I hope the following blog doesn’t bore you with its length - but this has been a hell of a couple weeks!
I was born a “Navy Baby” in Oxnard, California. Oxnard is the largest city in popular Ventura County. A county of approximately 813,000 people. I later lived all over Long Island, New York. An island of approximately 7,700,000 people. I also spent a lot of my childhood in and out of New York City; a city of approximately 8,300,000 people. I spent most of my years in Charlotte, North Carolina. A bustling banking city of approximately 716,000 people. So coming to Iceland, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the thought of an entire country consisting of approximately 300,000 people. I’ve been in small towns, but never small countries. I have watched sporting events alongside more than 300,000 people! Regardless of its size, this is one of the most geographically stunning countries in the world!
I left America for my 2.5 month globetrotting adventure with no expectations. Whenever I found myself fantasizing about how wonderful, magical, exciting, and scary this summer would be, I quickly snapped out of it - pushed all thoughts to the side, and committed to just going along for the ride and being open to any and all experiences. Sometimes, when I need a laugh; I check out my horoscope on MSN. On July 15th it told me, “The future is always in motion, so don’t stress if you can’t quite make out your goal right now. Simply deal with events as they come along, and try not to control or predict the future too stringently. After all, life has many wonderful surprises to offer, but the trick is to be in a receptive state so you can appreciate those surprises. For now, put the past behind you and focus on the present. Aries, the future will be here before you know it.”
I didn’t leave America for some self encountering pursuit. I didn’t leave with the intention of coming back to the States with the answers to the rest of my life. I don’t expect to know where I will want to live mid-September. I have no idea where I will be employed this fall. I am clueless about how many voice-mails are stacking up on top of each other on my Blackberry. But I am so happy to admit that quite honestly, I don’t care. Iceland has taught me a lot about taking in the beauty of my surroundings. I grew up living in cities. I appreciate the accesability of an urban life. The normality in my life is hopping onto smuggy trains into Manhattan every weekend, cruising along busy pot-holed interstates, going through my daily grind with text messages and ipods tweeting into my ears; all the while not paying attention to all the beautiful things around. For the past 2 years the only mountain in my neighborhood that I admired was, East Rock. In Iceland I am surrounded by countless mountains thousands of feet high.
I don’t want to sound corny or too cliche. I am not proclaiming to have cut myself off from my real world the past three weeks. I haven’t unrealistically vowed to meditate every day, I am barely exercising everyday! I have absolutely no intention of abandoning Facebook for the rest of my journey, I can’t wait to replenish myself with USWeekly Hollywood gossip, at times I miss the hypnotizing red light blinking on the Blackberry, and I am excited (and dreading) returning in 5 weeks to the task of listening and deleting those voice-mails. But however pure I am still not, I have promised myself to just stand still sometimes.
While here, I hiked a ridiculously massive beautiful mountain named, Esjan. This mountain, the trail, and the peak is absolutely stunning. I have never “mountain hiked” or rock climbed before. I work out almost every day. I am a healthy 23 year old woman. So I thought, when in Iceland, do as the tourists (and natives) do - hike mountains! I successfully convinced my Icelandic friend Petur to join me. We started up the mountain, I bitched and huffed and puffed between our very frequent breaks, but once I got to the top - I felt like freaking Superwoman! The hike took us over 5 hours up and down. Most people do it in 3 hours. I reluctantly drank delicious ice cold water from the mountain streams, climbed rocks, slipped on loose dirt, dodged “mountain dogs”, devoured our snacks, and enjoyed a zen-ful nap at the peak under the sun and literally in the clouds. It was amazing. The way down, which I claimed would be a piece of cake, was just as difficult as the way up. Ladies, do not wear slick bottomed Pumas while hiking, no matter how cute you want to look! I had so much fun on the hike, I did it again 2 days later, sore glutes and all!
The boys and I went on a road trip to their grandparents summer house in Stykkisholmer. An extremely small fishing village of about 1,200 people on the western coast of Iceland. If I thought I stood out in Reykjavik, then I am like that purple elephant in the middle of the room in this town! It is immensely charming. We took a boat tour through the thousands of islands, puffin and eagle watched, and then sipped white wine while eating raw scallops brought up from the bottom of the ocean only seconds earlier! Can’t get fresher seafood than that! I can see this town being the location of a coffee commercial! It has that kind of charm where you want to wake up to the sounds of fishing boats docking, under mist-topped mountains (and dormant volcanoes), and have a cup of coffee on your pretty wooden deck.
Now - for the extreme stuff. Snowmobiling on the second largest glacier in Iceland, Langjokull. I knew it would be bright as hell and really white, but not until you have driven your snowmobile out deep into the glacier, hop off and turn around in a 360 can you see how intense a glacier is! Glad I had my sunglasses! It couldn’t have been a more beautiful, blue sky kind of day! Bjarni, Telma, and I followed most of the instructions given by the hot glacier guide, and none of us fell into a glacial rift. I really didn’t want to be that tourist on the news in Iceland that they had to rescue hundreds of feet down inside a glacial crack! (Yes, it happens every year) However; out of the 12 or so of us, neatly in our line, I asked Bjarni to switch snowmobiles with me so I could be closer to the front (and so I didn’t get left behind). I hop on, drive 15 feet and the “reliable” snowmobile dies! Damn karma. I didn’t touch any of the off-limit buttons - I promise! The older glacier guide smacked his lips at me and told me to hop in the driver’s seat of his and he will ride behind me. How polite. Of course out of all the snowmobiles out in our group, it was mine that broke down, and the tour guide that came to my rescue was the overweight older man who’s job was to ride in the very back as to make sure the rest of the tourists didn’t get hurt. So I am going so slow, puffing along, with him hanging on to the back while telling me not to go too fast. Great. Shortly later, Bjarni saw my disappointment and switched mobiles with me so I could gun it fast through the ice and catch up with all the cool people in the front of the line! ;-) Thanks B!
When our ride ended, and my face unfroze from the smile stuck to it, we dusted ourselves off and hopped in Bjarni’s jeep to continue our road trip. Good typical roadtrip music, Beatles, Eagles, Oasis, Coldplay, and Spice Girls. Bjarni’s Ipod. ;-)
We stopped at an area called Þingvellir which I will let wikipedia explain, HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Þingvellir#Geography
Coolest part was standing between to tectonic plates that mark the North American plate and the European plate. Metephor can be inserted here. As I am hopping between the rift, Bjarni yells to me, “Passa! (translation: careful!) Don’t fall of the edge of the continent!” bahahaha!
The Blue Lagoon was another highlight of the week. It is so beautiful. The water is an odd color of blue and white and is luke warm. When you put your hand under water you can't see anything, so needless to say, I stubbed my toe a million times on rocks and other people's feet! Iceland is so wonderfully small that I ran into two Swiss guys I met in a hot tub earlier in the week in Stykkisholmer. Telma, the Swiss guys, and I enjoyed cold beer in the warm lagoon caves and ended the day with an AWESOME seafood meal on the water. Between the 4 of us, there were 3 nationalities and 7 languages spoken. While in the lagoon you heard the buzzing conversations of languages from all around the world! The tourists were everywhere! Very cool guessing game of which language which people speak. We drove them to their '4 star hostel' and I'm pretty sure people where confused seeing the Porsche in the parking lot.
While here I have been faced with the task of editing my resume. When I return to the States mid-September I need to have a source of income lined up fast! I am 23 years old, a little behind on my schedule for college graduation, but in this economy I find myself thankful I am a student and not paranoid about layoffs. I need to begin the dreaded chore of sending my very ameteur resume to businesses, government bureaus, and organizations that will undoubtedly look at it and throw it to the side as they skip over perfectly qualified intelligent job seekers (like myself) as they’re looking for a Harvard or Yale letter head. I’ve chosen very unconventional methods my whole life. My resume is proof of that. I went to a small private high school rather than a popular football team type high school. I financed myself through community college when I was 17, while my peers were driving off to fancy state universities. I attained my Associates degree from an online University out of Phoenix, Arizona. I am pursuing my bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from that same online university. I am proud of the roads I have taken. I have a lot of experiences under my belt that I am certain I wouldn’t have if I had followed the traditional path. Now get ready for this statement, the next unconventional decision I am pondering is volunteering abroad in third world countries.
With my desire to work in foreign policies, federal security, and humanitarian efforts; I need something to prepare me. I can’t keep sending my resume to the Department of State without some substance to it. Teaching english in Central or South America seems to be clearly an excellent choice to make. I can’t think of anything that would be more fulfilling. It’s definitely something that has been on my mind a lot lately. While I have my schedule for the fall wide open, why not! As I research more about this idea, I wonder why it costs so much to volunteer. Regardless of the price tag, I am going to keep learning about the needs of third world countries out there. I’ll make it happen - I always do.
I leave for ITALIA tomorrow! I am so excited and also very nervous! While in Iceland, although the culture is very different from the States, it seems as though I am still in Connecticut. I am with the family that I have been living with for a year and a half. I have the same sense of security while in Iceland as I do while in the U.S.. Italy is going to be a wonderful challenge for me, the language, the culture, the men. ;-)
Thanks for keeping up with me through Iceland - talk to you when I get to Italia!