Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Seismic Event

I came home yesterday from doing some work and Colby asks, "Did you feel the earthquake?"  

Excuse me...The Earthquake?  I must have missed that. 

Supposedly the whole apartment rattled, but I didn't believe him until I saw this in the news this morning:

"Iceland’s south western Reykjanes Peninsula has been experiencing a huge amount of seismic activity in recent days. 438 earthquakes have occurred in the region in the last 48 hours alone."


That's wierd, because I haven't even felt one.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Glacier Adventure; Part 2

The rest of the story…

So, my classmate had mentioned that she was thinking about staying at a friend’s house out where we were hiking. She wasn’t sure exactly how we would get home from the glacier (over 2 hours away), but assured us that it would work out. She drove me and her room-mate, Evelyn, half way home and then dropped us off at a bus station to ride the bus the rest of the way home. All was good; the sun was shining and we were chatting as we waited with a few others for the bus to come. I sensed something was wrong when the other people at the bus stop got up, checked the bus scheduled, groaned, then walked away.
I got up to see for myself…sure enough, the bus didn’t come every hour like we thought. It would be hours until the next bus came. How could this happen?! We had checked the bus schedule 3 times…

Evelyn didn’t hesitate. “We can just hitch-hike home,” she said casually. My eyes got big, and sensing my fear, she remarked, “Nobody has ever been raped hitchhiking in Iceland…it’s very common here.”

I wasn’t so sure.

Trying to persuade me, she threw out a final comment that she knew would get me… “I thought you believed in God!” I sighed and rolled my eyes as we went to the edge of town, stood on the side of the road, and stuck out our thumbs. I felt like I was in one of the old stories my mom used to tell me of when she hitchhiked across Iowa in the 60’s. I decided to time how long this experience would last:

3 minutes pass. Car after car go past, slowing down only to look quizzically at us. Moms, with kids in the back, look at us regretfully. Older people look at us with confusion. They must be American tourists, I think to myself.

6 minutes pass. I wonder what these people are thinking of me right now. Are they not picking me up because they are suspicious of me? Maybe if I smile, they will trust me. Maybe if I hold up a sign that says, I am a mother of two small children and I just want to get home to tuck them in bed tonight, they’ll show some mercy. I flash my pearly whites to the next group of cars, but no one seems impressed.

8 minutes. Evelyn informs me that it’s usually not the nice cars that stop. The junky cars are our best bet. Oh Great, that’s real comforting...Then, I realize that I am being suspicious and judgmental…the very thing I’m hoping others won’t be towards me! *sigh*

11 minutes. The wind is starting to pick up and I am starting to get cold. Evelyn starts talking about going inside to take a break from the weather. I start to calculate in my head how long it would take to run/walk 61 kilometers back to Reykjavik. It’s going to be a long night…

13 minutes. How do I always get myself into these predicaments? Maybe this is what I get for all the times I have driven past poor hitch-hikers that I assumed were from America’s Most Wanted. I try to call Colby, but my cell phone has no service.

15 minutes. I am starting to doubt this Icelandic system of getting around.

At approximately 17 minutes, a young guy in a black truck pulled over and motioned us to hop in his car. In an effort to prove my confidence in God, I marched right up to the window and asked if he was going to Reykjavik. Of course, was his reply…(like, where else is there to go on this island?). I selfishly gave Evelyn shot-gun and slid into the back seat, figuring that if he attacked, I was farther away and had more time to escape. Oh Lord, forgive me…

The conversation started out in Icelandic, but quickly moved to English as he inquired why in the world I would move to Iceland from the states. I explained that I was learning about religion in Iceland and he quickly opened up about his own beliefs which included a belief in fairies—or the hidden people—as they call it. In fact, he pointed out, the hill to my right was believed to be occupied by fairies, and the road we were driving on had to be built around it. I asked if he also believed in trolls, but he dismissed it rather quickly, saying THAT WAS MERELY A FAIRYTALE.

My body was stiff as I listened to this stranger in whose hands held my very life and I tried to discreetly scan his left hand for a wedding ring. No luck. There were a lot of clothes and gear crowding me in the backseat, but underneath the debris, something caught my eye. Could it be…Oh, please be…Yes! A CAR-SEAT! I inquired about his kids, and yes, he had four of them…and a great wife too. My neck began to relax and I smiled as we drove closer and closer to home…all the while hearing Mr. Family Man tell stories about his kids and his life. He dropped me off at the bus station and I thanked him for making my first hitch-hiking experience in Iceland an enjoyable one (Translation: thank you for not murdering me). He waved and remarked, “Well…there aren’t that many lunatics in Iceland.”

I said good bye to Evelyn, walked back to the apartment, and made it home in time for Colby’s special curry soup.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Glacier Adventure; Part 1

I told Colby last weekend that the only thing I really wanted to do for my birthday was hike on the glacier, Sólheimajökull. I had been on in briefly while the Fauths were here, and it really whet my appetite to go back and spend the day there. Colby thought it was too far to drive (over 2 hours away), and other people warned that it was not safe to do without a guide, so we decided to hike to a natural hot spring instead (that's a story for another blog post). We made a great choice by going there instead, and I was sure that someday I would eventually get a chance to do a glacier hike.

The next day at language school, there was a new girl in our class from Germany. At the end of class she asked me if I wanted to hike Sólheimajökull with her on Saturday because she had already scheduled a trip with a guide (and her roomie from Switzerland). Colby looked at me, smiled, and said, "I'll watch the kids!"

The weather called for 80% chance of rain, so I was in a bad mood this morning as I got up early to wait for my ride. Two hours later, however, God answered my prayer and the clouds broke apart to make for a gorgeous day to hike. The group ended up being around 10 people from 6 different countries with a guide, and we hiked for over three hours on the glacier.

The ride home did not go quite as I had expected. In fact, it reminded me a little bit of a previous experience I had with the Burkes here in Iceland. Stay tuned for the rest of the story...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

NY Times Op-Ed on American Religon and Dan Brown

I read this article this morning by Russ Douthat in the NY times (thanks to a recommendation from Justin Taylor), and found it incredibly insightful about the cultural dynamics at work in the popularity of Dan Brown and his novels. Here's a good quote:

"The polls that show more Americans abandoning organized religion don’t suggest a dramatic uptick in atheism: They reveal the growth of do-it-yourself spirituality, with traditional religion’s dogmas and moral requirements shorn away. The same trend is at work within organized faiths as well, where both liberal and conservative believers often encounter a God who’s too busy validating their particular version of the American Dream to raise a peep about, say, how much money they’re making or how many times they’ve been married."

And another:

"In the Brownian worldview, all religions — even Roman Catholicism — have the potential to be wonderful, so long as we can get over the idea that any one of them might be particularly true. It’s a message perfectly tailored for 21st-century America, where the most important religious trend is neither swelling unbelief nor rising fundamentalism, but the emergence of a generalized “religiousness” detached from the claims of any specific faith tradition."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I'm so glad they finally found the missing link and announced it to all of us today. That lemur-like skeleton was the one thing I was waiting for to demonstrate to me that molecules to man evolution is the way to go. For another is an interesting report from Answers in Genesis.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle of Fun

The parents of my beloved wife have been visiting from WI this week in honor of Mother´s day, Helen´s birthday (tomorrow), and Annie's birthday (Monday). Throughout the week I have been getting back in the flow of learning Icelandic and preparing for a volunteer group coming in a couple of weeks, but as we drew near to the weekend it was time to switch into sight-seeing mode. We headed out to the Blue Lagoon last evening, and enjoyed being "pickled" (Paul Haley's term) for a few hours in the beautiful blue water incomparable to anything else I have ever experienced. One of the highlights of the evening was picking up a female hitch-hiker. We had a good time getting to know a Russian lady that had been living in Iceland for five years and spoke fluent Icelandic. I practiced my Icelandic for the entire 45 minutes and she also interspersed some english for Paul and Helen as we were going. It was good fun and she offered to help us with our Icelandic sometime and wanted our number to get together.
Saturday morning it was out the door to drive the Golden Circle and take in the natural beauty of Kerið, Gullfoss, and Geysir. Although the sights were astounding, one of my highlights of the day was finding out that Helen (Annie´s Mom) had recently tried brushing her teeth with AJAX in hopes that the plaque would not come back so quickly. It was a beautiful day, by far the best weather since we arrived, 62F and Sunny.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thoughts from a discouraged blogger

There are 33,800,000 matches for the phrase I haven't blogged in a long time on google. It was hilarious to read link after link of people's excuses for why they have not been a dutiful blogger. I'll refrain from using the worn-out phrase to state the obvious so that I too do not become a google statistic.

I am a discouraged blogger for many reasons:

1. So many things happen that I want so desperately to creatively capture, archive, and share. I feel farther and farther behind as more and more days go by, each with stories and lessons to write about. I fall into the trap of ALL OR NOTHING, and am paralyzed by the mediocrity.

2.I used to be at home with a computer all to myself. I now have to share the computer with Colby who has legitimate work to do on it all day.

3. I am a perfectionist when it comes to writing my thoughts. It takes time, energy, and creativity that has been low in supply but high in demand lately.

4. Does anyone still read blogs anymore? Maybe this is just a passing fad and there isn't much interest anymore. For example, there seems to be a blog-like feature on facebook and I wonder if that is a better way to keep in touch?

5. Right now, in our apartment, everyone is telling me how I need to blog because it's been so long, but when I sit down to do it, there is too much noise to concentrate! (Yes, I am high-maintenance. I need time, energy, silence, and a full tummy to be at peak blogging performance).

6. I wish I got paid to blog. I've only ever heard rumors about this, but don't know where to begin to look or even if I should.

I know that having a blog in our situation is good for keeping in touch with friends and family, so we will keep trying! Still no word on the VISAs, but my parents are here from WI and we are having fun in the meantime.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

England trip

Top Ten Highlights of our Need-to-get-out-Iceland-because-we can't-be-here-too-long-on-our-passports-England-trip:

10. Traveling with 2 kids, 2 car-seats, one suitcase, and 6 carry-on's through a total of 4 airports and 6 train stations.

9. Discovering that metro stations in London do not have lifts (elevators) and trying to carry all of the above mentioned items up various escalators....Darcy falling down the escalator as Colby and I struggle helplessly to carry all our stuff.

8. Accepting help from a woman who offered to carry some of our bags up the next escalator.... Watching in disbelief as she ignorantly stops at the top of the escalator to explain Colby directions, creating a blockage in the escalator exit...Feeling like I am in a movie as the line I am in continues to back-up and I, with Darcy in stroller, are being pressed together with everyone else in the line...The stroller wheel getting stuck in the escalator and further complicating the problem.

7. Finally arriving at the house we were staying at in Birmingham and discovering cherry-blossoms in full bloom in the back yard. Nearly crying with gratitude...feeling like God was giving me my own personal Cherry Blossom Festival (my favorite thing about living near D.C.).

6. Walking along the old, cobblestone streets of downtown Birmingham beside a canal trail, listening to endless rounds of the new song Haley Jane composed ("There's a rainbow in my eye with the sun...").

5. Making some new friends from our organization and letting them take us to the local attractions (Tamworth Castle, Flower Maze, and Lichfield)

4. Seeing people of every nation and color speaking with a British accent.

3.Seeing the birthplace of Shakespeare and the reaction on Colby's grief-stricken face when I told him I'm really not a fan of Shakespeare....Hearing his reaction: "I wouldn't tell anyone that; It really says more about you than him."

2. Flying to Copenhagen at the end of the week and biking around the city with a free "community bike."

1. Getting on the plane to return to Iceland and feeling at home with the even minutely familiar.