They say that Iceland southern coast is the wettest part of the country.
Although it could be another common feature with my Hibernia, I would kindly disagree as I reckon no place in Europe can be possibly wetter than my Munster. With these meteorological thougths in mind, I jumped into my flashing jeep (still going through a mystic crisis after our little incident with The Rock – see Moon Land: Iceland part 1) and I decided to drive on this geographical line, dotted with dramatic views of glaciers, mountains and seas, which come here to discuss and often argue.
After leaving Reykjavík, and pass Selfoss, Mount Hekla is there, waiting for you. Its frequently shrouded cone provides a very clear idea of his terrible nature as it is clearly not keen on the location the tectonic plates pushed it to arise. Since 1970, it erupted every 10 years, wiping out all those annoying farming lands in a fairly undiplomatic way.
The second encounter is with Vík í Mýrdal which isn’t the name of a famous Icelandic starlette. At first you debate over whether you are uncertain, or uneasy as all those little yellow smileys, surrounding you every where you go in this coastal village, could easily be the local serial killer’s signature. Then you talk to Fjalar, o Bryndís, and you realise that they are there to try to counter for its reputation as the rainiest place in Iceland. Could this be a solution to implement in other geographies, where, in order to forget extreme weather behaviour, people engage in olympic drinking sessions?
Vík í Mýrdal is well know for the Reynisdrangar: these basalt steeples rise out of the sea, and there while I was walking on the black beach that lies in front of them, I felt this feeling of other-worldliness, where dragons, and puffins argue about politics, and fairies try to calm them down by serving them rain drops. The legend and myth of the rocks as told was that there were three trolls namely: Skessudrangur, Laddrangur and Langhamar who were pulling a three masted ship into the shore, but they were caught at dawn by sunlight and turned into rocks. In such a place, time is suspended, and nothing moves, balanced at last.
Then I arrived to Lakagígar, where nothing was balanced and in peace for decades. At the end of the 18th century, rivers of fire ran here, and they were consequences of pitiless volcanic eruptions that lasted for 10 months, and became soon the largest recorded in the world as the lava produced was the equivalent to 12 cubic kilometers. Life was annihilated, and the only sign these satanic rivers left behind were some 100 craters extending for 25 kilometers. The surrounding lava field is dotted with caves and other dreamlike lava formations. It took me up to 7 hours to see a very small portion of this chimerical place, but while I was there, the words spoken by the Paduan farmer in “Cinquecento” by Baricco resounded truthful and passionate. Nature’s voice is more than a gigantic cry, and it shouts out that life is immense, and only when you hear it say it you know exactly what you want to do to live. I knew, then, that living equals travelling, and seeing, and getting there, where I haven’t arrived yet.
My last destination on my faithful and brave jeep was Vatnajökull, the biggest ice-cap in Europe. The average thickness of the ice is 400 meters, with a maximum of 1000m, and these titanic walls are sitting over underground volcanoes, which, when you least expect it, they blow everything up in a jökulhlaup, a sort of babylonic seismic up-a-daisy. In 1996, one of these herculean tectonic moves created a fissure 4 kilometers long, through which a 10-km column of steam rose above the ice. The ice dam broke, and huge surge of water burst forth, destroying bridges, roads, villages, cows, everything.
I spent my last Icelandic afternoon in a huge bath, outside. Bláa lónið, or Blue Lagoon, besides being the title of Randal Kleiser’s movie shot in 1980, is also the world’s greatest outdoor bath of seawater naturally heated by the geothermical activity below the surface. You put you swimming suit on, and you are ready to lounge around there, with wam mud oozing between your toes in wonderfully warm water temperatures of 36°C.The mixture of salts, silica and blue-green algae is said to cleanse and soften the skin, and leads you directly to the Paradise door. This is my last memory of Iceland, a gleaming sunset, in those waters, thoughtless and silky smooth.