i found this drawing of a dream i had about 6 months back. in pencil it says “dreamscape. Nordic- with alison on a ship taking pictures of a beautiful landscape.” then it says, “missed the view because I was too busy taking pictures.” it’s a drawing of huge, snow topped cliffs and “bluer than blue” water.
1) originally, alison found the trip to iceland
2) the trip included a boat tour
3) the emphasis of the dream was that i was missing the view (ie., not being present) because i was distracted by taking pictures. well, i’d lost my camera while i was in iceland.. therefore, i was forced to enjoy the scenery. “beautiful landscape” couldn’t have meant anywhere else!
4) alison said that the cliff in the drawing looks like a penis. well, reykjavik has a penis museum because of all the phallic symbols around (in nature).
yeah, looks like i manifested Iceland and didn’t even know it.
Það þykir mildi að enginn slasaðist þegar rúta full af erlendum ferðamönnum valt við Öxarár á Þingvöllum í gær.
I don’t think that a place has made me contemplate existence as much as I had in Iceland. A combination of extraordinary scenery and a scary accident made me experience this trip (and life) in a different way.
We arrived very well and our first day was spent admiring Reykjavik. The very first thing I noticed was the full moon. It was dark as night at 7am. Then 8. Then half past, the light of the sun started to shine. It was mind boggling that it was so dark so late in the morning. It was miserably cold and our phalanges froze but we saw the statue of the ship and the ocean. It was lovely. It snowed. We went back to the hotel (Center Hotel Skjaldbreid, cozy) and after a much needed nap, we had Thai for dinner and went to the thermal pools, where Icelanders chill hard. I can see why. The outdoor jacuzzis and sauna were perfect at about 100 degrees.
Day 2 started out with an delicious hotel breakfast. We’d booked a Golden Circle tour and went to Thingvellir, where the tectonic plates meet and is the site of the oldest parliament. It was a beautiful cliff, like something out of the Lord of the Rings. We got on the bus for the next stop and just as we left, a great wind blew us over. We tipped right into the snow. Everyone who didn’t have on their seatbelt (including my brother) fell to the other side. By some miracle, no one was seriously injured, but a woman hurt her hip and another young woman hit her head. The lady in front of me had fallen through the window and her head was outside. I dreaded seeing her lie there, still for what seemed like forever, but she started to move and said that she was okay. We evacuated through the top of the bus, which was now on its side and ambulances came straightaway to get us. They took us to a visitor center not too far away and our soups and coffees were on the house. Everyone was in good spirits. Of course, it was because everyone was alive and well.
I replayed it over and over at how surreal and terrifying it was. I remember holding my breath and bracing myself for the impact but nothing in the seconds after, like if I had held onto the handle which I surely must have. I looked around to ask if everyone was okay. My brother had fallen perfectly (he’s a professional at falling) and had to be helped up so that everyone could begin to move. I looked up to see people dangling above, held in only by their seatbelt. I remember that the tour guide had asked everyone to put on their seatbelts seconds before, literally, and hearing all the clicks.
The bus driver, the snow, the perfect spot to fall. Every single detail helped save us.
Reykjavik Excursions was extremely professional and on their game, called the ambulances, got us another bus promptly, gave us refunds and a free tour for the next day and even food while we waited to get picked up. They made sure everyone was okay physically as well as psychologically. Had I realized how much it shook me up, I might’ve seen a trauma specialist. It wasn’t until that night when I didn’t sleep well and had dreams about the accident did I understand the brevity of it. I finally cried the next morning when my brother came to check up on me. It was that film reel, that what if over and over again. What if I hadn’t been the last person to get back onto the bus? He reminded me that everyone made it out alright and that nothing good would come out of thinking about everything that could’ve happened. I tried not to after that.
We went to dinner at 3 Frakkar and dropped mad kronas on Hákarl (shark), smoked puffin, cured Minke whale, grilled lamb and horse with mushrooms and bearnaise, and hashed fish with black bread. The shark came in a small cup of about 20 pieces, which was about 19 pieces too many. It was horrid. It was as if someone had squirted Windex into my mouth. The flavor (can I even call it that?) blew up in my entire head. The puffin was salty and not bad until the end, was gamey and too pungent for my taste. The cured whale was actually not bad. It was a bit salty, but very smooth comparatively like sashimi. The lamb was delicious, tender and moist. Icelanders only eat lamb from their country, so it is the best in the world and by far the best I’d ever had. The horse was also very tender and delicious and the hashed fish was perfect. It was essentially shredded and baked in a creamy, cheesy sauce. And black bread! Mmm.
Of course I feel very conflicted about having eaten these animals, but it was for the experience. And really to gain a better understanding of the culture through their traditional cuisine since they lived in such harsh conditions. Imagine only having what you could catch in the sea to eat and having to preserve it somehow. The shark was so putrid because they had to salt it, bury it in the ground for 9 months and hang it to dry for another 3- this was so that they could have something to eat in the dead of winter. La vie! I admire their tenacity. But now I can’t look at a photo or stuffed animal of a puffin without feeling sad.
We searched for the elusive auroras but it was not the night to see them. Conditions have to be perfect on earth and the sun has to do its thing as well.
Day 3 started out beautifully with seeing the sunrise in the south on the South Coast tour. We stopped at a magnificent lookout and faced the ocean. The moon was behind us, floating in a pinkish sky. We walked on Mýrdalsjökull glacier and it was glorious. I’d never seen that hue of blue ever, anywhere. It was mixed in with lava rock. I’d heard that it used to begin at the road, but over the last 12 years has melted away to its present place and that it would be gone in 2-3 hundred centuries. Broke my heart.
We went to Víc afterward and ran around on the black sand beach. The low sun against the cliffs and ocean was so magnificent, it was unbelievable. Our new friend, Aled (who sat next to my bro during the accident) and I took a sip of the freezing water that was streaming into the water. There was a trace of lava, but tasted great. We all walked on the rock wall and took pictures of the dream-like scene.
The Skógar Folk Museum in Skógasafn was wonderful, full of treasures collected by the curator since he was a teenager. At 92, his collection held over 13,000 items of Iceland’s south coast past. It was awe-full to hear the conditions Icelanders had to endure in order to survive and made me appreciate how special their culture was. My favorite fact was learning that all of their things were made out of driftwood since there were no trees in Iceland then. Their little Hobbit-like houses were adorable and the sunset from there was spectacular.
After, we went to Skógafoss and braced the slippery ice to get close. It was the first icy waterfall I’d ever seen, so powerful at 60m high. I loved the sound it made. It was the sound of gravity. When night came, we saw another waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, lit up by lights- if it hadn’t been frozen all over and dark we could’ve walked behind it (summer!). Before we left, Aled filled his water bottle in the river and it was the most delicious water we’d ever swallowed.
We had dinner at Prikid, a chill, rustic bar/restaurant on the main strip. Brother and Christina had burgers (beef was yum) and I had fish and chips, which was the BEST. Perfect fish/batter ratio, crispy and not soaked in oil. I went to get an Icelandic beer at the Big Lebowski Bar and was pleasantly surprised by how great the cover band playing there was.
The last morning in Reykjavik, I went to a bakery to write and send out postcards. I don’t remember the name of the place but I had a pretty good pistachio pastry. I stopped by a shop and got a beautiful card for myself as well. After we checked-out, we went to the Blue Lagoon. It was magical! The water was milky and blue and although there were a lot of people, it wasn’t too bad. The man-made waterfall was the best, which gave me a much needed massage after the accident. We had gotten algae and silica masks which smelled nice. The time there was too short, as we had to leave for the airport after.
There is so much to say about Iceland. I feel that it changed my life (again) and for sure my perspective about how humans fight in order to live and prosper. It was the magnificent landscape and glorious sky. And the accident. It was a place where the day and night sky met. It was Iceland! Although I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to see the auroras, it was a wonderful trip and it gives me an excuse to go to Alaska to search for them. And there’s no doubt that I’ll go back some summer where the sky will be light, all day and all night.
Gracias madre tierra for creating such a stunning place, for keeping us safe, and for la vida hermosa.