Sunday, July 22, 2007

Santa's Summer Home

We know now why Santa has reindeer, and it isn't just for his annual global airfreight delivery.

Without his reindeer, Santa would have to hike for more than an hour over a rocky outcrop to get to his summer home, near Ummannaq.

Having failed to order up a reindeer taxi, we took the long route. It was a foggy day here in North Greenland ... so foggy that we couldn't take the Polar Circle launches from our ship into the town until past noon. But once the fog lifted, we were rewarded with an elf-tale scene: Massive ice bergs, snow and glacier-capped mountains, red and blue houses set atop stair-step hills above the fishing harbor.

Up the hill, across the rocks, over a mountains, past the water pipes (you can't bury things underground here), beyond the sleeping dogs (not much work for them in summer) and through the wildflowers we hiked, until we came to Santa's summer hut near a small stream.

Santa, we learned, must be a short guy. His ceiling is only about 5 feet high, and his sealskin-covered bed is barely long enough for a dwarf.

We found a tree all decorated for Christmas and a gaily wrapped package ... but no Santa. Said Janus, one of our guides, "I heard he's gone to Honolulu.''

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