he studied in New York because of his father's work at the time. He attended the most prestigious private secondary school — the Kaisei Academy, of which about half of its graduates go to the University of Tokyo.

However, after failing three times the entrance exam to , Kishida finally settled for Waseda University. Coming from a family where virtually all the men went to UTokyo, this was Kishida's first great failure in life.

An invitation for Obama

After he graduated from college, Kishida worked for five years in a bank before serving as secretary for his father, Fumitake Kishida. In 1992, his father suddenly died at the age of 65. The following year, Kishida inherited his father's legacy to be elected as a member of the House of Representatives for the Hiroshima constituency. Since then, he has been elected successfully nine straight times, and served as Shinzo Abe's foreign minister for four years, beginning in December 2012. A former subordinate of his from that time commented on Kishida:

"If we are to sum him up in one sentence, he is an excellent actor. Whenever he was meeting his peers from other countries, we would remind him what should be emphasized, or when a firm, unyielding 'No' was necessary, and so on ... At the meetings, he would then put on his best show, just like an actor."

According to some insiders, during this period as foreign minister, his toughest stance was on nuclear weapons. This is due to the fact that his family hails from Hiroshima.

In 2016, following his suggestion, the G7 Ise-Shima Summit was held in Hiroshima, which meant that President Barack Obama visited the city — the first visit by a U.S. president to Hiroshima, where 118,661 lives were annihilated by the U.S. atomic bomb.

Photo of Shinzo Abe, Barack Obama and Fumio Kishida with their backs to the camera, in Hiroshima in 2016

Shinzo Abe, Barack Obama and Fumio Kishida in Hiroshima in 2016

commons.wikimedia.org

Japanese cynics

In September, 2020 when Shinzo Abe stepped down as prime minister, Kishida put out his candidacy for the first time for LDP's presidency. He didn't even get close. This was his second great failure.

But reading his biography, Kishida Vision, I must say that besides the two aforementioned hiccups, Kishida's life has been smooth sailing over the past 64 years

When one has had a happy and easy life, one tends to think that human nature is fundamentally good. Yet, the world doesn't work like that. And Japanese tend to believe that "human nature is vice," and have always felt a bit uneasy with the dovish Kishida diplomacy when he was foreign minister.

Leftist traditions from Hiroshima

Hiroshima has always been a city with a leftist political tradition. Kishida's character, coupled with the fact that he belongs to the moderate Kochikai faction within the LDP, inevitably means that he won't be a right-wing prime minister.

How long will a Fumio Kishida government last?

Kishida would never have the courage to be engaged in any military action alongside Japan's ally, the United States, nor will he set off to rewrite the country's constitution.

So after barely a year of Yoshihide Suga in office, how long will a Fumio Kishida government last? If Japan can maintain its relatively stable health situation for some time, it could be a while. But if COVID comes roaring back, and the winter brings a sixth wave of the pandemic as virtually all Japanese experts in infectious diseases have predicted, then Kishida may just end up like Suga. No sponge can clean up that mess.

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