Posted by: jeanne | August 1, 2014

from olafsfjordur to akureyri, part of the last days in iceland

it took all night to prepare to leave the residency. first i had to clean the place. the other residents cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom, and i took the floors, but ended up cleaning the supply room as well as sweeping and mopping, so it took a lot of time. but i have to leave the place at least as clean as i found it, and two of the others had already left, so it was up to me. and i don’t mind; i like cleaning, when it’s not my own house (and i don’t have an excuse to do it).

i had to pack, as well, and this involves a scale, as i am so close to being overweight that it’s not funny.  i took the precaution of mailing my pigments and encaustic supplies to my sister in portugal, which was 2.6 kilos, because i have 22 kilos allowance in my bag.  it was around 1 in the morning that i remembered to call home, which is rather late, but it was just me and one other resident in the house at this point, and she was in the other part of the house, with two doors closed between us.

the way i pack is methodical.  i open the suitcase on a table, and then gather all my things around it, and organize it all into small parcels inside something, either a container (i brought a small vegetable steamer as well as a loaf pan and a pair of hiking boots) or a ziplock (quart, gallon, and giant size).  this time, i discovered that i could put all my studio odds and ends inside the steamer, all the presents for people inside the steamer basket, the honey inside the loaf pan, and all my socks inside the boots.  all the clothes went into the giant ziplock, and all the leftovers – my medicine and toiletries, my large brushes – into separate bags.  the boots went into the spare bag i had brought to put shopping in, and the watercolor paper, clayboard and notebooks went into a plastic shopping bag.  except for my writing notebook and the salmon skins i bought, which went into a briefcase carryone, everything went into the big rolly bag.  i had already reserved the clothes and sleeping bag and things i’ll need to go around the country into my backpack, which was still in the room.  when i weighed the rolly bag, it was 21 kilos, which i couldn’t believe.  i don’t trust those scales, so i might be able to put the paper and boards into the briefcase, which will reduce it by probably a kilo, but i was really amazed to get everything into one bag.  so i added the briefcase inside and zipped it up, and the whole thing will go to reykjavik without me, and meet me when i get off the bus next tuesday evening.  i hope.

so then it was 2 in the morning, and time for some sleep.  wait, no, it was 3:30.  i set the clock for 5:30, and when it went off i set it for 6:30, got up and finished the troll, swept, vacuumed and mopped the floor, and then made breakfast, assembled the food i’m taking around the country with me, and made a cup of coffee.  and of course it was time to go just as i poured the last of my cream into it.

siggy and alice were at the door to collect me and drive me the block and a half to the bus stop, which was great, because one of the wheels of my bag broke in toronto, and siggy came over to fix it just a couple of days ago, having remembered that i mentioned it a month before.  thanks a bunch, siggy.  frank was in the car, going to akureyri on the bus along with me.  he is hitching in the same direction i’m going, but has 9 days to do it, and so his journey will be much different than mine.

the bus came, i had a nice conversation with the same driver i talked to on the way to the residency at the end of june, while waiting for his credit card machine to pick up the wifi, and then sat back and said goodbye to olafsfjordur.

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so this is the last view i will get of this beautiful valley for some time, and i know i will miss it, because i have made several friends, and they will all be continuing the troll project while i’m gone.  so i’ll stlill be connected to them, even tho it will be several years before i can go back.

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and this is the last time i’ll see hrisey and the other side of eyjafjord for awhile, too.  the day was turning out to be beautiful, after 2-3 days of early fall like weather (close to freezing and rainy).

so i got to akureyri around 11 in the morning, ditched my luggage at the hostel, and went wandering.  to the botanic garden to try and identify all the vegetation i’d been seeing all month.  they’ve had a really dry summer, tho, and mainly there were labels and no plants, which was funny.  i was looking for some bamboo that thomas alloca found there, and the younger gardeners had no idea, and checked with the older gardeners, who said there wasn’t any, so i pulled up the article and went looking for someone who did know, and found her – marta – and she showed me where it was, so now i’m happy.  bamboo grows near the arctic circle, can you believe it?

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on the way i found a mess of bee plants in a section probably called the bee part of the garden, tho who knows in icelandic, mine’s not good.  there are about a dozen bees in this photo, but of course it doesn’t snow at this resolution, oh well.

then i went wandering down to the old part of town, and found the oldest standing building, dating from 1795, and used as the offices for a fishing company for many generations. this photo is of the back of the building, and shows the construction, a sort of board and batten thing with wood, both for the roof and the sides.

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then i made my way back to the hostel, paid for my room, put all my things in my room, and schlepped my rolly bag down to the bus station and let them have it, so i don’t have to.  next was lunch.  i finally decided to have a hotdog.  the people here usually get ‘one with everything’ which is a dalai lama joke, but i had one with vegetables and spices.  it also had ‘everything’, which is ketchup, mustard, and remoulade sauce.  these are lamb hotdogs, by the way.  they taste like hotdogs.  everybody raves about them here, and all i can say was that i was hungry, and ate the whole thing.

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then i went swimming.  i’ve been swimming da’ily for a week now, and can only say what a mistake it was not to go swimming from day one.  it’s so counterintuitive to want to go swimming when it’s barely 60 degrees out, but since the water is various temperatures of hot, it’s actually the best thing going.  there’s nothing like sitting in a hot tub while cold rain drops on your face and head.  the pool at akureyri is so much more intensive than either the pool at olafsfjordur or at hofsos, the only two pools i’ve been in at this point.  it has a full size pool that the kids play in, a full size pool that the adults do laps in, a baby pool (which isn’t really.  i mean, the kids use it, but the adults loll around in the shallows, resting their heads on the bottom and letting their bodies float.  you can go right to sleep in any of these small pools, of course, and the hotter the pot, the faster you go to sleep.  they had 2 baby pools, and actually a third one that had a back beating jet of water at the top of it, and a kind of slide down to the shallow end.  then there were three hot pots of various temperatures, as well as a sauna.  i could only stay in the hottest hot pot and the sauna for two or three minutes.  i think i spent an hour and a half going from pot to pool and back again.

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i passed this field and pond that had these plastic fishing lines strung all over them, and i figure it was to keep the ducks, geese and swans from flying away.  i guess it works.  they probably can’t see the lines before they foul them, so after awhile they don’t even try.  these animals are vicious to each other.  i watched several of them running after and pecking at others.  very annoying.  they’d make good soup is all i have to say.

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and then i came back here, sat in the cafe of the hostel and tried to get online, then gave up and went to the highly rated indian curry hut for some fish curry, came back to the hostel and ate while finding that the wifi was much better in the kitchen.  and now i’ve written my day up, and it’s time to go call home and then go to bed.  my next leg starts at 8 in the morning.

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