Iceland beyond Thorsmorck...

Trip Start Aug 30, 2007
Trip End Sep 30, 2007

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Friday, September 14, 2007

I've been reflecting on my SEEDS experience...that's the group we volunteered with at's stated goals are to promote intercultural community and contribution, particularly aimed at some environmental need..  Oscar, who started it only a couple of years ago, has done a great job of integrating the program into the culture of Iceland...he's set up work camps that bring people together from all over the world, at the same time providing them the opportunity to be of some service... benefits go gar beyond the program served and most emphatically to the individual participant...when do you have the opportuniity to live/work in such an international collection of people?  and it was sort of like the old encounter group type of Thorsmorck there was really nowhere to go to escape..for two weeks you were always with the group or at least kept coming back to the same people...and with no TV, no phone, no internet....just human that for me, was a rich introduction to Iceland as well as a welcome to the rest of the world... the best way I can imagine to start this year of movement....
We take off to circle Iceland this evening after a rather trying appears that Lisa's passport is misplaced....dealing with that is stressful...American embassy and all....can't imagine why we really need an American embassy in Iceland...but I guess one needs a place to go when the passport disappears...anyway, a plan is in place....we've moved beyond the passport dilemma for the moment...
Late start - we get to Vik after nightfall....believe it or not the hostel here is more expensive than in Reykjavik!!!   Now this is a town of maybe 350 people if we're lucky...right on the gas station...a couple of hotels and a few houses and of course,  a church....that's we're staying at a B and B  cause we might as well ...
The ride here was amazing...went right past KATLA the EXPLOSIVE!!...again, the landscape floods the vision...there's this steep drop to the valley below which is dotted with sheep, horses, and maybe a few swans and cows.....but mostly sheep....they're being rounded up for the winter....they're let loose to run all over the countryside for the summer - completely free range - no fences.  That's a controversial issue here since, with them gnawing away at the ground, it's difficult to establish any tree or shrub cover.  Some conservationists think fences might be nice....
After the summer the sheep are brought back to the farmstead for the winter...they're checked for pregnancy and generally killed for stew if they're not....after their wool is cut off that is....right now they're quite hairy and looking like white specks all over the mountains and valleys....actually they look to me a little maggot-like as their size is dwarfed by the immensity of this huge landscape...they're quite frisky creatures too, running all over the place...especially when you honk your horn to get them off the road...
Saturday morning is a shift from sunny and beautiful...wake up to blowing sleet...whipping into this sturdy old stone house that is the B and B we stayed much sleet that the window view is closing up with thick Iceland is looking like Iceland...they call this the land of fire and ice....dramatic ends of the spectrum...and this place is nothing if not dramatic.   So we're going nowhere for the moment...the strength of the wind would likely blow our little Toyota Yaris off the road even if we could see through the sleet....we're told it's unsafe to drive through the sand - which appears to be an enormous area of glacial outwash at the foot of Katla, largely comprised of well worn sands and other fine particles.  The woman who owns the b and b is quite hospitable and encourages us to stay and relax till it gets sunny - this evening is the prediction?   Hard to imagine but I'm going to have faith...why not ?    Right now, watching the sleet blow sideways I hear the plunk, plunk, plunk of "I Walk the Line"...none other than Johnny Cash....Guess who that makes me think of....waiting it out with Grams in the snnowstorm....and some tea...

Eventually, when it becomes evident we need to spend another night, we seek out a restaurant and it's run by this talkative fellow who fills us in on the history of the wealth of Iceland....and the manifest destiny of it's people...there is no doubt that Icelanders are a proud bunch...whether they're describing their energy independence or their world-savvy fashions in downtown Reykjavik.  The restaurant owner, true to this theme, informs us that in ancient lore it stated that the world would be dominated by the people of a little island in the northern seas...and then proceeds to provide evidence to support this how Icelanders are on the verge of owning large portions of the rest of the world...things I had no idea about...traveling expands perspective....and that stretch is the gift...
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