It is 11:11 p.m. as I am writing this and the sky is still light. Any darkness will come in an hour and only last a few hours before it is daylight again. Nighttime means nothing during the summertime in Iceland. On the way here we passed a guy shooting basketball hoops at 10:30 at night - with no lights.
My reference to bedtime is gone. There is no darkness to tell my body to settle in for the night. It is just daylight, a short dusk/dawn and daylight again.
They call Iceland, the "Land of Fire and Ice" and today we had a quick lesson in the reason for that. Over 150 earthquakes have hit the Reykjanes peninsula this afternoon. They are called "swarms of earthquakes". Earthquakes can lead to volcanic eruptions. The Fire.
Then we drove with our friends to see some of the magnificent waterfalls of Iceland and on the way, were shown the mountains and the glaciers. The Ice.
The dichotomy of fire and ice is not lost on us. Iceland is a dichotomy in many ways. This is a land that has done everything it can to preserves its unique qualities: the language, the method of naming babies, the solid, strong and good people that are the inhabitants. It is a small island separated from the rest of the world which has helped it remain untouched in many ways. It is a small island with a huge heart that has now been found.
We see the tour buses packed with people. We see them stopping and unloading passengers. We counted 20+ buses in a small parking lot at one of the sites. We experienced what seems like large crowds (for Iceland) waiting in line to see the waterfalls, the crater, the geysers. By the standards of most other countries, these lines are small, but they didn't exist here a few years ago.
A double edged sword. A dichotomy. The tourist money is good for the economy. Iceland has become the new "in" place to travel. We have been surrounded by other Americans during our short stay here. Everyone vowing to return to this magical land! This new found taste for traveling to Iceland can rob it of its soul if the country and its people aren't wise.
We are only passing through this beautiful land and as much as we love it, we do not want to leave our footprints here. It is still too pure and too innocent. We will leave a piece of our hearts, though and we will carry a part of Iceland's spiritual heart home with us.
We have met an incredible family that has become part of the fabric of our lives forever. Three generations of great people. Inga, Kris, Gyda, Bergur & Margrét - we leave you with a heavy sigh and hope that we will see one another often and soon - whether Florida or Iceland. Thank you for showing us your Iceland (Þakka þér fyrir að sýna okkur Ísland þitt)!
We hope all the tourists go home and forget about Iceland. Let it be the Brigadoon in their lives and they can only return every 100 years. Let it be kept pure and simple and pristine.
Stay away everyone - you won't like it here! We will come back and send you postcards!