The Day of Black Sun

Checking out the botanical garden in whatever city you’re visiting is generally a good idea. Especially when it’s the second-largest in the country in terms of variety. But all that it moot when the entirety of the garden is covered in enough snow to drown a yeti. 

Iceland’s weather is as unpredictable as it is extreme. In the three short weeks I’ve been here, I’ve seen at least 6 major snow storms and 1 record-breaking windstorm, separated by mini-wind storms that bring enough sunshine to melt nearly all of the snow away, just to be covered over again the next day with more snow and ice. The shades areas, like the botanical garden, don’t melt, though. They just stay frozen, so they may not be worthwhile to visit in the winter.
What actually IS worthwhile I walking up a fjord to see an eclipse. On March 20, 2015, a total solar eclipse graced the Faroe Islands and parts of Northern Europe. Somehow I’ve made it so far north that it was only a 99.5% solar eclipse which is apparently not enough to see the sun’s corona.
Either way, I woke up early in the morning so that Kristín could drop me off at the farm on the other side of the river before heading to town. I was to spend the morning hiking up high enough to see the eclipse over the mountains on the other side and the stupid clouds that seemed to linger just to spite me.

After over an hour of hiking, the eclipse was set to start and I found a rock sitting atop a raised mound and picked it as a vantage point. The color of the snow and rocks and moss were already changing with the darkening sun, and I could feel my firebending growing weak.
At this point I couldn’t help but notice I was drenched in sweat, and the still air that had floated lazily past me at the bottom of the fjord had grown angry and was biting through my coat, threatening to freeze my hands and skin in place… But this was not the time to complain about cold weather. Eclipse time!

I would have stayed longer to watch the moon move out the way (GET OUT THE WAY), but it was friggin’ cold. And so began the long, long, long walk back to the house.

During the crazy ridiculous magnetic storm that dazzled much of the northern hemisphere on Tuesday night (which I missed because of 100% cloud cover; screw you, arctic weather), one of our neighbors’ greenhouses caught fire and their entire yield was ruined, so we planned on having them over for dinner that night. First, my hosts took me on a drive through the countryside to show me some of their favorite spots in Iceland.
After a certain point, Grettir turned back to ask, ”Would you believe there is a waterfall near here? Can you guess where it is?”
Looking around, there wasn’t any evident are where a waterfall might be. But then out of nowhere, just a few meters off the road, there it was. Goðafoss.

Goðafoss, or ”waterfall of the gods” is so named because of a story dating back to the turn of the 11th century. The ‘Lawspeaker’ Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði supposedly threw statues of the Norse pagan gods into the waterfall as a symbolic representation of Iceland’s conversion to Christianity in 1000CE. Ironically, 1015 years later, just last week the Icelandic government approved the construction of a Neopagan temple in Reykjavík.
But Liv from Drammen sent me the stuff I left in Norway the day I missed my flight! That woman seriously should run the world. It would be a better place. Not to mention she included a little packet of chocolate tea with a note:
 GAH. I’m going to live in Norway. Bye Feliciaaaaa.
Another WorkAwayer from Akureyri contacted me and invited me to hang out with her and her roommate at the local hostel. As weird as it sounds, it seems that Icelanders get just as excited about their sports games as Americans do– screaming at the television, yelling at each other and crying out in joy or gasping with disappointment when goals are made. That’s what I walked into, but the game was over just a few minutes after I’d made it in to meet fellow workawayers Lucia, from Spain, and Marie, from Germany.
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Lucia has already been here several months working at a local café while searching for a job so that she can stay in Iceland long-term. Marie is like me; outgoing, adventurous, and has an insatiable appetite for travel. She’s been here several weeks and will stay until the end of April, when she hopes to do another job in Thessaloniki, Greece (where I would not recommend spending your vacation).
 Plans are in the works to see some more of Northern Iceland… to be continued.