“We’re gonna die!”, shouts the child a few rows ahead of me. Our flight to Iceland has hit a minor bit of turbulance. Everyone on the flight seems to laugh it off, but I’m not one to doubt a child’s instincts. I order another mini-bottle of wine from the first flight attendant that walks by. What have I got to lose? It’s borrowed time according to the afore-mentioned child.
The air blows cold and crisp against my tired face. (Though, I’m not going to get into any jokes about “Ice”land…) In reality, the sun is shining and having not perished on the commute, I am feeling quite refreshed. Now what?
Heading towards the Golden Circle, Reggie’s advice rings clear: “Safety First”! From the south shore we drive into the Golden Circle, which is made up of three of the biggest tourist draws. 1. The National park “Pingvlleir”; 2. The hot spring “Geysir”; and, 3. “Gullfoss”, the golden waterfall.
Pingvellir is the sight where two tectonic plates have drifted apart. It is also the sight where the world’s oldest parliament was founded in 930. Iceland is located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge dividing the European and American Continental plates, slowly pushing the two in separate directions. It really makes me wish that I had paid more attention to my professor in the compulsory science course (affectionately referred to by the poli-sci students as) “Rocks for Jocks”. According to my guide book, the ridge runs through the whole country, resulting in volcanic eruptions, geothermal activity such as geysers and hot springs, as well as occasional earthquakes.
The jagged rocks rise high above the gorge from both sides. I spot some tourists posing with their hands stretched out to the side in a valiant effort to appear as though they are holding each of the walls in place. I do the same hoping in vane that I will appear as the one who brought this miraculous geological site into existence. But, my left hand gives me away as it is lifted a little too high. Instead I look like I’m making airplane wings; nothing more.
Further on down the path I keep my eyes on the ground as large crevasses run deep through the broken volcanic land. Falling down one of them would not be a good start to this journey. The path is covered by igneous rock. When the lava or hot magma covered the area, it pooled and solidified into ripple-like patterns giving each rock face its own fingerprint. The volcanic rocks that are found along the path are very porous and seem to defy gravity as they bounce down the side of the hill. The petals on the bushes come alive and float upwards when I brush by them. Upon further inspection, they are actually hundreds of little butterflies that briefly join me on my trek like large snowflakes before ornamenting the next bush.
It is said that fifty percent of Icelanders believe in fairies. On this walk, I am surprised at there being only half the population of believers. How could one pose doubts? There is a beauty and energy here that has made me believe.