Day 15 of my travels with The Clipperton Project around the Faroe Islands.
Today we were in Vágur!
First thing, we headed out to the shipyard for a tour with Gudmundur. To start us off, he had two plates for sampling: one with sliced pilot whale blubber, and the other with dried slices of cod fish. I, obviously did not try any!
This is the closest I’ve been to crossing “touch a whale” off my bucket list… but as it’s a dead hunk of whale, it’s perhaps also the furthest away I’ve been from achieving this goal…
But it was interesting to hear Gudmundur’s opinions on the Grind. I can’t say I can ever condone the brutal slaughtering of any animal, but my abject horror at these events has been minimally diminished.
Gudmundur described himself as “Chairman of the Grind” which basically meant he is one of the many who oversee the events, and ensure everything is happening safely, and humanely. The older generation of men, teach the younger generation of boys (yup, no girls here. It’s a man thing. I think the more recent hunts have been more inclusive, but generally it’s an all boys club. Good, quite frankly. You keep this to yourself little men. If killing majestic creatures, that you have no real reason to kill anymore (yes, I do understand that in the past this killing was a necessity, but it is no longer), makes you feel like you have a bigger dick, then do you think you could just not? Go and have a wank and chill yourself out. That whale doesn’t really need to be sliced up by your idiot ass. Anyway… I was trying to be less judgemental wasn’t I? Yeah… it’s not working. Especially when I know how anti-feminist, anti-inclusive, anti-LGBT, anti-different a lot of the culture is in the Faroes, it makes it harder to be accepting of something like this. Don’t get me wrong, everybody we met was lovely. I had a great time. But there is a lot of internalised stuff going on there, that is fairly unsettling). At least they are now killing the whales humanely. That’s something. Although, I got the impression that was more because they are being watched on a world stage, and not because they actually care about the whale, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. All animal killing is bloody and gory… just most of the time you don’t see it. The only reason people care about this more than other things is because it’s out in the open. I don’t see the same people who are angry about this, protesting at their local battery farm, at their local slaughter house. Of course not, the meat I eat comes in a vacuum-packed bag, so it must have been killed humanely right? Sure. But it was still killed. It still bled. It still suffered to get to you. But you didn’t see it, so it didn’t count. I might sound like a self-righteous vegetarian, but it bothers me that the same people who get upset about one thing, couldn’t care less about another. I’m not saying don’t eat meat. You do what you want where that is concerned. But if you get upset about one animal being killed for food, you have to upset about all the others one too. At least the amount of whales being killed is dropping each year, hopefully soon it will be firmly at zero. One small thing that I actually thought was quite nice about the Grind (I know, who thought I’d ever describe whale killing as nice!!) is the community aspect of it. Everyone gets their share. Those who kill for their community bring the flesh back and divide it equally amongst everyone. From young to old, everyone gets the same amount, even those in care homes get their piece. And the eating of the meat is now only done at special occasions, and it’s a real treat for them to have it. Good for the whales, hopefully less will be killed. And good for the people… the mercury content of these animals is only getting higher… which is a whole other problem!!
Whale killing is bad. Simple as that. In my opinion. But, saying that, I would advise you to gather all the facts before stewing into a ball of rage. And if you do want to support efforts to get this banned from the Faroes, do not support Sea Sheppard. They are fucking idiots, and are not helping their cause even one little bit. Speak up, but do so with knowledge and good words… unlike my rant above!!
Gudmundur showed us around the shipyard. The tools they had were fantastic! It smelled like wood shavings and paint in there… my favourite!
I found it quite sweet and engaging that he described building a boat as building part of himself, an imbuing his soul into it. As an artist, I totally get that! It’s sad that beautiful wooden ships like The Johanna are few in number now, and are not being built like they used to be. The knowledge of how to create like that will die out with the few people who know how.
We then walked along the shore, having a nosey at all the boats around there, and peeking into little boathouses to see the vessels within…
After the shipyard, a few of us headed along to the weaving school. One of the teachers, Karen, was there to meet us, and she told us a little of the history of the weaving in her town. When looms came to the Faroes, Vágur had one loom for the whole village! and women would queue for a chance to use it. The weaving school was opened 10 years ago, and they’ve slowly built up the number of looms, and cultivated a full teaching programme for students of the craft.
(photo pinched from Lea Kannar)
We waited with Karen while she waited for her husband to pick her up, and were treated to a small chain dance with her! It was a really beautiful experience. We all linked hands at the little bus stop, she taught us the steps: two the left, one to the right, and she chanted as we moved as one in our little circle. Perfect.
Tonight, our boat had been nicked by the Mayor to host a party. We weren’t invited, so had to hang around town until midnight (which turned out to be 2am!). We loitered in the local hotel restaurant…
I went for a wee wander with another girl along to the edge of town while the sun was setting.
A beautiful walk to the end the day… oh wait… I can’t go to bed yet because there are people partying in it!!
We eventually got there! and managed to shoo the drunk people away from our bunk!
Night night beer soaked Johanna.
More to come soon…