Photo Highlight: Sea swimming in the fall

sunset today at Nauthólsvík, a perfect evening for seaswimming

sunset today at Nauthólsvík, a perfect evening for seaswimming

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Autumn in Iceland

fall colours and snow-topped mountains

fall colours and snow-topped mountains

It’s always a little bit sad when summer ends. You first start to notice the nights getting dark in the beginning of August, and by the end of August, some mountain tops will already have had their first snow fall. By the middle of September, the valleys have started to bronze and the trees have become fiery shades of red and gold. By the end of September, the leaves have blown all over the place, but bits of green still scream for sun as a few summery days still pop up here and there. It starts to rain more, and every day is literally 9 minutes shorter than the one before, so the nights come noticeably quicker and stay longer every morning. The strange thing about autumn is that it’s probably the most beautiful season, but one can hardly call it a season since its over as soon as it begins; after 4 months of summer come 8 months of looming winter and noone really knows where the fall went or remembers anything about it until next fall. You can’t really pinpoint when summer and winter meet to make the autumn, but at some point it feels like you fell asleep on a summer night and woke up on a winter morning.

herding sheep through the snow

herding sheep through the snow

After the horse season ended, I went back to the east to chase sheep in the annual round up ´réttir´. However, after an early snow storm and some other uncooperative weather, it became more like a hide-and-seek sheep-search instead of a chase; they were much harder to see in the melting snow, and a bunch of sheep were dug up from their soon-to-be snow-graves. We couldn’t even do the sheep round up on horse back, as is custom because Fljótsdalshérað is such a huge area, but instead of taking 3-4 riding days, we had to use snowmobiles, 6-wheelers, a bunch of dogs, our own feet and some walking sticks to cover the area. There are still some hundreds of sheep missing, so the round up goes on, weather permitting.

Mjölnir

Mjölnir

I went east this weekend to collect a horse. Not just any horse, but my horse, my first and only Icelandic horse I can call my own. It was given to me over a drunken conversation on the last night of the sheep round up by a nice farmer named Magnus. We didn´t discuss many details, but he held true to his word and I showed up with a horse trailer and took him without any further questions. I only recently found out he´s a 6 year old, 5 gaited horse from Kollaleira, which has some very good horses and I can´t believe the luck I stumbled upon to just have him. If I had searched far and wide across Iceland for my perfect horse, and could spend a pretty penny on one, this is probably the exact horse I would have chosen.

The wedding couple and my mom

The wedding couple and my mom

My aunty got remarried in September, and my mother came for the wedding since she´s her sister. My Aunty Myrtle has lived in Iceland for more than 30 years and blends in alot better than my mom who showed up with her dark skin and Chinese features wearing a sparkling Indian sari to the ceremony in Laugafellskirkja. It was a wonderful wedding, probably the happiest wedding I´ve ever been to, but every wedding you go to seems to be a perfect day so its hard to say if it was really the best  wedding ever… but still, close.

an autumn sunset

an autumn sunset

The sunsets seem to get brighter and more beautiful as fall draws to a close, with red and purple skies flaring up earlier each evening. I´ve spotted my first northern lights already and look forward to seeing more and more in the star-studded sky I had almost forgotten about. This fall has gone by particularly quickly. The days of smelling like horse and spending more days in the mountains than civilization just ended abruptly, and I was thrown back to the life’s reality in Reykjavik where reverse culture shock and my unfinished masters thesis awaited. I escaped back to the countryside a few times in September, once to chase sheep, once to collect Mj0lnir, and the other time to ride horses and eat reindeer lasagne in Hvanneyri. There I was reminded yet again why autumn is such a beautiful time of year, since the dark skies and falling rain can create so many, spectacular rainbows and I probably saw twelve in one day that weekend.

so many rainbows

so many rainbows

Rendezvous in Germany & London

disembarking in DUS

disembarking in DUS

I haven’t left the country since May, which is a really long time by my standards, so I was itching to go somewhere but only had a week off between horse guiding and chasing sheep. Its hard to get very far from Keflavik if you dont have a lot of time or money, but London, Germany and somewhere in Scandinavia is always worth a brief visit. Air Berlin and German Wings are now flying direct from Keflavik to Germany, finally offering some competition to Wow Air or changing it up from always flying Icelandair. I booked to Dusseldorf for some €180, which I happily paid just to avoid going through London, and arrived to an airport full of beer-drinking Germans. It was just before midnight and I was still in Iceland, but I would have never been able to tell the difference when I was boarding or on the plane. The sound of duty-free beer cans snapping open all around me and that incomprehensible German language made me feel like I had already arrived.

sitting beside the Rhine

sitting beside the Rhine

I landed at 6am in Dusseldorf, and saw the sun rise on the runway behind jets taxing to and fro. The sun continued to rise as I made my way to the train station and into Dusseldorf city center. It was much smaller than I expected, so without any time stress, I managed to sit in a sunny, green park and nap off the red-eye flight jetlag. That afternoon I met my beautiful friend Stefan, who walked me through the old center and sheltered me from a pouring, thundering rain storm.

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Ritter Sport chocolate steps

I was going to Cologne to meet one of my best friends from UBC and California days, Mr. Mike Reiter who always inspires me to take pictures. We spent 3 days in Cologne drinking 2cl beers, eating Ritter Sport chocolate, cruising the Rhine (on foot and boat) and finally taking photographs of the Koln Hauptbahnhof and the empty streets on Sunday night.

I tried (and failed) to fly from Cologne to London with Mike as planned. At some point between checking out of the hotel and checking into my flight I lost my passport, or maybe it was stolen, who´s to blame, but didnt realize til my bag had been ripped apart infront of the immigration police who wouldn´t let me board my flight. Eventually the Easyjet flight left without me, and I left the airport lost and lonely at 10pm. Luckily Stefan could shelter me again, and I figured out there was an Icelandic consulate in Koln (!!!!) which was only open 9-12 on Tues – Thurs, so some 12 hours later I had an emergency passport and flew to London (for another €180).

me and mike

me and mike

London was lovely, yet grey and rainy as expected. Me and Mike stayed near Oxford Circus, which was miraculously always less than 4 metro stops on one line from anywhere I needed to go. I met my Guyanese cousins for dinner, an old school mate from Iceland for coffee, and even a guy I met in Egypt 6 years ago who I hadn´t seen since but it was his first day off work in months and we could hang out all day. It was so inspiring to see him again, now speaking fluent English and boasting about how much he loved his life in Europe, and he didn´t look a day older or like any other Londoner who seems to have the life sucked slowly out of them as the days go on.

My last order of business in London was to finally get my Guyanese passport, which seemed hopeless after having not enough passport photos, or the wrong size, or losing a day to the Icelandic consulate. But, after one lost passport in Germany, the weights of Karma balanced everything out and I came home with a new passport from London, and I can finally call myself a Guyanese citizen now 🙂