Viewing entries in
Uncategorized

Comment

Melting Away on Frobisher Bay

(Adapted from a frantic email I sent to my sister to help me process what just happened last night...) I am still recovering from a party out behind an island on the middle of Frobisher Bay...

5km out on Frobisher Bay!

5km out on Frobisher Bay!

There was a yurt set up in the distance. Hoards of people, clad in costumes, even a unicorn and dragon, were awaiting excitedly to be taxied there by skidoo; some even skied, with their dogs galloping through the hidden puddles around us. I walked/interpretive-danced all the way there with a friend, a bottle of tequila in hand, and boom box on the shoulder, blasting Bohemian Rhapsody. We left first, but were the last to arrive, making quite an entrance! "Is this the real life? Caught in a fantasy?"

The yurt was filled with speakers, twinkling lights, DJs, a rapper from Toronto, throat singers...bodies pressing into each other, moving to the arctic beats.  We moved together, grinding hard until the snow-dance-floor just melted away from under our feet.

We rushed outside to light a giant wooden man on fire, stripping off our coats from the intense heat. We each let a heart-shape lantern go into the twilight, creating a trail of glowing pink orbs that hovered gently before disappearing into the star-free sky. Night never came; the midnight sun reemerged, though it hadn't really left, reawakening our dancing spirits.

I hoola-hooped by the fire for a long, long time, watching the flames flicker over the ice; friends and strangers laughing around me, enjoying spectacles like this that only seem possible in the Great White North. I traipsed back to the mainland around 4am, thick snowflakes getting caught in my hair and ears. I didn't care, and just let the skidoos pass me by.

When I'd left my house at 9pm the night before I thought I was going to just another party...But I returned home feeling loose, shaken upside-down. Weightless. Who knew a wild fire on ice surrounded by crazy music could bring so much inner stillness.

So, so surreal... (Sorry, I just had to share that with someone!!!)

I was thinking of you, my family, Ghana, when I let the lantern go. Sometimes I feel oh so lost between the stoic mountains; so heavy on the crystal clear ice.

Sometimes I feel so far away up here. So so far far away.

But it's the unexpected moments like this, a spark that sets the air on fire, that grab hold of me, pushing my heels back down beneath the ground. I am reminded that I can spread my roots, seep up the energy, the stories, from anywhere. By allowing myself to come back to Earth, I realize how we are all on a tiny part of it. I just happened to land here.

IMG_4880
IMG_4880

Our roots are always there with us, invisible and overlapping. So close we are, closer to each other than we can even see, or ever know. But every so often we catch fleeting glimmers of knowing, like watching lanterns being swallowed up by the sky.

Comment

Comment

Iceland Through and Through PART SEVEN

The long road back to Reykjavik

The long road back to Reykjavik

Back to again to whence we came...

Saying Goodbye to Iceland is always a challenge. This time I had I lost My Everything skirt, a physical symbol of my past traveling adventures that I was able to drape over me, protecting me anytime at my most naked, and vulnerable moments of real and imaginary shiveries; now it was time for me to lose my footing on this place too. I always find a real connection here. This time I was with my longtime friends and together we'd experienced water droplets transforming into powerful landmarks, and towns that acknowledge sea monsters and believers in fairies. Even though I had amusedly pointed to an Interesting dot on a map which had kick-started our journey, being here was familiar, like being embraced by a soft, crinkly granny; somehow with every touch, every blink, I felt unspoken wisdom, recognition and safety. Here we felt free and protected by the many unseeing eyes that exist within the cliffs. All this confusion and happisadness still makes my mouth croak a laugh. I had fantasized about this place, yet in all its ancient apethetic-ness, Bildudalur, THE WESTFJORDS!!! and The Most Powerful Waterfall were all very real, very tangible. Somehow my imagination had woven me into the fabric of this land, and my feet on the ground made it real, made it just so. So if I never saw this place or my silly wrap-around skirt again, I imagine everything would be okay...

We spent our final day in the eclectic city centre of Reykjavik.

Main street

Main street

Where bright colours surround you, people are dressed-up like walking thrift stores, and the buildings are crafted like modern art exhibits, this city is designed to inspire. We got our first horizontal sleep in an industrial loft-style hostel and I felt my body melt into the fluffy sheets; how could this not be my home?

Reykjavik sidewalk
Reykjavik sidewalk

Most things in life just don't make any sense, but the questions don't pour out of me until I'm a safe distance away. As soon as I'm on the road I am free to challenge the silliness of my daily routine, and the customs I just take for granted back home in the society that forged me. Maybe that's the reason I just can't settle down; I need to keep challenging the norms and not be afraid to find out that so much of life is random, mysterious, and complex. But if I can piece together the strings of randomness, like Maxine Ferryboat, The Most Powerful Waterfall, the disappearance of My Everything, and that Interesting Place, then no matter what I always have a story, like a string of light bulbs hanging over me.

Finding hanging lights
Finding hanging lights

I can't speak for my two companions, but here is a short list of all the things I have learned from Iceland:

  • Sea monsters and fairies exist
  • Driving standard (well, driving in general) is a good skill to have (so I should probably get my licence!)
  • Tropical tents are not practical here for the frigid nights
  • When sleeping in a car, always park diagonally on a small hill for extra neck and back support
  • Geothermal baths are the greatest gift on Earth
  • Skyr is better than ice cream and greek yogurt combined
  • Don't walk alone on a glacier because of the howling sled dogs!
  • Be prepared to have at least one spiritual epiphany
  • Keep your bathing suits and wrap-around skirts locked up between uses
  • Takk-Skyr (Thank you-Yogurt) is a better swimming pool game than Marco-Polo
  • Being naked is the best, most-stylish outfit so don't be afraid to show yours off
  • There are many towns called Reykholt so make sure your GPS is Icelandic, not named Karen and from Australian
  • People will point and laugh at you, no matter what
  • Doing Tarot readings at the local pubs will cause the Bartenders to take photos of you
  • Always go to the Interesting Places, even if you have no idea where exactly they are located
  • Visit the WESTFJORDS!!!
  • Feel free to transform at any moment; nothing is permanent so just let go!
Painted tree
Painted tree
Final skyr devouring!
Final skyr devouring!

Never have I been to such a friendly, open and peaceful society. We will be thinking of you and all our adventures for centuries to come.

Takk fyrir Iceland!

Icelandic Pride
Icelandic Pride

Comment

Comment

Iceland Through and Through PART SIX

The Mystery of the Vanishing Bikini and Wrap-Around Skirt PART TWO

WANTED:

Cool California Bikini
Cool California Bikini

REWARD: 10 Ghana Cedis, 1 chicken and 3 soft mangoes (Marriages proposals of any kind are not accepted)

RECAP: Madison, Amy and Bibi, the three innocent tourists traveling, sometimes quite uncomfortably, through the Icelandic WESTFJORDS!!! awoke to find themselves thrust into the middle of an international kidnapping crime. So the three tourists turned freelance detectives, not knowing the Icelandic equivalent for 9-1-1, decided to investigate the mystery of their missing itemson their own. After having an Interesting day walking about and getting up-close-and-personal with hundreds of puffins, they were hot on the trail once again. We last left the three tourist-detectives at the ferry docks, waiting for the WC/loo/bathroom, when they came face-to-face with the accused: The Grumpy-Thieving-Adventure-Type-Tourists who were armed with a clever homemade clothes-line that conveniently set-up in the backseat of their SUV, perfect for off-roading in Iceland's rocky terrain! Will the three tourists-detectives help fight Iceland's war on the under 1% tourist theft rate and get their beach wear back? Unless you have an appointment with your Facebook newsfeed, keep reading to find out...

Map of THE WESTFJORDS!!!
Map of THE WESTFJORDS!!!

The Accused Couple was nowhere in sight now. They can run, we cackled, but on a tiny ferry no one can hide! Giddy with crime-chase adrenaline, we dispersed among the sheep to snap a few more final photos of the Beloved WESTFORDS!!! The cool breeze nipped my sides, already whispering goodbye to us.

IMG_3663
IMG_3663

I wiped the tear from my lip and dashed back to meet the others at our 1999 Toyota Avensis, now officially part of our broken-road family. Madison and Amy were ready to heist it on to the ferry, Italian-Job-style. But there was already a complicated queue of cars trying to figure out which of the three lanes they should be in, in order to correctly load onto the ferry without the confusing ferry people gesturing wildly in angry Icelandic sign language. One lane seemed to be for sheep trucks and potato carts, the other for non-potato carrying vehicles, but the last lane didn't seem to have a purpose. We were definitely non-sheep and non-potato, but the last unidentified lane was much less empty than the well-marked potato-free lane. Maybe the final lane was for emergency, police, and freelance-crime fighting vehicles, in which case we could qualify! We quickly scanned the chaos for glimpses of the burly Grumpy-Tourist SUV, but it was nowhere to be found; they had probably smuggled themselves aboard already. People were honking at us! We had to make a decision or we'd be in danger of Icelandic hand gesturing aimed directly at us. We swerved to the empty-unknown lane and inched up to the front. No gesturing, no more honking; we breathed a sigh of relief and decided to formulate our plan of attack. If only we could find their car...

Hey, there's another one of those Clever Clotheslines! exclaimed Madison suddenly. Maybe there's a shop we can actually buy them at! She was pointing at the burly green SUV right next to us. Nooooo! we all gasped collectively as we realized there wasn't a backseat-clothesline fad taking over the island, but that we were now wheel-to-worn-out-wheel with The Accused. From the casual conversation they appeared to be deeply engaged in, they seemed not to have noticed us yet, nor were paying close attention to the Icelandic road signals. Back in our Toyota, we crouched down low and stared straight ahead, not wanting to give away our advantaged position in the Emergency Vehicle Lane. Huddled in the backseat, I scanned their Clever Clothesline and back cargo-area for signs of our possessions. There definitely was evidence of a struggle; their packs looked hastily packed, as though they'd been unpacked and repacked several times in a very short period of time. And for two Adventure-Type-Tourists on the move that was definitely suspicious behaviour! I was stone frozen except for my eyes scanning for rainbow material that could be poking out of their mess. It still wasn't time to board, but at any moment we might be forced to hit the gas pedal!

At the same we moment, us three tourist-detectives, all glanced back to the front seat of the SUV. AHHHHH! we heaved in unison. The thieving-tourists were starring right at us! There easy demeanour melted away instantly. If there was any doubting their obvious guilt, their eyes, more frigid than the sea monstered-loch, cut us with razor-sharp enmity. With my echoing blood spurting in my ears, the Australian driver pushed her seat all the way back, blocking her from view. Icelandic hand gestures were distantly whirring and directing us again so with a slam to the gas pedal, the world jerked out of slow motion.

The lanes were all moving now, one by one. No longer neck and neck, we could digest that moment of shock. They obviously didn't want us to see them, Madison said, gripping the wheel. We are going to have to be careful from now on, Amy warned. They know, we know, that they know. I concluded, feeling just like Pheobe on FRIENDS. More confusing Icelandic gesturing and we were forced out of the car, to continue loading on the ferry on foot. We scrounged around the Toyota, scrambling all the important detective items we'd need to complete the Interrogation Mission. Laptop. Pens and Paper. MAD LIBS. Bread and peanut butter. Malian turbans. It was going to be a long, windy and dangerous ride...

Scene of the Interrogation
Scene of the Interrogation

Once on the ferry, feeling the engines hum under our feet, the next series of events could not have gone more smoothly for us recently turned tourist-detectives.

1) All tourists no matter how much they are running or how much they need to hide, are subject to Icelandic ferry code, meaning we all had to park in the same designated Icelandic ferry parking area. No one is allowed to enter or exit the designated area while the Icelandic ferry is in motion...or else! Both our 1999 Toyota Avensis and their burly SUV were, once again united.

2) All tourists no matter how guilty from thieving or distraught from having lost, can resist going up to the outdoor deck to snap photos as the THE WESTFJORDS!!! slowly melt away into the horizon. We were all united once again.

3) All tourists no matter how professional they are in their detective mission or how professional they are from a career of kidnapping, can resist having a top-deck open-air picnic, dining on volcanic bread and organic sheep skyr. We were all united once again. From the comfort of our bench on the top deck, we decided to corner our prey. As we spread our peanut butter and crunched our bread, we smiled giddily. Every few heart beats all of our eye would lock for a few long breaths. Our nerves straining to support our forced euphoria. Isn't this such a stunning ferry boat?!...Oh! I couldn't agree more!...Don't you just looooove this peanut butter?!...Yes, crunchy is sooooo much better than smooth! HAHAHAHAHA!

I could tell they were having the same struggle: trying to mask their grumpy guilt with equally-forced apathy. They didn't talk very much between their glances over at us. They chit-chatted quietly for a while. Finally, in between our hysterical giggles, I could make out I'm chilly, let's go back downstairs. And the next thing we knew, they had collected their (or maybe stolen) picnic items and were disappearing down the unsteady steps.

COME ON!!! Madison and I were on our feet after them!

Once back below deck, feeling the adrenaline hum in our bodies, the next series of events unfolded somewhat like this...

1) The small ferry actually had quite a lot of space to move around...and hide. We decided to grab a table to store our peanut butter and set-up a home base for the investigation. I mean imagine how silly we'd look running around the boat, wrapped-up in our Malian turbans, carrying left-over picnic food; what kind of detectives are we?! So we found a quiet set up benches, near the gift shop. The young, blonde cashier was fast asleep with his feet up on the counter; perfect.

2) Amy, not having had a horizontal night's sleep in ages, decided to lie on the bench and cover herself up with her turban. I took out my computer, hoping to professional type up the investigation notes and suspect list. Madison pondered, a serious expression on her face.

3) We didn't even have to do another lap of the ship, or pretend to be interested in the rotten shark on the menu at the cafeteria. As I looked up from my intense typing, Madison looked out of her intense thoughts, and Amy continued to doze on the bench, we saw The Accused enter the gift shop. They briskly passed our table and began browsing the expensive merchandise for sale. Very suspicious. 

4) Yes, we should have frantically awoken the sleeping cashier, and told him to STOP THE SHIP IMMEDIATELY, but instead Madison and I locked eyes and decided to keep our cool. We nodded silently at each other and then I quickly clicked opened Season 3 of "The L Word" as bait (you know, just in case The Accused were actually Grumpy-Lesbian-Adventure-Types and then catching even a glimpse of this lesbian drama would guarantee to send them in our direction, right into the interrogation). Instead they'd settled their attention on the giant map of Iceland pinned to the wall slightly opposite us. Very suspicious, we agreed. Why would you consult a giant wall map unless you were running from the law! 

5) They were no more than four feet away from us. They had walked into our perfectly and professional constructed interrogation plan. With Amy in well-rehearsed nap position, no doubt subconsciously aware of everything, it was time to make our move. Madison and I were communicating through our Detective Thought Vibes now.

Let the Interrogation Begin! (the following conversation is transcribed from actual events...this is NOT a joke!)

CAST OF CHARACTERS: SUSPECT 1: Asian Grumpy Tourist SUSPECT 2: Tall Australian Grumpy Tourist Detective Madison: As herself Detective BB: As herself

Detective Amy: As herself Excited Old Lady: Maxine Ferryboat

Suddenly Detective BB is overcome with fear and no words escape her mouth as she turns from her computer screen to confront SUSPECT 1 and SUSPECT 2. Detective Madison takes control of the situation.

Madison: Hey, you guys camped at that natural hot spring near Bildudalur a couple of nights ago, right? SUSPECT 1: 

(long pause) 

Excuse me? Madison:

(casually) 

You know, that hot spring right near Bildudalur. We are sure we saw you there. SUSPECT 2: (

long pauses, SUSPECTS look at each other) 

Oh yeaaaaah. I guessssss.....yeaaaaah...you know it was a while ago.... SUSPECT 1: Yeaaaaah, it was a while ago....I kinda forget....buuuut maaaaaybe....yeah....

SUSPECT 2: Yeah. Yeah I guessss. Yeah. Why? Were you there as well? BB:

(nervously) 

Yeah. Yeah we were there too. You know, that same night.

Madison:

(friendly and warm) 

We remember seeing you there! How are your travels going?

SUSPECT 1: Oh yeah we TOTALLY remember you, don't we?! SUSPECT 2:

(enthusiastically) 

Oh yeah, yeah. Small world! WOW! Crazy... SUSPECT 1: Everything's fine. Good. SUSPECT 2: Yeah, good. Reaally good. Yeah.

(Long Awkward pause)

BB: So...where are you from? SUSPECT 2: Australia. SUSPECT 1: Yeah, yeah you know. Australia. Madison: Oh wow. That's a long journey. SUSPECT: 2: Yeah, yeah. Long journey. SUSPECT 1: Yeah. Yeah... BB: So... SUSPECT 2: Where are you girls from? Are you all friends, you know, just traveling? Madison: 

(pointing to sleeping Detective Amy) 

Well, she's from America, but Beebs and I are from Canada. SUSPECT 1: Oh, okay. Cool. SUSPECT 2: Yeah, yeah. Cool, cool. Madison: So, we noticed that you have this really 

cool 

clothesline-

Excited Old Lady: 

(unnoticed, sitting at the table to the right, suddenly she interjects loudly) 

Where in Canada are you from? BB: 

(looking around to fine the owner of the voice and spots Excited Old Lady, excited eyes directly on them) 

Um....Toronto. Madison: 

(trying to redirect focus to SUSPECTS) 

So, we noticed- Excited Old Lady: Oh, what a coincidence! I am also from Canada! Toronto is a lovely city but I am from British Columbia. Not Vancouver, but in a town near Whistler, ski country. Canada's a vast place!

Madison: I love downhill skiing! I go every year with my family. Yeah, BC is amazing for snow sports. Excited Old Lady: Yes, Toronto wouldn't have very many opportunities for skiing. How do you find traveling in Iceland? Are you enjoying yourselves? Are you students? You look like you could be students. You look younger than my son. He's in his late twenties and has already finished school. But it's hard to tell with young people nowadays. So many different options. It's not like it used to be. Though I always chose to travel whenever I could. I went all around the world with my late husband and now I'm doing a whole tour of the arctic! Imagine!

Madison and BB sneak a glance over to the SUSPECTS but they have snuck away, gone again...

It might have occurred to you that the Excited Old Lady could have been an accomplice of Grumpy-Tourist-Kidnappers, and was creating an annoying diversion in order for SUSPECTS 1 and 2 to get away. However, what was more likely was that the Excited Old Lady was just an amazing free-spirit of an individual, coming into the lives of the lost and worn-out-detectives-turned-back-into-worn-out-tourists at exactly the right time. Madison and BB continued to answer the questions of their new Canadian friend, and in return she shared her name, Maxine, and interesting anecdotes about her life and the many ups and downs, losses and gains, that kept her going, all the way around the world and back, to the arctic and beyond. At over seventy years old, Maxine was hitchhiking around Iceland, staying in hostels, island hopping, and hoping to reach the tips of northern Nunavut, even farther than BB dared go...yet.

Maxine Ferryboat spent the rest of the ride back to the mainland with us. In those three short hours, we forgot about the silly investigation. Instead we thought about ourselves as little excited old ladies and vowed we'd have even half the energy and wisdom of lovely Maxine, sitting on this ferryboat below the arctic circle. It's never too late for anything, and seventy is definitely the new thirty, we decided.

Feeling freer and lighter than ever before, the wheels of our 1999 Avensis finally hit the mainland. It was late, but the arctic sun was still lighting our way. I looked up just in time to see that familiar big, burly vehicle whizzing by, and then pull to a stop at the frantic Icelandic hand-gesturing up ahead.

Stop the car!

I cried.

I have to try one last time.

 I jumped out of the car and rushed over to the SUV. I wasn't a detective anymore. I was just following my shaking legs once again...

I waved to the Australian girls through the window. They enthusiastically waved back. Then I looked back at Madison, fearfully. 

How badly do you want your Everything back? 

she winked. I did an Icelandic-window-roll-down gesture.

Okay bye, have a great rest of your trip! 

They called hurriedly through the open window. I rushed forward.

The-other-night-at-the-campsite-we-left-a-bikini-and-a-wrap-around-skirt-in-the-changing-room-did-you-see-it-by-any-chance? 

I choked out.

The engine revved, and window started to buzz upward. 

No, sorry! Goodbye.

They sped away, gone forever. 

Okay thanks. Goodbye! 

I stumbled back to our car, shaking my head and laughing. And that was that.

Goodbye.

Amy on the mainland
Amy on the mainland

Comment

Comment

Iceland Through and Through PART FIVE

The Mystery of the Vanishing Bikini and Wrap-Around Skirt PART ONERECAP: By this point of our journey through the Icelandic Westfjords (or THE WESTFJORDS!!! as I lovingly refer to them) we've been sleeping upright/curled up in our chilly, lopsided Toyota Avensis each night, and driving through eye-shatteringly stunning scenery by day. We've avoided looking like ancient, homeless trolls because of the wealth of natural hot springs scattered all over, and somehow fended off running out of fuel with a broken gas meter. After an epiphany from a surprise encounter with a powerful waterfall, we finally rested our exhausted minds, unwound our car-cramped bodies in the caress of a hot bath hidden in a grassy hillside. Then we peacefully hung up our bathing suits and towels to dry and drifted off to sleep...

Sunlight between the fjords. I am not sure when this was taken as it is sunny all night long!

Sunlight between the fjords. I am not sure when this was taken as it is sunny all night long!

When we awoke the next morning, THE WESTFJORDS!!! were there as usual, just gazing down at the world, doing there stoically beautiful thing. There were three other cars and families of campers who had rested along side us; they had the proper gear and glossy-magazine-type-camping organization and were already packed up and ready to hit the next glossy-magazine highlight. We were disentangling ourselves from our sleepy state as the first car drove off; it belonged to a happy-looking family with two children. A blonde dread-locked-extreme adventure-type man and his girlfriend were packing up their winter-proof tent, and exchanging smiles with us, no doubt amused by out lack-of-tent and thermal gear. The remaining car belonged to two women, one of Asian background and the other a brunette grumpy-and-focused-extreme-adventure type with an Australian accent. We noticed their hastiness to pack up their gear, avert their eyes away from us, and a moment later drove off 'round the bend in road. We exchanged quizzical glances; we'd never seen anyone in Iceland who was neither friendly nor calmly enjoying life. Always the positive spirit, Madison commented on how she thought it was clever how they'd hung up a clothes-line in the backseat of their SUV. We pondered the idea of having our clothes neatly hung up wherever we drove for all to admire... then we looked at the overflowing backseat of our deteriorating car and shook our heads. On that note, we decided to collect our cold, drying clothes and move on to the next town's spa for our daily underwear change and teeth brushing session.

Here's where our adventure takes an ominous turn: while Madison's bikini was still neatly resting outside, inside the tiny wooden changing structure, Amy and my garments had fared much worse. While my old mouldy towel and bathing suit were still there, Amy's cool Californian tie-dyed bikini was not. What was worse, My Everything (aka a long, warm wrap-around skirt from Nepal that can be used as a blanket/towel/lovely dress/everything else and was given to me by a friend I'd met in Ghana, so therefore had irreplaceable sentimental value!) was no longer neatly draped over a plank of wood....no it, too, was gone! After checking here, there and everywhere (and in a little knoll at the base of an barren fjord I can safely say we checked everywhere) we determined that our items were gone...or (insert dramatic crime movie music) stolen! Although it was quite possible that it could have been little fairies, elves or angry trolls, we decided it was more probable that the kidnapping was committed by humans. What would Bildudalur fairies possibly want with a bathing suit and an Everything?! 

We'd seen plenty of detective dramas to know exactly what to do at this point. So like any well-read Nancy Drew-expert, we decided to: Step 1) Devise a suspect list. Our list looked something like this:

1. Happy Family with two children 2. Icelandic Dreadlocked-Adventure Couple 3. Grumpy Women with a clever clothes line 4. Bildudalur elves, fairies, and trolls

Step 2) Brainstorm possible motives/alibis/suspicions of the suspects in connection with the kidnapping of our innocent items Our new list looked something like this:

1. Happy Family with two children: Motive: Children like to have more stuff and haven't learned that kidnapping is wrong Suspicions: The family packed up first thing in the morning and was the first to leave the campsite. Alibi: Our items wouldn't fit the children, and children like new things. The family was already asleep by the time we arrived at the campsite so wouldn't know that we'd left sentimentally-valuable and California-cool items unlocked. 2. Icelandic Dreadlocked-Adventure Couple: Motive: Adventure-type people are attracted to fair-trade Nepalese and tie-tyed things. Suspicions: Low. They were friendly to us, and made a natural conversation (unless they were very, very good actors...hmmm). Alibi: They are Icelandic and the crime rate in iceland is less than 1% and the less than 1% of crime that occurs in Iceland is done by tourists, therefore by being Icelandic, statistically speaking, they should be removed immediately from this list). 3. Grumpy Women with a Clever Clothes Line: Motive: Adventure-type people are attracted to fair-trade Nepalese and tie-dyed things. They also needed more things to hang on their clothes line. Suspicions: Hastily left the campsite, avoided eye contact with us, appeared uncomfortable when Madison was admiring the Clever Clothes Line. Alibi: None. Tourists are, statistically, capable of crime. Since one was Asian and the other was speaking with an Australian accent we can safely say they are tourists and thus capable of theft! 4. Bildudalur elves, fairies and trolls No need to fill this out, just refer back to Suspect 3!!!

We knew the next courses of action would be tricky as we were dealing with two grown women who were capable of kidnapping, successfully navigating themselves around a strange country, and booking an enjoyable, yet somehow grumpy, vacation for themselves. They were definitely dangerous and now our items were somewhere in THE WESTFJORDS!!! that was all we knew. And by this time My Everything and Amy's hippie bikini would already be dry so there would be no need to hang them visibly on the Clever Clothes Line. We had a moment of silence for our kidnapped possessions and decided to continue our journey anyway. I lent Amy my Calvin Kline booty shorts so at least she'd be able to mourn her bathing suit from the comfort of the Icelandic baths. We bid farewell to the Icelandic Extreme-Adventure couple, not mentioning that they had momentarily been suspects in an international kidnapping case.

Even without our beloved belongings, the next few days in the Bildudalur fjords passed by amazingly well...as usual in the WESTFJORDS!!!!

Skrímsli  means sea monster!

Skrímsli means sea monster!

We learned quite a lot about the history of local Skrimsli (sea monsters) at the Bildudalur Sea Monster Museum and mulled over the possibility of a Shore Laddie or Giant Sea Horse having been involved in the kidnapping. We had a lovely long chat with the manager of the museum, clad in a tale coat and French moustache, about the availability of houses in the area because I was interested in staying there forever. He didn't laugh, flinch or think me odd when I told him I was descended from the Bidudalur Elves; in fact, he thought that was a perfectly acceptable answer as to why I wanted to acquire property and citizenship to a sea monster-filled neighbourhood. Museum Moustachio (we forgot to ask him his real name) politely told us that the best way would be to marry one of the local lads since apparently there is a vast shortage of women in THE WESTFJORDS!!! I said I was more interested in the Shore Laddies.

We went for a very long walk to an Interesting Place on a map, even though we had no idea what the Interesting Place would be, or when or where we would find it. We walked for a very long time, mulling over the word Interesting; it seemed everything was interesting, so opening our eyes wide enough to see what could be extra-extra Interesting, Map-Worthy-Interesting, was an interesting challenge. Finally, we decided that it's just interesting to go for a walk to an unknown Interesting Place and that the person making the map (probably a lonely old Icelandic lad, living in fear of Scrimsli and tourist-kidnappings of his possessions) probably was paid to put Interesting dots on the map and didn't have any intention of checking whether or not the dots represented places that were actually of Interest. We decided we should take more walks in the future, whether or not they end up in Map-Worthy-Dots.

The next day we found an unmarked Interesting boat and took some Interesting photos with it. It was a very Interesting Place to take Truno band shots!

Pause for a band photo!
Pause for a band photo!

The next series of photos were snapped at the Latrabjarg cliffs, the most Westerly point of Europe (just in case you are interested in Interesting Map Dots and Facts). They are also home to swarms of cuddly, squishy and cute puffins. We spent a good hour here trying to kidnap the puffins like the nasty, interest-seeking tourists we surely are.

Puffins on the cliffs of Latrabjarg, the most Westerly point in all of Europe!
Puffins on the cliffs of Latrabjarg, the most Westerly point in all of Europe!
IMG_3645
IMG_3645
IMG_3623
IMG_3623
Photo expert Madison loved the puffins
Photo expert Madison loved the puffins

After all the photo taking at the bird-filled cliffs, and being so repulsed by a mixture of poop and feather fluff that we decided to set free all the puffins we tourists had kidnapped into the 1999 Toyota Avensis, we only had a few hours to catch our ferry back to mainland Iceland. We were sad to leave the magic and the peace we'd found in THE WESTFJORDS!!! but also anxious that Karen, our Australian GPS wouldn't remember where the ferry was, and then we'd be forced into a marriage with a Shore Laddie in order to survive here forever. So away through the fog and clouds, down the windy unpaved roads we went, ears popping from the altitude for the last time.

My future house
My future house

We arrived early at the ferry docks and could already see the boat making its triumphant second and final daily trip across the sea. Many cars and trucks were lined up, and ready to go. Amy had to nip to the loo (go the bathroom) for the millionth time (sorry Amy, but you really do need to go...A LOT) so we piled into the tiny wooden coffee and supplies shop at the bottom of the hillside. There was a line for the bathroom so we patiently waited in the queue, sharing friendly smiles with the other passengers. One of the woman waiting had a grumpy expression, and as soon as I made eye contact with her, she averted her eyes and shuffled off to the back of the queue, looked around slowly, and then hurried out the door on to the porch; she stared out at the sea with her back to us. Hmmm, that was weird, I thought.

A moment later, the door to the loo creaked open revealing a young Asian woman clad in adventure-type gear. My throat went dry and my stomach collapsed at my feet. I could feel Madison's tummy hit the ground beside me. Amy dashed into the bathroom. We didn't have time to make a plan of action, so we gave our best, most angelic grins and enthusiastic nods of traveller-recognition, you know, the kind that fellow budget travellers who think they will never see one another other again do when they coincidentally buy tickets for the same ferry on a very small tip of Iceland in which only 3% of tourists visit, including the 0.02% who like to steal damp beachwear and the 0.01% who are innocent victims of such crimes. The Asian woman nodded stiffly, hesitated, and then walked right out the shop and stood beside the grumpy Australian, arms folded away from us. We could see them whispering, plotting, planning to hide the evidence...and possibly dump our bikinis, and now our bodies, over the side of the ferry at Flatey Island. Before Amy could flush, they were briskly walking down the porch and away...

Step 3) Investigate your suspects. Well, at this point they were no longer suspects, they were The Accused! Thanks to our list and detailed detecting, we could have called the police, but we didn't know the Icelandic number for 911, so we decided to stay hot on their tail and, really, how far could they get on a twelve vehicle ferry boat!

Finally Amy emerged from the bathroom and we filled her in on the situation, from the grumpy faces to the whispering, right down to the walking away from the porch. Amy was a little more reluctant to affirm their obvious guilt:

What if those aren't the same people? she pointed out. HOW MANY ASIAN PEOPLE ARE THERE IN THE WESTFJORDS!!! Madison and I snapped back, yes I'll admit, slightly paranoid. Okay, well...what if they didn't take our stuff? Amy pondered.You're honestly going to pin this on a happy family or vacationing Icelandic couple who were very friendly?! Amy be logical! We have to come up with a plan! Madison and were getting more hysterical. Amy still wasn't entirely convinced, being the thoughtful MA in School Psychology that she is.Madison took Amy's hands and, summoning up her most authentic Oprah spirit she said, Amy, I understand where you're coming from, but how does losing your bikini really make you feel? Amy thought for a moment... Okay, let's go after those grumpy thieving tourist- Bitches! I added, you know, just to be the bad Canadian cop for once...

Will the Three Tourist-Detectives bring the Grumpy-Thieving-Adventure-Tourists to justice? Or will the cool bikini, and BB's Everything disappear into the dark depth off the coast Vatnsfjörður forever? Or will Amy come to her senses and just look up the number for 9-1-1?

TO BE CONTINUED...

Comment

Comment

Iceland Through and Through.

PROLOGUE. Home is where my heart Is. And since my heart is in my chest, my home will always be where I am, at present. And I am nomadic.

IMG_3429
IMG_3429

After moving up to Canada’s arctic during the dark of darkest winter, what a better way to welcome summer back into my life than by re-visiting all the places I call home. I believe I am an Elf, or in other words a wondering spirit, sandwiched between worlds and now different cities and cultures. I knew from my beginnings at Bathurst and College in Toronto that I was restless and would probably spend a lifetime searching for a place I could truly fit in, but knowing I had a challenge ahead of me, well, that brought me peace instead of fear. Through constant jetlag, extreme climate changes, parasites and all-night sun, I have discovered that there is no one place I have been searching for, but that bridging the gaps and going the distances is what I need to survive. Once feeling out-of-place and alone, I now have a mismatched family spanning the globe. Just as oceans eventually lead to streams that twist and turn and tumble out somewhere new, I have realized that we are all connected much more easily than we think. I hold myself accountable to understanding and standing up for the environments, cultures and different people I have met, who have laughed with me and acknowledged me along the way, no matter which way my path crossed, and uncrossed and crossed over again.

Northwestern region.
Northwestern region.

Not counting the many years I spent as a baby Elf living and splashing deep inside the geothermal pools under the volcanic glaciers, this is my fourth trek back to Iceland, my official and spiritual home. I don’t know if it’s the feeling I get as I am sucked into the clouds while trekking along the high fjords, or the way the glaciers see right through me when we once again are face-to-face, at a distance, yet close together. Something about this vast land has spoken to me for a long time, and I can feel the presence of some magic lurking behind the rocks and shadows left by the midnight sun. I could get lost here forever and ever and ever, and everything would work itself out. It just would.

Midnight, June 21st 2013. Northwest Iceland.
Midnight, June 21st 2013. Northwest Iceland.

This journey back to Iceland was even more special as I was traveling with two of my bestest friends, who are now fused into my life by either a mutual love of singing, or being forced to make fancy  coffee for a big corporation for years and years, as well as our common mission to be world explorers and Revolutionaries. Our first Revolutionary mission was to visit the Westfjords, the claw-like region on the very Northwest of the island, where only 7000 humans live (mostly farmers, fishermen, or moustache-clad directors of a Sea Monster or Wizardry museum…yes, the moustache is must-have), and only 3% of tourists visit. Being part of the 99% on previous Occupy missions, we were determined to be the 3% that ventured to the WESTFJORDS! While looking on a map in the rental car office about an hour after we got off our overnight flight from Toronto, I noticed there was a little town in west fjord of the West Fjords labeled Bildudalur. As a Bilodottir, I could feel my Elvish heart itching to set my feet there…

The quest for The Interesting Place
The quest for The Interesting Place

Comment