Poppets, lovelies and dear ones,
Two blogs in one day- what on earth is going on you may ask?! It’s amazing what I can do when I put my mind to it. And when I am procrastinating with my packing! Here we go again…
May was a strange disjointed month booked ended by trips to Reykjavik. It begun with an early start on the bus to Egilsstaðir with Emander (01.05.17). We picked up our car and set out for the south road- the same as I had the previous month with Una. We made similar stops, and I was even lucky enough to see my first (and apparently the only time during this trip..!) seal- against the specatular backdrop of Jökulsárlón glacial lake. It was once again a long and spectacular journey. The highlight of which was the waterfalls, which went up. It was so windy they were blown up into the sky like tornados. Seriously- google it! It was very cool.
We were staying in Sandgerði near Keflavik for the night as Emander needed to make a little detour out of the country for a few days. I dropped her off at early on Tuesday (02.05.17) morning and headed into the city to prepare for my interview. I was feeling rather grotty, and after a drenching in Hafnarfjörður and the drive into Reykjavik I promptly fell asleep in the car outside my hostel. Sensing there was probably something wrong with me, and with a definite fever, I checked in (thankfully once again being upgraded to a private room- thank you Hostel Village!), got warm and dry and fell asleep. This definitely did not bode well for my interview!!
Waking the next day (03.05.17) and dosing up on as much medication as I could get my hands on, I set about prepping. Before the trip I had had to accept that I would have to make do and choose from the clothes I had with me – most of which were practical and warm and not terribly interviewy- but thanks the new jumper Mum had brought over, and my fairly jazzy Aspics trainers I didn’t feel too bad. A little sad I didn’t have a pair of DMs or Converse but I’d do! It is amazing how the adrenaline kicks in- and despite feeling ropey I temporarily I was ok. I set of for my interview a little nervous but as prepared as I could be. I bumped into a couple of familiar faces from when I had visited the previous month, which was reassuring, and I had a coffee and waited to be called.
I hadn’t had a interview like it for a while- I was faced with a panel of five. All very friendly and engaging- but it was still a little intimidating. But once I settled in I felt like I was doing my best- I even made a few little jokes and made them laugh with my attempts at Icelandic! Over all I felt like I got across my passion and commitment to my practice and now it was a case of whether they felt I was the right fit. It was out of my hands.
Back at the hostel I once again crashed out, exhausted and relived. And after another good sleep- as quickly as it had come on, I was better. I had part of the day in Reykjavik before it was time to collect Emander. I made the most of feeling better and the gorgeous sunshine by heading out into town- I didn’t even really need a jacket! Perusing the bookshops and bakeries and then meeting Gígja- a new friend I’d met through Brynja for coffee. It was lovely to feel like I was beginning to create a network and establishing new friendships- if I did get a place on the course it was nice to know I’d have a few friendly faces to meet up with in August 🙂
After a few days solo it was time to pick up Emander and begin a little road trip. We headed out of the city and spent the night in Fossatún. It was beautiful evening and we enjoyed a walk amongst the trolls, before a soak in the hot tub and picnicking whilst watching the sun set.
The next day we drove around the Snæfellsnes peninsula- not seeing a great deal due to the mists that had descended but making stop a stop in Helena. The rock formations were incredibly beautiful- and I so wanted to take some of the huge stones away- even though I knew it couldn’t.
Our next stop was Stykkishólmur, where we visited the Roni Horn installation Vatnasafn/ The Library of Water- which had been on my list to visit. It was well worth the stop. A room filled with 24 glass columns containing water collected from ice from the major glaciers around Iceland- the light refracted and distorted as we slowly walked around. Disorientating and beautiful- I was very glad to have made this special trip. I got some really interesting little videos that unfortunately I can’t upload on here.
That night we headed further towards Akureryi and stopped at a natural hot pool called Grettislaug, near Saudarkrokur. Like many things in Iceland, it is there if you know where to find it. After an unsettlingly long drive down a gravel track, some stops to guide horses out of the road and almost ready to turn back we found it. It was beautiful and calm- and worth the stress of finding it!
The next day we packed it in. We had breakfast in Akureyri, a drive Ásbyrgi and a completely silent walk through the forrest (looking very different to my last snow covered trip here) just taking in the sounds of the birds, a picnic in Husavík, scaled a volcano near lake Myvatn, visited a hot pool in a cave (apparently too hot to swim in- but definitely featured in a very steamy scene in Game of Thrones), feared and fixed a flat tire, and drove back to Egilsstaðir- where I experienced a four onion hotdog (White, red, crispy AND potato salad. Oh yes!). Not a bad day!
We stopped near Lagarfljót and having slept two nights in the car, by the next morning I was itching to get back to Stöðvarfjördur. Emander dropped me off and it was lovely to be home after an exciting, but somewhat hectic week.
Once back in the fjord it was a slightly disjointed time- Una and Rosa were away for the beginning of the month; one artist, Mara (from Italy) had spent the week in the studio alone having arrived just after Emander and I had left; the next artist Cara (from the USA) arrived during the second week of the month; and the last resident Katie (also from the USA) did not arrive until the third week. It was hard to establish the dynamic as a whole group with absences and late arrivals, but we did have fun and it was a good time for my work as I was trying to tie things up.
On the day Una and Rosa returned (10.05.17) and earlier than expected I heard from the school. I had to read the email over and over- and despite it being in English I still had to get Una to check. I had a place. So my journey in Iceland would continue! I couldn’t quite believe it…and even over a month on, still can’t really!
Other than work, other notable highlights of the month included a Eurovision pizza party (complete with projector), the opening of the pool (so daily hotpotting!), a trip to a farm to watch the lambs being born with Jón the fish man, and a couple of really great hikes. One involved scrambling up the side of a mountain with Cara, to collect stones and seeing reindeer; and the other was a spectacular hike to a huge rock called Einbúi with Nisa, Mara, Cara and Jonathan.
Towards the end of the month Una advised me that I should sort out my living situation in Reykjavik ASAP. I started to look online and soon realised this may be trickier than I had anticipated. Like many cities, Reykjavik is overrun with Air B’n’B. Whilst wonderfully convenient for tourists- and a great money maker for property owners- it makes it very difficult for renting- especially for students. The prices were extortionate- and it was looking perhaps I might even have to share a room…which I hadn’t done since I was 12- and that was with my sister. So at the age of 30 I was not relishing the thought of having to share with a stranger- and to pay through the nose for it!!
Una once again came to my rescue- after a plea for help on her Facebook I had had several responses and she was encouraging me to go to Reykjavik for a couple of days to get it sorted. I booked my flight for the next day and got about organising a sofa to crash on. I was booked on to the morning flight (25.05.17) so I would have the whole day. Having discussed it with Jonathan I had brazenly decided to hitchhike to Egilsstaðir, over getting the bus. I would be leaving around the time that people go to work, so I didnt anticipate much difficulty. I left at 6.45am, my flight leaving at 9.50am, so plenty of time. Rather than staying in one place, I always walk a little when I’m hitchhiking- listening for the cars and stopping when I hear them so I headed out of the village. After an hour not one car had passed, and I was a long way out. I contained and after 2 hours, only 2 cars had passed, neither stopping and I realised something was up. Sending some panicked messages to a very apologetic Jonathan I finally pulled myself together and decided to call the airline. I was able to change my flight (for a small fee) and after I’d made the decision I felt ok. I continued walking- I had passed the sea Geysir, I walked passed Jonathan and Yasser’s ghost town, and was well on my way to Fáskrúðsfjörður, when after 3 hours, a lovely Israeli couple stopped to pick me up. I think they were surprised at my level of good cheer despite my situation- and although originally they were only going as far as Fáskrúðsfjörður- they appeared to enjoy my company so much (!) that they took me all the way to Egilsstaðir!
I had some time to kill now, so I went to the pool, remembering I had some free tickets from Brynja. The sun shone and I had a picnic before heading to the airport. I let the lady whose flat I was meant to be viewing that afternoon that I would be late, what flight I was now on and explained that I would let her know when I got in, as I planned to walk to the flat from the airport. So I was surprised that on my arrival at Reykjavik Domestic and switching my phone back on to receive a message saying “I’m here. In the green car.” I found Magnea and we embraced like old friends- she took me to the flat and we seemed tp hit it off straight away. She informed me that it was a public holiday- and that’s why there wouldn’t have been anybody going to work. So I noted for all future flights that I should probably check these things beforehand!! After a brief look at the room and a coffee she asked me if I would like to go on an off-road jeep adventure?! Sure ,I said. And off we went.
Pierre, who’s room I would potentially be taking was heading back to Keflavik so I tagged along for the ride. On the way we visited sulphur pits, off-roaded in the lava fields, and Magnea told us all about the geology of each area. It was brilliant. We dropped Pierre at the airport and I was invited to dinner, a chance to get to know each other and then for more off roading. We went around a geopark which had sculptures of all the planets- each proportioned and distanced accurately. I jumped out of the car and shouted the name of the planet back to Magnea every time I spotted one. We didn’t get back until 1am and thankfully she said I could stay. As Magnea said- it had been a “Þetta reddast” kind of a day- and it certainly had all come out right- better than right- in the end!
Magnea left me a key and told me to leave my stuff and come and go as I pleased. I wanted to get a feel for the area, and also to see how long it would take to walk in to town. The location was great- 50 meters from the art school building, and 50 meters from Laugardalslaug- a really great pool! It took half an hour to walk to town and it was nice to have a little time in the city. Back at the flat I had coffee with Magnea and said I would like to take the room if she would have me. She agreed and I felt very pleased and extremely lucky to have found a place that I knew I could feel at home. I met one of my new housemates Hannah, also from the UK- and strangely, it turned out we had both been to the same art school and even had a few people in common. “Destiny” Magnea announced. And she very kindly drove me back to the airport. It has been such a wonderful whirlwind!
I hitchhiked back to Stöðvarfjördur, much simpler than the previous days journey and I had three lifts, one fjords at a time, with three lovely drivers. I still can’t get over the simple and brilliant answer thats comes when I say thank you. “No problem. We were going the same way.”
I already began to feel like I was mentally checking out and preparing for my move. I knew it would be hard after four months, but I was prepared for just how hard. I had a few days left to finish my project (with some help from Mara, Nisa and Jonathan), have my interview (which you can see here) and before I knew it, it was time for the usual monthly goodbyes- and this time I was the one leaving.
I would once again like to thank everyone at the Fish Factory Creative Centre, the wonderful community in Stöðvarfjördur, and all the artists I lived and worked with.
All aboard the blog train- next stop June!
Much love and TTFN