Posted by: jeanne | September 14, 2018

iceland, niceland

tuesday. i’m on an icelandair flight to rekyavik; going to olafsfjordur for a week to participate in the second annual troll festival. it’s been a long time getting here, and it was kind of an ordeal, but now i’m actually on the plane and in the air over probably pennsylvania, i’m relieved and looking forward to the next step.

but right now maybe i will take a nap until they come around with the (optional at extra cost) meal tray.

okay, i’ve had my nap. other than a stiff neck i feel much better. we’re flying over greenland at the moment; normally one of my favorite parts of the trip. but this time, so close to the equinox, it’s been dark for hours. usually when i fly over greenland, it’s summer time, and i can see everything. but tonight, there’s not even a moon, and there are no northern lights. so oh well.

this time, i’m flying icelandair instead of wow. the price was almost the same when i booked, and icelandair leaves from dulles, whereas wow leaves from baltimore. dulles is a 20 minute drive from mikie’s house (we are in the flight path for departures), and bwi takes 2 hours to get to by car, and a deal more than that travelling by train, subway, and car. so i was glad to fly with icelandair for once. and since my last trip flying with them, they’ve dropped meal service, and now you have to pay for your bags, so it’s no wonder it’s almost as cheap as wow.

it was a rather normal 13 hour drive up to dc from atlanta. i’m so used to it now. i’ve been doing the same drive every couple of months for over a year now. i’m so very used to it that i’ve begun to forget the road. sometimes i don’t know where i am, sometimes it doesn’t feel like the right road. i remembered to bring a notebook with me, and my usb with music on it, and i filled 3 pages with observations and thoughts, and things to look up. and i finally started to record the mile markers next to scenic spots i’d really like to have a camera for. so one of these days, i can pull over and snap photos. or maybe if i ever have a passenger, i can get them to take photos.

i drove during the day this time. not because i had to, either, because i poured another big chunk of cash into the car to make it roadworthy. i drove during the day this time precisely because i’ve been driving at night lately, and i wanted to see the landscape. southwestern virginia is so pretty. but because i’ve done this drive so many times lately, i didn’t bother calculating the best time to start. i had my alarm set for 5, to avoid rush hour traffic in atlanta, but there’s really no rush hour traffic in any of the cities on the road. if i’d gone up i-85, i would have hit major cities all thru south and north carolina, but going thru the mountains avoids most traffic and most cities. as it was, i had trouble sleeping, so it was 4:30 when i snuck out of the house and got in the car.

i’d packed more casually than usual, also. this still meant popping out of bed at frequent intervals to stuff something into my backpack, but really it meant throwng almost random things into the bags. the only thing i forgot was a lopapeysa, the enormously heavy sweaters worn in iceland. so now i don’t have a sweater, and my clothes are more like fall clothes than the winter things typically needed in iceland. but it was rainy and chilly in dc today, so i was happy to put on my travel clothes and stick my lightweight driving clothes back in the car.

wednesday. i made it all the way to olafsfjordur, had a nap, met up with a few people and talked about what’s going on with the town, went swimming, lost my credit card on the road and found it again, and am now sitting in ida’s living room writing.

the flight to iceland was 5+ hours, and it was dark, and i slept much of the way. i was just so exhausted from driving the day before. and to tell the truth, i’ve been exhausted pretty much ever since coming back from pennsic. maybe i picked up lyme disease. probably not. but anyway, i didn’t have the enthusiasm to stare out the window until we were on the approach to reykjavik at dawn. there might have been stars, but the cabin lights were on. and if there were northern lights, i missed them. but the first view of land, black against the shining sea, and seeing the ancient lava cracking and rolling beneath me, and hearing the impressions of the tourists seeing it for the first time – all of that was very welcome to me. being able to say thanks and goodbye in icelandic was also nice. and it was good to be able to explain to the tourists that we were going thru lava, not permafrost, that there’s no permafrost in iceland because it’s not that cold, and that conical mountain in the distance was in fact, a dangerous but inactive volcano (dangerous because according to siggi, it’s capable of covering reykjavik in lava).

the flybus dropped me at the bus station, which is right across the road from the domestic airport, and the guy at the bsi counter told me to walk down to that bridge, down that way, and cross over, and i’d be there. but when i got outside, i headed for a taxi, because i didn’t want to bust the wheels of my carryon trudging down the street. and it’s a good thing that i did, because the terminal was far far far from that bridge, and it was a good 5 minutes before the driver dropped me off. and we talked the whole way. just like the driver of the taxi to dulles from my brother’s house – we talked so deeply that i never told him which airline until we were right upon it.

waiting for the plane to land, and when it did, everybody piled into the gate area. i was in the bathroom at the time, and it wasn’t a matter of missing the flight, just some bewilderment when i came out into the lounge and found it empty. but i got on – a bombardier propeller plane holding maybe 30 passengers. and i was seated at the window, as ever, exactly next to the propeller. i gave some thought to what it would do to me if it shattered in flight, like that poor woman where the engine blew up and sliced her window open and sucked her out. i only gave some thought, because there’d be nothing i could do about it and would probably rather die before i knew it than be conscious all the way to the ground. anyway. smooth flight, up to 30,000 feet for maybe 10 minutes, and we started our descent. we passed one hole in the clouds, and i could see the highlands, all rippling lava and barrenness, with braided rivers and a melting glacier. the ice was translucent, so i could tell it wasn’t much of a glacier. it looked like a very large snowfield melting away.

and then we were down, and out, and waiting for our luggage, and then alla was there in a borrowed car, and we were very happy to see each other. we talked all the way back. but first, we had to stop at the red cross, where alla is a volunteer, so even tho the store wasn’t open, she dragged me inside and i looked thru the boxes in the back until i found a suitable lopapeysa. and then she took me to a phone store so i could get a sim card for my phone. there was some sort of crazy woman there, speaking english with a flawless american accent, but acting peremptory and impatient. everybody was careful to avoid her eyes. i asked the person who was helping me, and she said they know her, and she’s icelandic, but never speaks icelandic to anybody, and that she was mentally disturbed. okay. but someday i could aspire to being mentally disturbed and speaking a foreign language like a native in some other country.

and then it was the hour long drive around the coast to olafsfjordur. the trees are turning fall colors, and the vegetation on the mountains is all fading greens, rich golden browns, and reds. but late into the drive, i got really sleepy and had to put my head back while alla drove. but i woke up right before we got to the tunnel, and so i got to see the first sight of the lovely valley and the tiny town jumbled at the bottom of it.

we dropped my gear off at ida’s and then alla dropped me at kaffi klara. gummi was there to greet me. he gives the best bear hugs. we talked about the town, and i had some coffee, and then stumbled back to ida’s for a nap. and then i went walking thru the town. first to the house where i’m going to put up another troll mural. i got a photo of the owner of the house, and will photoshop his face onto the drawing of the troll. that’s where i lost my card, walking thru the grass to get a look at the wall. after that i stopped by listhus and had a nice talk with anno, and artist from germany who will be here all winter running the residency. he loves the long darkness and the cold and snow and northern lights. and then i went to the pool, where they’ve built a new sauna! i wanted to use my year’s pass that i bought last year, but alas, it’s based on the calendar year and not 365 days of usage. i had tried to suspend it when i left at the end of the summer, but it didn’ take, so i had o buy a 10 swim pass, and that’s when i discovered i no longer had my card. so they let me in for nothing and told me to pay tomorrow. yay. a bunch of people were doing exercises in the pool, and i knew some of them – asgeir and his wife, and omar – but didn’t want to join them because i just needed to swim a little and then rest in the hotpots. i stayed well over an hour, and then came home to start looking for my credit card.

but now it’s found, i’ve unpacked and separated out all the gifts, and tomorrow morning i’ll start chalking the wall, and continue talking to the people here. the town is having some serious issues, and i want to be useful in solving them.

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