Yesterday morning, I took a picture of a dandelion. It wasn’t even a good picture, as you can see. I didn’t try that hard and gave up quickly. If that doesn’t tell you something about the scenery situation I had found myself in, then let me put it bluntly: that was the most interesting thing I could find to photograph.
I had plans of the first post I would write after arriving here, all about what I had seen and done and how amazing and beautiful it was. Clearly, that post does not exist, so something went haywire. My first three days in Iceland consisted of sitting in the Keflavik Airport (which is more practical than architecturally profound), taking several buses through a drizzling Reykjavik (only getting a brief glance at the quaint town center where tourists flock), and arriving on a farm in a very small town that, as someone commented on one of my pictures, looks a lot like Illinois.
It’s not that I haven’t been enjoying myself. My host family is wonderfully sweet and welcomed me right away. I feel comfortable here, and I dove into our remodeling project and housework with my usual workaholic devotion. But yesterday morning, as I was building up some nice calluses by sanding down a buttload of wooden posts, I began to think, “What am I doing here? What is the point of this? Why couldn’t I just work in America and get paid for it? What if I never see all the amazing things Iceland is hiding over the horizon?”
Considering I’m staying for almost two months, and that was only day four, it was a little early to be worrying that I would fail to go sight-seeing in the entirety of my stay here. However, ridiculous thoughts infiltrate the mind when the only real thing to focus on is how to keep the pre-tornado-like winds from blowing more sawdust into your eyes.
And just when I needed to be reminded of why I chose Iceland as my first Workaway experience, my host told me there was a new café having a grand opening that afternoon. Would I like to attend the party with them? A part of me was thinking this would be a great chance to catch some alone time, maybe even take a nap, but I’ve made a vow to never refuse anything offered, so I said yes, of course. There might be food, so why not? I’m thinking this café is somewhere in the tiny town of Hvolsvullor, although I can’t imagine where, since my host has already given me the full tour, and there were only two eateries included.
Turns out, this restaurant was not in our town. It was about a half-hour drive down the road that runs right in front of the farm. The Ring Road. Oh yes, I had not yet connected the dots to realize that the many vehicles passing our long driveway are on their way around the famous road circling the entire island and including a great many tourist scenery favorites. In just that half-hour drive, I saw enough to completely revive my faith.
Snow-capped mountains, grassy knolls, and rocky crags littered with herds of sheep, cattle, and Icelandic horses. So many waterfalls cascading off of ledges and swooping their way down the mountainsides. Red-roofed barns. Cave houses. Black-sand beaches. The Atlantic ocean. That volcano that erupted six years ago and put Iceland in the news for possibly the first time in my life. A herd of horses galloping through a field with the wind in their manes.
I saw a lamb frolic. Not kidding. It was a fluffy lamb too, so that’s currently replacing cat videos as the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.
I’m sitting in the front seat of the car that my host’s father is driving (due to the language barrier, I’m not yet sure what I should call him, so I just refer to him as Grandfather), and he’s quietly pointing out this and that every now and then. That’s Hekla, the first mountain in from the ocean. Those birds are nesting in the rocks up there. Mostly though, we drive in silence. I’m perfectly calm and serene.
Acting lessons have paid off.
Me on the inside: WHERE IS MY CAMERA?? WHY AREN’T WE STOPPING?? WHY IS THIS THE FIRST TIME I’M SEEING ALL THIS?? WHY DID NOBODY TELL ME WE WOULD BE PASSING BEAUTY?? WHY IS ALL OF THIS SO NORMAL FOR YOU GUYS?? OH MY LORD, THAT LAMB IS FROLICKING!!
It was a good day. I have pictures of none of it, and I’m okay with that. I’m a strange mix of calm and restless now. I know what’s out there, only a few minutes down the road really, so part of me is assured that I will see it all again, and the other part of me wants to go see it again RIGHT NOW!
The café was lovely, and sure to get plenty of business, being conveniently located right on the side of the Ring Road. It is bright and cheery inside, with gorgeous views of the mountains out the back windows. If the complimentary soup, cake, and wine I got are a true example of the menu, then I can guarantee that it will be a delicious stop.
I also had the pleasure of meeting a fellow Workawayer from France who is staying with a host family not too far away from me. The joy of this program is that it creates a rather small world, and once you meet up with others, you can partner for road trips, sightseeing, and many random adventures.
Moral of the story: I’m not sure if there is a moral. I was having a decently good time, and then it just got way better. I guess I’m just bragging at this point. Hopefully, another more self-paced road trip lies in the near future and will result in more pictures and stories. Until then, I’ll be here, building a bed.