Category Archives: Land

Changing Iceland

Only nine years ago, Icelandic tourism was a simple thing: you drove around the country viewing the things Icelanders found interesting, and they served you coffee, put you up for the night, and cooked a lamb for you. An old bridge, for instance…

… or a waterfall.

… a troll at Dimmuborgir…

… and some smooching among the birches, the trees that helped to gain them a country.

Now, pain.In the waste water from a power plant. You, dear visitor, are an industry now. Iceland shows your face in a mirror.

Yet in the small towns now, far from Reykjavik, people are tired of us all; they want us to go away. In Grindavik, an old woman even rammed me with her shopping cart in the grocery store. “Fair enough,” I thought. But I remember the generosity and gratitude that began this madness…

… and trust it will continue.

The Love Story of Gulfoss, the Golden Falls

The manly trolls of Gulfoss…

 

… and the worms (um, gold collecting dragons, you know the type) of Gulfoss…

…  the Golden Falls …

… look across to the female trolls across the gorge, which are riding a worm…

.. and if the worm has the head of a ram, well, this is Iceland, after all.

And the flag … this flag:

… flies between them.

So now you know, too.

 

Human Nature at Geysir

Geysirs are fun for humans, but look at them, trekking up hill.


Making new humans is funner.

The question is: who has the right to erode Iceland? The Icelanders, by inviting rock stackers?

Or the rock stackers themselves? Iceland invites visitors to view nature.

Human nature is what the modern world can deliver instead.

Be careful what you wish for. Ethical dilemmas don’t go away by wishing so.

The Wrong Place in Iceland and You

Dyrholáey is a wonderful bird sanctuary, and you can drive up the cliff on something approximating a road and look out over the sea from the lighthouse stoop. Wondrous. But when it’s your first visit to Iceland, and you don’t know any better, you can also stop in the wrong place, with Italians and Germans dodging around you in their rented Yaris’s, and take an image of the lighthouse from the edge of the bird fields (there really is nowhere to stop, and walking on the grass and disturbing the birds is strictly forbidden), and see the Island (that is an island no more) plowing out to sea.

Being in the wrong place is best. You can find the unexpected end of the trail.

Or be plodding cold through the dawn fields, blowing on your fingers, dreaming of coffee, when suddenly it’s 20,000 years ago and you know, you just know, you can read the Earth like a book.

You can take a picture of a shop window that strikes you as incongruous, and years later realize that it’s not. It’s Iceland at heart. This is what comes of 1100 years of Irish women freezing in the cold.

Interchangeable, insulated tattoos. You just never know. That’s the thing. You walk down the street, and there it is: the Tower of Mordor!!!! With the nuclear clock at two minutes to midnight!!!

You can go to Kjarvalstaðir, the Art Gallery, to see Kjarval’s works…

… and realize that everyone else comes for the lunch! You can find a trail on the internet, then try to follow it through the, well, bog, but you get to know the mountain.

You just never know. Do it all wrong, I say, to do it right.

 

People Come to Iceland for the Nature, but…

… I come for the cities.

Welcome to Vik, sprawling metropolis of 291 people on the floor of the sea. For Gunnar, this was a last remnant of Atlantis.

Welcome to the Vik suburbs! Well, urban sprawl, eh, but, still, the Atlantic drop straight off and smells only of iodine and salt, so that’s ok, then.

And the waves of the Sea of Atlantis splash up over the bones of the world.

I like it that it does that. I just wanted you to know that tonight. Whatever ladder you use…

… to climb out of the surf…


… and make land.