I’ll admit it, I came to Iceland on a whim. I found an artists residency that looked cool, and applied.
I thought Iceland would be, well, the name kinda says it. But it’s quite green where I am, and the weather’s been between 8-18 C, or, um, 46-65 F. The 46 was in between two glaciers, the 65 was hiking up a mountain in the sun. As I grow more comfortable with Celsius I am starting to lose my grip on Fahrenheit. I already think in Celsius for cooking. The ovens here have incomprehensible symbols (“what does the Mercedes Benz one do?”).
Food packaging here is labeled in at least three languages, sometimes many more. Today I had ramen made in China, cinnamon rolls from Sweden, tea I got in Ireland, cornflakes from the UK, Icelandic milk and produce. I can either be horrified by this or accept that I am a truly global being.
Landing at Reykjavik you think you are landing on the moon. Lunar rocks everywhere. The airline I flew is named after an active volcano. I had been under the impression that there were no trees in Iceland and I was relieved to be wrong, although they all seem quite young. The locals say, “If you are lost in the forest in Iceland, stand up.”
There are two spas in the town where I am living, one for the tourists and one for the locals, a supermarket/gas station, a few restaurants, and very little else. There are sheep in my yard. They stay up all night eating grass and then lie around during the day as if stoned. Both genders have horns.
The sun does not set this time of year. It just goes behind the mountain for a while. This is profoundly disconcerting, and you get used to it. I don’t know how well I would cope in near-perpetual darkness, I’ve been told Icelanders do a lot of arts and crafts during the winter. People here are pretty comfortable speaking English, but they speak Icelandic among themselves. The money has pictures of people with books.
Most of Iceland is run on geothermal energy. A new friend of mine here, aged seven, wrinkled his nose at the smell of the hot water, comparing it to cooked eggs, until I said that the water was heated by volcanoes. “Nobody told me that!” he said, his eyes growing huge.
The worst part about Iceland is the flies. I have accidentally swallowed two now, while hiking. Flicking a scarf around one’s face tends to help. Wind is the only real solution.
Everything is expensive here, except wool. Wool is astonishingly cheap.