mánudagur, nóvember 13, 2006

vestmannaeyjar 1

It was dark and the wind was whistling out on the balcony on Saturday when I woke up and called our band director Lárus. "Yep, we're going," he confirmed, and so we met at his house and took a taxi out to the Esso station in Árbær where we met up with a bunch more stoic and sweater-clad Icelanders in a minibus. Coffees were passed around, as was Morgunblaðið, and my new friend Runólfur and I discussed etymology as we came over the heiði and down past Hveragerði and into Selfoss.

It was in Selfoss that we waited, at another Esso station and its companion video store, for the fly/sail decision. We sipped more coffee, talked some more, and I listened to a long diatribe from our driver about how immigrants were ruining the country. Then we were first in line, shivering outside the glass doors of Ríkið and watching as the old Selfosslandic woman inside painstakingly worked the keys to the treasure and unlocked the place promptly at 11 a.m. It was time to stock up on booze and we made quick work of it. Then the word came mysteriously through the pipe that Herjólfur the ferry was sailing, so no quick-hop flight for us. We drove across the endless tidal flats to Þorlákshöfn and after some wrangling over tickets, refunds, on-board cabins, and cars not going on the boat, we boarded.

I wolfed down a juicy Herjólfsborgari with the cronies in the cafeteria and then Lárus and I went down to our cabin. The ferry ride is close to 3 hours in length and the announcer had warned in Icelandic of seas that were a little brisk (though he mentioned nothing of this in the English that followed, presumably to keep up the image of Icelanders as so tough that they would never notice something like a choppy sea) so I was glad to get in the cozy bunk and let the boat rock me to sleep.

It's part of the magic of the Westman Islands for me that every time I have gone there it's been a solid sea-sleep on the way and when the "10 minutes to docking" announcement wakes me it's with the sheer cliffs of the harbor gliding by outside the ferry's windows. It comes with a little bit of disorientation, a feeling of waking up in a never-never land.

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