Returning to Qubel’s blog…
This summer has been really unique. Carlos and Pablo departed to the Arctic in an adventure flight with a single engine Maule airplane. The departure took place at Robledillo airdrome in Guadalajara on June the 20th. Of course the winery, friends and clients were following their findings and evidences of the World Climate Change, already present in remote latitudes along the Arctic Circle. All of us were very anxious to have the daily report about the flights, knowing that weather is critical for an airplane like the Maule which it doesn’t fly high enough to avoid the incidence of meteorology. In so many occasions we were restless, when the communication with them wasn’t available.
In Madrid we took care of publishing their almost daily posts, see the Blog 20minutos.es (blogs.20minutos.es/artik) in Spanish language and (www.winetoursmadrid.com) in English language. Every post was related to news, comments and findings about the trip. This information came quite regularly depending if they had Internet access on those remote sites. To keep the blog alive requires a lot of dedication and time, gathering the messages from these guys in the Arctic and placing the information in the right format and pictures in the blog that is why I got a bit behind with the Bodega’s Blog.
Until the end of July I had to devote myself to the flyers on their search for evidences of the World Climate Change, after all, the airplane had been christened with the name of Qubél.
On July 13th, I had a minor accident in the cellar and broke two small bones from my right foot; this made me wear a cast for a month. Also the accident held me back from my usual line of duties and caused an earlier return of Carlos, who was still in Canada finishing interviews and helping our Son Raul with the legal formalities to import the airplane into Canada.
In another sort of matters, surprisingly this summer we have experienced a continued activity in the winery, we have been receiving more visitors this summer than any previous years. The sales went up and export enquiries awoke from its summer slipping state. Some of the Enoteca Qubél visitor’s groups came from Germany, Russia, Japan, USA, and others nationalities, and of course many visitors from the nearby big city of Madrid.
By the end of August, we participated in the promotional campaign named Food from Madrid held at Mercado de San Miguel. Along three days, we occupy a cart in the Central Market and we were offering in this unique area, our wines to tourists, locals and visitors. It was an interesting experience for us, we liked to contact directly with the public, and also enjoyed the lively breathe o and affable atmosphere among customers, merchants and the market staff. That was a good initiative from the Comunidad de Madrid.
Y en este mes de septiembre nos disponemos a participar en la , de la Comunidad de Madrid, que tendrá lugar el próximo fin de semana en la sita en la Casa de Campo.
And a late event placed us participating in a new fair at the end of September. This was the First Spanish Artisan’s Cheese Fair (I Feria del Queso Artesano de España) , held in Madrid and organized by the Community of Madrid.
The event took place at the Madrid Chamber of Agriculture (Cámara Agraria de Madrid) located in the Casa de Campo.We were there with our wines doing a perfect pairing of wine and cheese. Sorry if you missed it.
I ought to mention that early this month, I escaped from work for two weeks with my friend Isabel Palomino, we went to her apartment at the beach side in Isla Canela. (I swear this was a doctor’s recommendation…) Isabel has a wonderful shop near the marine shopping center called Canela en Rama (Cinnamon Sticks), it is a natural product’s shop, it is organic, and there you can find all sort of candles, soaps, teas, chocolates, cosmetics, health supplements, artisan jewelry, fair trade … a real delight to your senses…
We had a marvelous time, not paying attention to the watch, which means having anarchic life. We walked the huge beach only meters away from the apartment, expend time playing with the tides, get absorbed by watching the sunset against the marsh. I personally appreciated the friendship with Isabel and with her friends Manolo and family; they are the owners of fantastic dining Restaurante A3, which is facing the marsh. In Manolo’s restaurant you can find the best sea fish offer. You can be sure the fish is prepared in the best cooking manner. Some of my favorite’s choices are the seasoned mackerel, the choco stews with beans and peas, rice dishes with lobster, red shrimps and an endless list of different offerings. Their advertisement is based in the fact that the best stew is made by knowing how to choose the best product.
Now Qubel’s winery is ready to face the fall, just hovering with the cool and moist air that we have been missing along this year…
On Saturday 30th we took off from Reykjavik under maximum weight. It was a sunny morning and the weather forecast along the route and at destination was good.
We had planned to fly at 5,000 feet to stay below ice level.
It was a smooth flight, in a laminar atmosphere with a mild tail wind which let us see the coast of Greenland on 28 West, and a sea of ice and icebergs.
At 40 NM from Kulusuk‘s airport we contacted the tower, which informed us that there was no traffic in the area.
We started a soft descent down to 800 feet so the engine back cylinders didn’t cool down, and to enjoy the majestic frozen nature during the last miles of an approach not to forget, amid a diaphanous air and bright sunshine intensified by the snow and turquoise blue colors.
We reached runway 29 with a soft west wind. The runway is of grayish gravel; it blends into the rugged landscape and is only identifiable by the simple demarcation lights that are on 24 hours a day, since it is the only operative landing field within a radius of 500 km (if we hadn’t managed to land we had enough fuel to return to Reykjavik).
It was built by the Americans during the Cold War as part of the “Dew line” network, aimed at preventing a hypothetical Russian invasion. It is now run by the government of Greenland.
We are in Greenland, one degree from the Arctic Circle. We feel that the real journey has just started.
We have stayed at the Hilton 5-star Hotel, ironically called so because of its spartan facilities which are part of the airport and are meant to accommodate seasonal staff. We share the big hut with two employees from the tourist information service at the airport. We are happy here, and Jacob, the tower manager, has invited us to watch the Spain-Italy match tomorrow (at the time of writing this post we have already seen the awesome match). Bradt, the airport’s German electrical maintenance technician, has invited us to visit the place where the Americans had their aerials. From up there, you can see some spectacular views of the ice ocean and the rugged mountains.
There, we have toasted with Qubél to the beauty of these landscapes.
…We also met Ari Trausti, Iceland presidential candidate in today’s elections. It was pre-election day of silence so it was a great privilege that he devoted 45 minutes of his time to us.
At the end of the interview he confessed that he was very interested in the topic because he had been on the verge of doing something similar, a plane trip through the Arctic region, heavily sponsored, to gather relevant information on climate change, but that everything had come to nothing because the Russians had said niet, and the entire Siberian Arctic strip is essential for the analysis.
He is a versatile science-oriented statesman very involved in spreading scientific issues, especially as regards climate change. He basically told us about the real threat of climate change, the rising of the sea level at a pace of 3 mm per year, the deforestation as an unbalancing element in CO2 cycle, the responsibility of human beings – already exponential – in the process, apart from the periods of the Earth – currently interglacial.
…he spoke about research initiatives on alternative energy sources that would allow us to keep our lifestyle in a cleaner way, about awareness-raising campaigns … And he gave us five key ways of changing our habits to individually diminish the said effects, because it’s us, some more than others, who are directly responsible for a great part of the problem:
1. Recycling. 2. Using public transportation. 3. Buying local products to avoid the emissions produced by transportation from remote places. 4. Growing our own food in our garden or in small pots or greenhouses (there are many models). 5. Reducing consumption.
The future of the planet is in our hands, each one of us in our area of influence and activity. We can’t go on like this, we have to step outside of our comfort area and act differently.
On the 28th at night, we went out for dinner with Àsi (Àsgrimur Sverrisson). He is a huge Icelander around 50 years old with a smiling and easy-going character. We met it through Néstor Calvo, from La magdalena de Proust, a wonderful ecological food shop in Madrid near Las Salesas.
Àsi is a film and TV program director. His good-natured character and his position have earned him many relationships, so he offered to arrange an interview with one of the candidates to the country’s presidency, in the elections that are taking place on Saturday.
The Spanish consulate, even though the consul was absent, also did some moves and arranged an interview with a senior official from the Ministry of Environment. On the 29th we started our day with these appointments confirmed.
The first appointment was with Stefan Einarsson, PhD. He is the director of the Climate Change and Long-Range Pollution Division. He devoted 30 minutes of his time to talk to us, and we carefully recorded the conversation in spite of the low voice with which this gentleman speaks.
His comments referred mainly to the Government’s line of action and to the manifest existing signs of climate change.
Iceland is a country very dependant on its natural resources and they are aware of it. In an evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions per inhabitant, they ranked exceedingly high and this worries them.
They have metal industry, aluminum treatment, a great fishing fleet, a large number of cars and a very powerful transportation system. Given the small population, over 300 thousand inhabitants, the per capita rate is high.
Another source of gas emission is related to the deep drillings carried out to get high-temperature water (Iceland Deep Drilling Project). But along with the extraction of these waters that save so much energy there is an emission of methane that contributes to the greenhouse effect.
Such is the situation in the country, but the Government is so worried that it is doing all it takes to mitigate each one of the problems that arise.
Cars pay taxes according to their level of emission – those that don’t emit gases are exempt from the tax –, research is being done so that the fishing fleet uses an alternative form of energy, they are recycling methane as a source of energy for the automobile industry.
Icelanders have developed high-level technology for the exploitation of natural resources; this know-how is being exported to other countries which, together with their fishing and aluminum-related activities, is pulling them out of the crisis.
We were left with the impression of a people increasingly mindful of its dependence on the environment, a Government that knows where to go and a developed technology that is proving successful.
We are convinced that this country is keeping on its toes, that it’s walking in the right direction and will solve its problems.
We are sure that it will be a model to follow.
…on Wednesday we flew over Iceland and passed over the biggest glacier in Europe. We intended to approach the volcano that was active in 2010 in the southern part of the island, but the forecast failed and when we reached the area we were met with development clouds that generated some ice, so we couldn’t see it.
However, we enjoyed good visibility at certain points that let us admire the power of these magically multicolored harsh volcanic landscapes where the water thawed from the glacier runs happily in countless waterfalls, lakes, brooks and creeks.
We plan to stay in Reykjavik until Saturday to do the first interviews on climate change.