What lockdown & social distancing has taught me

It´s been fascinating to watch time really slow down, the world pass by in slow motion, and winter turn into summer virtually overnight. In Iceland, the first day of summer was officially last week, and the Arctic Turns are back to prove it. They migrate all the way from Antarctica every year, the longest migratory pattern of any bird, and are here to breed. The grass turned green so quickly I think the naked eye could actually see the new blades growing the first time the sun shone with heat.

I´ve been home more nights these last 6 weeks than I have ever been (in total) in my own apartment. It has taught me how to nest, and that I like nesting, and I´m not such a bad homebody. I´ve been cleaning, decorating and burrowing deeper into my own home than I´ve ever done, anywhere. Last time I remember doing anything like this was for my first year of collage in a 9sq.m dorm room to try and look cool to the others in my dormatory. I sometimes get bored at home alone, so I end up doing things I can´t imagine I actually thought of doing. One day I turned my shower on hot enough to turn the whole bathroom into a steam room (the public pools have all been closed in Iceland for way too long). Another day I scratched mold of my window sills. I set up fairy lights by my desk and added dirt to my cactus flower pots. Its

I finished a book I´ve been carrying in my backpack for more than 2 years, only to learn that the Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck is not an uplifting author to read in times of depression. I paint my toes a different colour each week, and consider painting my fingernails to match but never did. I´ve been practicing the piano, and finally learned how to freestyle on a blues scale. I tuned two friends pianos, and realised its actually not that hard or laboursome to tune your own piano. I watched a movie, from a dvd, turning my tv and dvd player on for the first time ever. I watched 4 more dvd´s since, and one of those movie nights turned into a sleep-over pyjama party with 4 other friends from the neighbourhood.

One of the stupider things I learned was not to buy a scratch world map after traveling to more than 200 countries. I actually sustained an injury on my thumb trying to scratch most of the map away and had to spread it out over 5 days, and never finished Russia or Antarctica. I guess its a good thing… to have somethings left to do in unemployment. Let me know if anyone needs a virtual tour guide or travel writer this summer, I´m available! I´m also accepting donations to fund a 300 hr yoga teacher training online course if people just want to pay me to not work 😉

Stay healthy and happy out there, lots of peace and love to you all.

Its nice to be home

Beautiful Dalvik, in Eyjafjordur

I´m back in Iceland, as it turns out, year after year, this at least stays the same. Iceland is wonderful for Christmas and New Years, but otherwise, May to September, what some could call spring, summer and fall, (or rather, ´not-winter´), are wonderful months, where I always feel like I’m at home. The smell of fresh, clean air and drinking ice cold water out of the tap that tastes like nothing are always two of my favourite things to do the moment I land. Within a few hours after that, I’ve found some natural hot pot or public swimming pool with steaming water to soak my tired bones.

Grettislaug, in Skagafjordur

No return home would be complete without a drunken party with my old Norse friends, a roadtrip to some remote, northern part of Iceland, visiting my horses, and pretending to be young and hip down Laugavegur downtown. In two weeks, Ive checked all of those boxes (some twice), but the horse situation is getting complicated and being ´home´, which is now my dad´s house, has been a little lonely.

Into the Glacier!

But, staying in the same place for more than 2 nights in a row is quite the anomaly anyway, so I’ve already spent half my time traveling around Iceland with friends. A friend of New York was in town and we went north to Skagafjordur. My best friend wanted to celebrate his birthday in one of Icelands boutique countryside hotels in Husafell so we did that, just after visiting Langjokull glacier with a Venezuelan photographer friend. I had a crazy horse in the north I had to ´deal´with (don´t worry, he´s still alive), and two horses I tried to ride home from Borgafjordur. We got more than half way, but then it started to get cold again and dad had to go to the hospital.

my Icelandic father, brother, and nephew

Now my horses are home, but not dad, but both my sisters will be visiting soon. Its weird to feel so much at home and be the only one at home (dads house is kind of out in the countryside of Reykjavik), and even weirder to have all this free time where I’m not traveling or moving or planning anything.

my horses at home

Needless to say, Ive gotten some rest and expanded my livelihood beyond the limits of my backpack, but of course theres already another trip in the works. Before my horse riding guiding season in Iceland starts, I figure I´ll have to get get my butt in saddle shape somewhere before. Anyone else want to come to Kyrgyzstan in June?

fun with Steve in Haugsnes

Home Sweet Home

Its wonderful to come home after months of traveling. Not only have I been away from home, but also homeless, in a sense of the word. On the road I’m constantly seeking out accommodation, either as the guest at someone else’s home, or the couchsurfer on some strangers couch. Not that I’m complaining… but its nice to finally be home again.

the natural geothermal area of Kyrsuvik

the natural geothermal area of Kyrsuvik

being a tourist at Gullfoss

being a tourist at Gullfoss

At the moment ‘home’ is Dad’s house, in the ‘countryside’ (this has a better ring to it in Icelandic). My bed is actually a couch there, but its my couch so I love sleeping on it. I missed drinking tap water, ice cold straight from the source, and showering in hot water that kind of smells like rotten eggs. But its okay because its smells like home.

I love bathing in open air, in an assortment of pools and hottubs, even the ice-cold sea, because there’s never a steam room or hot shower too far away. The wind on my wet skin and ice under my toes doesn’t even bother me after I’ve stayed long enough in the hottest hottub, and sometimes I purposely dip in the cold tub or sea just to remember how much more I love the heat.

Iceland is still one of my favourite countries to travel, especially impromptu road trips

Iceland is still one of my favourite countries to travel, especially impromptu road trips

The sun doesn’t rise until after 11 am and sets around 3 pm… and the days have gotten shorter every day. Tomorrow will be the shortest day of the year, but I don’t mind, because that means every day after that until June 21 will be longer. Its cold, but not that cold, so I was happy to clean the snow off my car yesterday for the first time – it might mean that we’ll have a white Christmas, even though every day last week was warmer than in London, New York or Vancouver.

some random, friendly horses

some random, friendly horses

I’ve been home nearly a week now, and the only thing I’m still missing are the Northern Lights and my horses. Both are within reach, so I don’t feel homesick anymore, but it’s amazing how you can’t get enough of home even when you’re finally home. Oh home, sweet home.

Home Sweet Home

Home is a strange concept, because where I identify as home sort of differs as time goes on. My cousin always says home is wherever I’m with you, which I guess means home is where family and friends are, but I’ve got family and friends in a couple of places.

Although Iceland’s the birthland and my permament address these days, some would argue BC is home since I grew up half my life with my mom in Chilliwack. And boy is it good to be home when I go visit Mom’s place. Its the coziest house on an 11-acre farm with horses, cats and dogs running around. The cat is a fat, flirty calico named Kitty, we have an old Lassie thats so fat and hairy and not so pretty at the moment since we have to shave her in the summer, and a beautiful, all-white Italian sheep dog that won’t trust anyone to pet her unless you play with her every day. There’s no way she remembers me, so it always takes days before I can actually cuddle her, and the surrender only happens when she gets too jealous with my petting Sheebah or Kitty.

One morning the dogs were barking at something unimportant like a passing car, but then an unfamiliar, high-pitched yelp kept creeping between. It was a cold, rainy day, and by evening when we finally looked outside for the culprit, a very groomed, harilesss purse dog sat shivering behind the hottub. She’s probably worth a lot of money, since she looks like one of those pocket, accessory dogs, but damn is she mangy. Its strange how dogs can be cute and ugly simultaneously, but this one managed to get in our house and is now Mom’s best friend til we find her original owner.

surprisingly ugly, right? Update: 3 days later we found her owner

The best part about being home is always Mom’s cooking. She’s owned restaurants and bakeries for so long that our home kitchen is stocked ready to feed an army even though she lives alone. Sometimes my grandma visits and they both get so much pleasure in cooking that they can’t even keep up with eating to eat all the delicious concoctions that they make. I’ve been eating like a queen since I got home, but it’s always a bit of a risk eating some of the complicated curries my moms make – you can never quite identify the meat, and after growing up being told duck was chicken and regularly finding chicken feet in the pot, I wasn’t surprised that I almost ate fish head curry tonight when searching for crab curry in the depths of the fridge.

There’s No Place Like Home

You know how they say you can never truly appreciate something until you lose it? Well, its kind of like that with home when your away from home. Its probably just a psychological thing, but the further away I am from home, in geographical distance, the more homesick I feel just because of the physical separation. Then, depending on where I am, sometimes I get more or less homesick depending on how close to home the place resembles. For example, in Copenhagen, you don´t really miss Iceland that much since things are still familiar, or when you’re in any North American city, it still runs and functions the same way as most other major North American cities. But, if you’re in the middle of Burma, out of touch with phone lines, internet, and the regular commodities like clean running water or flushing toilets, home seems soooo much further away! The more difference a culture has to what you’re used to makes homesickness worse, and makes you appreciate home that much more when you return.

downtown Vancouver, the ocean and the mountains; where else can you have all that in one place?

It´s been so nice to come home to Vancouver after living out of a bag for 3 months with no sense of home or locality anywhere! Stuck in transit between Montreal, New York, Mexico and roadtrips in between has made the comforts of home priceless to me. The familiarity of people and places instantly gives me a sense of belonging, and knowing where to eat, where to go out, and how to navigate the streets and public transport just makes the city feel like the back of my hand again. Meeting up with good friends seems like absolutely no time has passed apart, and these are the same friends I’ve been dying to see for so long, and now they’re only a phone call away! What luxury 🙂 As for my family, home cooked food is another amazing luxury, and I can not seem to get my fill of mom and grandma’s cooking. Its nice not to carry my life on my back, not worry about getting lost or missing a flight, and especially nice to sleep in my own bed.

But now I have this strange identity dilemma where I don´t know if Im rightfully homesick for British Columbia or Iceland, (or both) but now Ive found that as soon as I satisfy a homesick feeling for Vancouver, I start to miss Iceland!  I want Icelandic hot dogs, nightlife that lasts all night, long days and stinky, hot showers. It’s certainly confusing and annoying… but I guess having two places to go home to isn´t all that bad 😛