I’ve been procrastinating with this story for the longest time. I struggled with this because winter makes me sad, and looking at pictures of cold, dark places makes me sad.
Our visa was valid for only twenty-one days and we had four countries to visit. To save time, we joined several small group tours to get an overview of Iceland. Renting a car and driving around the country would have been ideal but we just didn’t have the time.
We left early in the morning to save daylight. It was already dark at three in the afternoon so we had very little time to check out the sites. Being on a tight schedule was exhausting though we were able to see snippets of the country.
Many wild horses roamed free in the fields. They were short and stout, had thick hair and fat hooves, unlike the horses I’ve seen. They didn’t seem to mind interacting with humans as well.
‘Don’t take long. This is just a quick stopover.’ the guide said. I watched as the rest of the group walked with ease while I helplessly flailed my arms and scuffled my feet on the frozen grass. The ground was very slippery and full of horse shit so we had to watch over where we stepped. One of the horses saw me and headed in my direction. Good horse. Come to me, horse. I reached out to touch its head but it was only interested in my pink gloves.
Reynisfjara is a black pebble beach in the town of Vík. According to folklore, two trolls were dragging a ship to shore when daybreak came and turned them into stone.
I also learned that during summer, puffins nest on the rock cliffs. Apparently, these perpetually-sad-looking birds are loyal to one partner their entire lives. You wonder what the evolutionary purpose of being monogamous is for these birds.
Later on, we took a short hike to see the glaciers. We walked through a vast pebbled valley with a frozen lake in between. The gigantic mountains made the people look like ants.
A sign stood on one of the paths to discourage people from getting too close to the water. There was no way to know if the ice was rigid or fragile so this helped prevent accidents. Our guide told us about how a group of Americans had a picnic on a glacier and had to be rescued after it started floating away. The funny part was that the guide kept several photos from the news articles on her tablet like she was waiting to show it to everyone she met.
At the Skógar Folk Museum, we listened to Icelandic Sagas and stories of what life was like hundreds (or maybe thousands?) of years ago. The museum is found in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t get a chance to learn about the exhibits in the museum because of time constraints but it gave us reason to return.