Our visa was valid for only twenty-one days and we had four countries to visit. So 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 the best option if we had 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 stops. Being on a tight schedule was exhausting but at least we were able to see a glimpse 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 did not 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 our every step. 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.
Don’t eat me, horse! I said when it tried to bite my hand.
A lady behind me had a concerned look on her face. Oh don’t worry, horses don’t eat humans. I guess she thought I’d never seen horses before.
Our next stop was Gullfoss, a waterfall in the southwest of Iceland. Its size and strength made us humans look puny.
I thought about how we got there. How just months—years—ago we had dreamed of visiting this island; Its natural beauty, the stories we’ve read, the musicians we love, its isolation from the rest of the world…how can you not love it?
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. It might be the angle of my photo, but I can’t seem to visualize the trolls on the rock formations.
I also learned that during summer, puffins nest on the rock cliffs. She shared a story of how these perpetually-sad-looking birds are loyal to one partner their entire lives. You wonder what the evolutionary purpose of being monogamous is to 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. It was hilarious, but thankfully nobody got hurt.
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 situated in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t get a chance to learn about the exhibits in the museum because of time constraints but knew that it meant we had to go back.