Yesterday we returned, reluctantly, from a vacation in Iceland. The mind, though, is still there: in the streets of Reykjavik, full of color and gaiety; on the shores of lake Myvatn, swarming with midges; in the vast emptiness of the southern coast, with astonishing cliffs where arctic puffins nest and fly about in strange circles; in the bizarre landscape of moss-covered lava fields; in the salty warmth of the blue lagoon; amidst the Icelanders, relaxed yet enthusiastic.
There is a desire to write at length about this journey. It has been an atypical trip; the process of writing will, I hope, bring out the differences and clarify them. The most obvious difference, something that came to view in little things during the last ten-days, was this: Iceland is a simple nation.
300,000 inhabitants; one city – Reykjavik – and a bunch of towns; one people; one religion; one language (that has changed little in a thousand years); no neighboring states; a straightforward – though turbulent – history; a handful of occupations. (The most complex thing you find are Icelandic names: of the dozen or so Icelanders I had a conversation with, I cannot clearly recollect even one full name.)
This simplicity will be a recurring theme. But before I get to Iceland, I have some debts – accrued in the busy summer so far – that I have to get off my back: the music festival in Belfort, and the saturday market at Lausanne. There are no travel plans for the next six weeks – not counting the occasional meet-the-wife trip to Brussels – so all this writing should get done. I have no excuses this time.
8 thoughts on “Back from Iceland”
So we don’t get to hear about Iceland till next year??????
it should not be difficult to keep those thoughts about iceland in hibernation for a year!
i thought at least icelandic last names were pretty simple to remember, like svensson (for sven’s son) and svensdottir (for sven’s daughter). or am i dreaming? you still need to remember father’s first name though ;-).
Have you read this interesting article by Michael lewis on Iceland http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2009/04/iceland200904?
lovely picture and lovely prose…cant wait for the rest of your writing. Been a while eh?
Keep them on ice, you mean, s.b.?
But what about global warming?
iceland! wow! hurry hurry….am dying to know more. the colour green resembles the ghats here in monsoon :-)…i thot i will never see that colour anywhere on earth.
This is tempt and go…not fair! and more pictures please
Kahini: Not really. I plan for the year after next.
Somebody: Here is a test: take one look at the name below and then, looking away, try to recollect and say it aloud.
Einar Hjörleifsson Kvaran
OK, that was a bit extreme. The more common ones are simpler (and follow the rule you mentioned), but I had great difficulty in mapping the way Icelanders pronouned their names to how it is written. After asking a few to repeat themselves, I gave up.
Rathish: As I mentioned last week, the article is interesting but the tone is unfortunate. Pity.
Alpha: “Been a while” – you are too polite. No excuses can explain my long silence, and no apology can make up for it. A long mail is what I need to work on, immediately!
Bips: And has the monsoon arrived? I read about someone waiting desperately for it….