Tuesday, October 2, 2012

when you travel alone in iceland…

One week will feel like months. You alone will bear witness to each meeting, vision, and song. No one will remember it for you. Because of this, each small moment will expand to hold multitudes.

No one will ask if we can listen to someone other than Björk or Natasha Khan. And no one will tell you that stopping the car six times in twenty minutes to take pictures of sheep is exorbitant.

And if you want Icelandic lobster soup for dinner three nights in a row, then by golly, you will have Icelandic lobster soup for dinner three nights in a row (and it will be perfect each time).

Travelers and locals alike will open up easily to you; a solitary woman traveler always rouses questions and good manners. A group of Icelandic artists will invite you to lunch. The head priest of Iceland’s ancient earth religion will drive you to the site of their future temple. A car full of travelers (none of whom are from the same country) will take you out for a beer.

You will find it hard, harder than you imagined, to completely unplug from the internet. You will connect to wifi where you can, checking email and sharing photos on Instagram. It’s habit, not loneliness, that prevents you from letting go.

But once you’re on the road with only mountains on the horizon, you will disconnect from the outside world for three whole days. You would never have believed a day could be so long and could hold so much.

You will park your car by the ocean, protected by cliffs and sea birds, and sleep in the back seat of your car in the light of the almost-full blue moon. You will feel completely safe.

You think you might die when you’re driving through the arctic desert and the wind toys with your tiny car like a cat plays with a mouse, bobbing side to side, palms sweaty against the wheel. You will not die.

Instead, you will see this:

And on your last day, you will drastically change your itinerary because of a recommendation from a stranger, and you will see 10 rainbows within two hours on this unplanned venture.


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