Europe, Iceland

Iceland: A Place of Beauty

Europe Iceland

Iceland. The smells, the sights, the northern lights. The odd foods, harsh drinks, and pleasant people. Iceland is an odd country, a country I can’t fully explain. How do you explain what it’s like to stand a stones throw away from a glacier, listening to the waterfalls of the melting ice, standing on the shifting base of the glacier and carefully trekking through the ash and sand, knowing it could cave in at any moment.

Breathing the moment in, I was filled with a mix of emotions; I felt at the top of the earth, and yet, so small, almost insignificant, in comparison to the Glacier. I leaned over and filled my hands with the water from the stream birthing from the iceberg and took a big sip. Again I filled my lungs with the fresh air and looked across the valley. Where, like in all of Iceland, my view stood unobstructed by trees.

The moss covered ground littered by the sweetest wild berries I have ever tasted dominated the lava fields and hills. Green moss, black rock, and white glaciers covered the landscape, occasionally, interrupted by geysers. Alone and pure, the only way to describe the view was, other worldly. Our method of transportation was a super Jeep. It is a huge van with 52 inch tires that is not bothered by even the fastest flowing rivers or steep hills. As I write this, I struggle to put into words the beauty of the undisturbed sights the waterfalls, the rivers, the mountains, and the oddity of the country.

You don’t realize the magnitude and force of waterfalls until, well, you experience it. Walking towards a waterfall, it is impossible to just stop walking towards it. I tried to stay dry but the closer I got, the more I got sprayed, and the more I felt the need to get even closer. The cold wind and water filled the air around me. Dripping wet, I decided to climb down to the very bottom of a waterfall and it seemed to draw me closer and closer and closer. Impossible to resist, I kept going and just stared in awe at the power of the waters and for a second, a feeling of powerlessness took over me, realizing the how small and fragile we truly are.

Exhausted and with back pain from the constant bouncing on the super Jeep, we come to a small restaurant. With the temperatures dropping and a wet shirt from getting a little too excited next to a waterfall, I was itching to go inside, only to find out that there was two things on the menu, Langoustine soup, and, well, Langoustines. Generally speaking, I stay away from food I have to fight with and something about langoustines pushes me away. However, I was cold, tired, and hungry. I ordered a heavy porter and began to fight with the 6 garlic soaked langoustines that I had on my plate. The amount of meat was underwhelming, however, it was delicious and rewarding and with a full stomach, the adventure was missing a final touch.

Every traveller has a bucket list and moments they want to experience. Atop of that list for me, and I dare say, most is seeing the Northern lights. The elusive green phenomenon that captivates the imaginations of the masses was there that night. I looked up at the dark sky and felt the cold wind in my head. I had gotten hungry again and I made a cup of noodles. I smelled the cup of noodles and I felt the warm vapor. As if out of a movie, I saw a faint green light in the distance. It drew closer and closer and then they were over me, the northern lights were here! I crossed the Northern lights off my bucket list. As I stood outside of my room, I drank the kool-aid and realized that I was in a special place. Iceland? the moon? another planet? Lines got blurred at that moment, but whatever it was, I knew it was special.

Contributed by Herzen Cortes