þriðjudagur, janúar 31, 2006

the web cam pt. 2

So before I left for Iceland, I called up Flugfélag Íslands, the domestic airline, and ordered up a round-trip ticket to Ísafjörður. By this time I had figured out that Ísafjörður was the principal town in Iceland's remote West Fjords. Also that its name means "Ice Fjord". And also that by November what was a day's drive in the friendly light of summer could turn positively impossible. Sometimes the roads in the West Fjords were shut for weeks at a time.

But the reactions of my Reykjavík friends upon hearing where I planned to travel told me even more.

"Ísafjörður?" (puzzled face)

"Last time I was there, in the 80s, I was stuck for five days because of snow. They couldn't get an airplane out of there."

"Ísafjörður? Why do you want to go there?"

The thing was, I just had to see the place I had been looking on for so long, in person. So this is what I told them. But there was even more to the story. The part I didn't tell them was that I'd actually made a date with the webcam.

Before leaving the States, I told mom, brother, and girlfriend that at 15:00 GMT (10 a.m. EST, 7 a.m. PST) I would be standing there, down on the stones by the harbor, wearing my dopey bright red "I'm a tourist in Iceland" jacket.

The day came and my friend Heiða took me to the domestic terminal in Reykjavík. Within minutes I was aboard the twin-turboprop Fokker 50 and we were buzzing down the runway. The flight north was breathtaking, with sleepy little Reykjavík out of sight almost immediately, then views straight down the mountainous spine of Snæfellsnes, then the high plateaus and shrieking-steep cliffs of the West Fjords came into view.

Landing in Ísafjörður is something everyone should do once. In order to land the plane on a sea-level airstrip between the towering rock walls of the fjord requires a little maneuvering. We sliced through a mountain pass, the airplane wheels just a few feet above the rock. For a second, I was looking across at a small tree as though I was standing on the hillside next to it. Then we seemed to follow the slope of the mountain down steeply, until we were in the basin of the fjord and the little airstrip was beneath us.

When I came out of the Ísafjörður airport building, there was a ruddy-faced and stoic old man standing in front of a weather-beaten 1980s Toyota minivan. Taped in the window was a sign that said "Fly Bus".

(To be continued...)

2 Comments:

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

Can't wait for the end.......

AS

31.1.06  
Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

fellas - I'm loving the serialization - so engrossing!

hey, my CAPTCHA has SIPB in it - sweet

1.2.06  

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