Category Archives: Industry

Hiding in Plain Sight

While getting boots and gloves and hat ready to go over the lip of the hill last December 24 and visit Sheep’s Falls, one of my favourite waterfalls, many tourists stopped as well: the first stop, it seems, two or three hard hours of driving from Reykjavik. Time and again, they took a few pictures over the Berserkerjahraun to the rising sun, and then posed for each others’ cameras and drove on. It was intimate and sweet.

Still, they had Kirkjufoss to get to before the rising sun was no longer behind the mountain, and they didn’t need me telling them it would be worth it to walk for ten minutes down through the drifts, because they might not have come to Iceland to see the pale, pale winter sun and to learn its nature. They had places to be getting along to, with better cameras and the hope for brighter light, and promises had been made to them, and promises, we know, should be kept.

Just imagine how many times a day any and every traveller in Iceland, myself included, encounters people who know where they are and what is worth seeing and say nothing, because that’s the way of the land itself. As Paul Theroux pointed out half a century ago while travelling by train through South America, it’s North Americans (myself included) who point to stuff.

Oil Slick? Not in Iceland!

In Canada, this would be an oil slick, caused by a passing freighter illegally flushing out its tanks at sea.

Njardvik

Not so nice!

But in Iceland, it’s more like an Earth slick.

Njardvikura

It’s the confluence of a river that is taking an 1100-year-old farm away and the desire for a new road to prevent rural depopulation in Borgarfjördur Eystri.

The concept of “nature” is a balancing act here.

The Complex Social Ecosystem of East Iceland

An American gift. Pretty.

Neskaupstadir

Everywhere!

Perhaps the Windiest Holiday Houses in the World: Eskifjördur

Out with them!

Baula

Your holiday stay (and those pics you took of the pretty lupines)…

https://www.flickr.com/photos/eltz_2019/27844425172/

…pays for this volunteer time on days off. A complex social ecosystem, eh.

The Irony of Laugavegur

Laugavegur, in Reykjavik, has always been the people’s street. It started as a public work project, a cobbled road to make the work of washerwomen more efficient. They could take their laundry down to the hot pools by the Old Harbour in a cart rather than in baskets while stomping through mud, rendering the act of washing moot. This project increased general Icelandic productivity many times over, and, what’s more, was done primarily for women. During the economic crisis, the storefronts abandoned when Iceland moved into its suburban mall were snatched up with people selling whatever they could, to make whatever money they could. It was a kind of flea market to attract tourists. Well that worked, even if now they’re full of chain souvenir shops and none any different than the rest. Even the kitchen shop has moved to the mall now, yet even though Icelanders no longer cruise the street in their Old Timer cars, and young Icelandic women don’t pass down the street so much in their party clothes, and old Icelandic men don’t hang around their drinking holes (those are for tourists now) construction continued, even last summer. In a country desperate for housing for the poor or even lower middle class, more hotels was the solution private money found.

June 2019

Now it’s Covid Times. Tourists aren’t rushing in. The old idea does seem best again. Not so much cobbles, maybe, for women to lug their laundry along, but a roof over their heads, so they don’t have to commute long distances in the dark and somehow care for their kids. I’m guessing, only the government can pull it off, but in a country in which men …

…spend the summer driving in circles on a tractor to make hay, while watched by their horses, so they can feed it to their horses in the winter while they watch them…

… and make an economy out of that solid relationship, a little help to the women seems wholly within their power and capacity. What do you think, guys?

They’re asking for our vote.  And, like, more than a bus shelter.

Puffin Guardians at Raudanes

The puffins at Rauðanes…

…are well-guarded. Note the troll, whose hair they live in, and his peek-a-boo stone seal.

Plus, a whole guard team on shore. Here’s one at work.

All this help allows puffins to build a pretty lovely set of penthouses in peace.

Just respect the management’s rules, that’s all, and yield at trail intersections!

Three Rules of Promenading in Reykjavik

Always look in the back alley. In Iceland, its the contrast between glitz and reality that sells the place.

It makes humans feel right at home. At the same time, always check out the windows.

 

They aren’t for seeing into, as alleys are, but for giving you eyes in the back of your head, and multiple perspectives at once. And while you’re at it in Reykjavik, always pay attention to advertising posters. They are the user’s manual for the art installation.

Note how the sign is a smart phone screen, the guy on the right has the idea, as do the tourists behind the woman in red. Well done, everyone!

 

My Favourite Farm

Man, the thought of having a wall of basalt and a cinder cone in my backyard, I tell you, nothing could be better.
.

If you don’t drive too quickly and get off Highway 1, you’ll find it. It’s a poor, poor farm, but, as Gunnar said, poverty is wealth, because everything the land gives comes straight from faith, as a gift, and gifts are not to be laughed away.