July 15, 2006
Hope you all are doing well and enjoying the summer. Sorry for the long delay in emails, my time online has been kept short due to logistics and financial constraints, but I’m working on it. I finally stopped wearing my thermal underwear this week! Could’ve used it some days, but as long as I kept digging and carrying rocks, I stayed warm enough. We’ve had rain and more rain, wild winds, and lots of mud, which makes work cold and clammy and sometimes unpleasant.
Thursday evening I had an exciting night due to the wind- I never knew a tent could buckle, sway, shudder, twist, snap, and strain so much without giving out. It kept me awake for several hours, not only the booming noise of the above mentioned deformations, but also the rather unsettling feeling of the floor lifting beneath me, if only momentarily. (Maybe I shouldn’t have used those old socks as tent pegs…) I had some Wizard of Oz imagery going as well, the scene with Dorothy’s house whirling through the tornado as she watches helpless from her tent vestibule, er, window. We had a small hut where I considered taking shelter, but I wasn’t sure that my tent would still be there in the morning without me as ballast. There I was, half in my tent, half out, looking for the tent pegs that had been pulled out by a gust and trying to keep my tent from rolling down into the ravine, from about 3:30 a.m. until it was time to go dig some drainage ditches. I’m sure it was all quite comical, and at times I did just have to laugh out loud to myself, but it made for a long day of work yesterday. There’s no place like home, but rigid building materials are also nice.
But about my subject line. Funny thing about British English… it’s not quite the same as what I speak, and when you throw in an Australian, a German, some Swedes, some French, a Spanish girl, some Icelandic folks, and the Scottish contingent, it all gets quite muddled. When I say pants, they hear underwear, so me saying “Oh man, I got my pants all muddy” cracks them up. When they say jumper, they mean sweater, so when a big burly guy is asking if anyone’s seen his red jumper, I dissolve into giggles. But the Versatility Prize goes to the word “wee”. It can be an adjective, meaning little- “I haven’t heard that song since I was wee!” It can be a verb, meaning to urinate- “Fiona’s gone off to wee in the woods.” And it can also be a noun, meaning a bathroom break- “If I could have a cup of Swiss Miss and a wee, I’d be the happiest person alive!” They say tinned to-MAH-toes, I say canned to-MAY-toes, but it all works out in the end.
About the photos I’ve attached- we have a nice photo of a valley in the Eastern Fjords, taken during my week of exploration with my parents. There’s also a shot from Jökulsárlon, aka Iceberg Lake, where a glacial tongue calves into a lagoon which eventually leads out to sea. And there’s also a photo of the town Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest city with something like 17,000 people. Or I may have grabbed the wrong photos in my haste, and then it’s anyone’s guess… but it’s something cool in Iceland.
This week I’m tentatively scheduled to go on a four-day hike through the interior to mark the Old Kjölur trail with waymarking sticks. The whole walk is about 40 km, with four rustic mountain huts along the way so that I (and my two walking partners) don’t have to carry our tents and can instead carry food, water, lots of sticks and a big hammer. I’m very excited, although I’ll be more excited if the weather takes a turn and we see the sun for a while.
Best wishes to all, and goða ferð (good journey)!