Last week, we had a bit of time off from volunteering and ended up renting a car to drive to the Westfjords in Iceland. We didn’t have much time to plan, since we arrived on the 31st of May in Iceland and almost immediately had one of our monthly weeks off. We work quite a lot at our volunteering gig for the summer, but there is a ton to learn.
Just yesterday we learned to lead rock wall climbing and abseiling for the kids. I learned how to tie a few hitches and knots, and less than 20 minutes later I climbed out of a 10-metre tower relying on my own handiwork to hold me up. Here I am, writing…so it worked!
But I digress.
The Westfjords are some of the most empty parts of the vast emptiness that is Iceland. In fact, when I just looked at the Wikipedia page to get some background information, I saw that the population has declined in the region in recent years. It was once a frontier-like fishing industrial region, but much of that is gone now.
It was indescribably beautiful. Empty. Quiet. Gorgeous. Perpetually twilight. Arctic. It is clear why the Icelandic Sagas often used these fjords as their backdrop. It is a breathtaking blend of dizzying heights of the mountains and the flat, gunmetal gray of the mercurial seas below.
On our first day, we hitched a ride with one of the folks who lives at our camp to Reykjavik, and picked up our car from Lagoon Cars (recommend!), and headed out of the city. We stopped periodically to catch the waterfalls and the clean air, but made great time anyway. Our goal was Súðavík, a small town of 150ish people on one of the fjords. The water outside was insanely clear and hurt my eyes with the blue it held.
We pulled in around 19:00. The sun just never sets at the moment in Iceland, leading to some sort of time vertigo in me at least. I never have a clue what time it is. The next day we ended up stumbling upon a perfect view of the midnight sun, but that’s to come tomorrow.
Iceland is everything that I could have hoped for in the depths of my struggles in Shanghai this year, he sheer manifestation of the deepest wishes I swore to at least attempt to make true with my headphones in, blasting music at my desk in the office, with five minutes until my next class. The Westfjords in particular are wild and built like a perfect, supportive playground for the rare Nomadic Coleens of the world. Cold water, hot water pools to soak in, waterfalls to play near, hiking and nature and sheep and delicious foods.
Things that should be so natural and easy, like fresh water and air, were so far removed in our year in China. It is a personal miracle every time I can drink directly from a stream here, with the cold water filling my hands, crouched by the banks of the fast water in a gesture that would be familiar to my most ancient ancestors…which is always in my minds as some whiff of forgotten instinct when I’m hiking. Never enacted, never dared. Until now.
It is such a treat to be here, and even if the work is occasionally long or chaotic (No more sweet peppers to chop tonight, please! My arms are sore after the first ten!), it is so worth it to be here with my husband and live in this beautiful place. Shanghai seems a lifetime ago, even if I only stepped onto the plane 38 days ago. This week I should become certified in leading archery and taking kiddos on the lake in boats, and soon in First Aid. Boom, epic English Teachers who are super fun as well. Yes. I hope to be so.
It’s sunny out and 22:40, so I’m rambling a little. Time for the photos of the Westfjords that you came to see. Just click to make them bigger and inspect the beauty for yourselves.