December 26, 2016

#51 - Off to India - Part 1

Dear Dubrovnik,

India proved to be a spectacular trip that I won't soon forget! First time I've ever had such an extensive trip with no internet opportunities to add to my blog! Though I'd be lying if  I said I didn't love every moment of this, because I enjoyed getting to be in the moment, committed to the courageous kiddos and wonderful women and men I met during my travels through India! The time change is certainly rough going West, and I've been rising at 4am but have taken to reading, or going to gym before work to not just lay in bed any longer.

Before going on, I feel I must give some context as to how I ended up going to India - as I was not initially a part of the original plan for this trip, which was to reunite past service trips through Champlain. Although I felt 100% welcomed and part of the group, it was originally just going to reconnect those folks who'd gone on service trips through their undergrad with either the Center for Service, or a Service Learning course. How I became a connection involves an email I got two summers ago to meet a woman name Sister Lucy, (over lunch) who was visiting from India to do a presentation about the Maher Ashram organization that she had started nearly 18 years prior. I didn't fully understand then what her organization was about, and didn't really feel that understanding until I was standing among the women, children, and staff who make Maher, Maher. Needless to say, I was very grateful for the request to join, and eager to experience a culture I might otherwise not experience on my own.

Now I will get onto our trip! I'll be honest I don't like to fully know the length of flights over five hours, because well, that's already a days' worth of time I'll likely be crammed in a seat in a close proximity to: a baby, open mouth snorer, fully reclined seat to my front, or airplane bathroom just steps away. I've gotten decent practice and expertise with sleeping on planes, now involving the fully committed "eye-bra" mask, ear plugs or headphones, inflatable neck pillow, and a blanket of sorts. I've found I can make it through most flights comfortably though walking past first class, and even business class makes me curious as to whether my butt and legs would fall asleep if they could be stretched out on a foot rest, or even ever so elevated with those little foot holds in business class. (The economist in me also wonder why they haven't made a 100% economy-seated international flight, thus fitting twice and many folks of equal standing into a flight... though Ryan Air seems to be well on their way towards this!)

Anyway, we had something like 7 or 8 hours of flying from Boston, to Germany, and then 6 or 7 (or so) to Mumbai to get us there around midnight local time. During this second flight, our row was graced with the presence of a little baby girl, just six months old, flying to India with her family to see their extended family for the first time since she was born. Turned out she was not a fan of flying, or sleeping. I was thankful to have a window seat and opted for some music and movies during the first part of the flight. Once the sun started to set I was pleased to have such a seat as I was positioned just over the wing with a spectacular view. 


As anyone with glasses could understand, trying to give yourself time with and without glasses, can be helpful for resting ones' eyes. However, I found it hard take them off once the night sky began to reveal itself above the wing of our plane. It was as though we were above a giant mirror. Constellations glittering above us in the sky, and down below a unique site to behold. It was as though the stars themselves were tucked down in the hills and valleys of the earth, though in reality it was tiny pockets of houses and dwellings with thin threads of white light connecting them to each other. It was a unique sight I've never seen before when flying and really gave me a strange sensation. It was clear through the window a mile or so up in the sky that although these small pockets of light were separate entities, they were connected--their separate glows pulsing gently in harmony, making the land appear to be living and breathing. It's amazing how the absence of formalized city grids and highways can reveal much more life than the view of an overwhelming bustling city. 
I also saw an area so lit up it appeared as though it was spelling something out, however after scouring over my Hindi grammar book, I can only conclude it's not fully lit (all the letters I saw similarities in are a bit more intricate) or perhaps it's another language, or not even meant to be read...! Perhaps one of my friends from around the world can enlighten me if they see something I cannot. :) 

After landing we had a five hour drive to Pune, where we arrived before the sun to smiling facings eager to help us carry our bags, and drape us with hand cut cloth, floral leis, and of course, the Maher Welcome Song, which is to the tune of Happy Birthday, with a few variations, claps, and dance moves! (There is also a We Will Miss You version, but that's for the end of our journey.)
One of the dozen or more lovely welcomes!
We didn't so much as graze our pillows before we were seated for our first oh so yummy meal and tea, to which we became quite accustomed to sipping on five times a day between three meals, and two tea times respectfully. That's all assuming you didn't go anywhere new or visit someone's home, as that would add at least one more cup of tea!

It's an odd thought, as I sit writing to you, I think of where so many people sit at the same youthful age of 24. Nearly a quarter of the way through life (if one is lucky enough to see three digits,) so many of my friends, classmates, family, and coworkers within a few years myself are getting married, having babies, getting dogs, separating, moving in together etc. Isn't it funny what experiences lead us to such unexpected places? It's hard to say I love being on my own, but in the same breath, what would I have traded for these opportunities that I could have been blind to? These past few years have given me so many opportunities to learn more about myself and test my limits and challenge myself to pursue projects and ideas with my whole heart. One of my favorite expressions, "They say searching for love, is like searching for yourself. When you find yourself, you find love, because they are the same" is one that I carry with me where ever I roam. 

I mention this as India presented a whole new realm of emotion, purpose, and value for the traditional marriage and dating systems which so much of American life revolves around. It's interesting to think even from a young age, we see love and romance as being a journey to find this one person to help us with our issues, bring us happiness, and enjoy life with us as we fall deeper in love. It was such a stark difference to hear not just about arranged marriages, but to think of the concept of not bonding or dating with someone before marrying them. For so many of us (Americans) it was hard to fathom success in a marriage without the precursor of love, but for many of the folks we met, marriage was a coming together of two people to form a team to provide for, and raise their family. What's more, some explained that they believed they would never fall in love with someone in the way we do.

I think one of my favorite parts of traveling extends beyond the sights one can see and includes not just the diversity of peoples ideas, but trying to have a greater understanding of their motivations and perspectives. I find so much of the emotion that drives us to be excited to return home stems from our own ideals and views butting up against that of the culture we're confronted with. Once you recognize this and embrace the 30°C sun shining down on you as cows, cars, and trucks rush past with horns blaring, smoke thick in the air filling your lungs, you have identified this internal struggle. I think to my return flight where I had my bags searched. Looking to this past summer when I had the same thing happen, I felt so shaken and targeted. Ironic right? Well, the next time this happened (in India,) I changed my perspective. I had five hours until my flight, so plenty of time. I had nothing to be concerned with in my luggage, and within moments I was on my way, off to find a coffee!

This perspective shift, allowed me to see a different side of this opportunity than I otherwise might have, though mosquitos included, I still did have some personal struggles! So without further distraction, back to tea time on day one, we toured the Vatsalydham facility and met not only the women and children, but also grandmothers and men who take refuge at the facility. The women, grandmothers, boys, and kiddos all stay at the main compound and the home for men is about 3/4 a mile down the road. 

Throughout our touring we were all struggling to adjust to the smoke in the air, mainly a result of people in local dwellings burning trash and manure for warmth in the winter months. Though it was quite warm to us, only about 50°-60°F at night, those temperatures were much colder to folks there, especially when you remove down, or other materials we wouldn't think twice of leaving behind in cold weather. When visiting the main office to finish up our touristic papers we met a lovely little girl who is now four and quite proficient in English, though she originally arrived to Maher after being found as a baby near death with her mom who was just eleven at the time. For those who've followed my travels through time, you might recall during my time in Italy I had a student who had a glass eye, and how I had a hard time understanding his resilience and positive outlook despite his past and the events that ultimately took his sight. 

It was quite heart-wrenching to hear these stories and know that many of the women and children who now call Maher home have similar stories to share. Harder still was how familiar the words seemed to folks, obviously not out of choice, but just as "the norm." And further still, to think of how many more women, children, boys, people were out there living those realities. Later in our stay, I worked in the main office helping with design work, and Sister Lucy handed me an article over her shoulder, and I saw it was dated that day. I started scanning the page and quickly understood it was about a girl who'd been raped, beaten, and killed not more than an hour or two from where we were, with the perpetrator(s) still out there. I could see how much it hurt, as Sister Lucy said while still looking over the files at her desk "We couldn't...get to her in time." This is perhaps the toughest reality no matter what kind of organization you're in when you're helping people, or helping living creatures, and things for that matter. It seems at times that there is so much hurt, evil, and suffering in the world. It can be hard to remember that all the good you do cannot be undone by that which you can't control, even though it can feel that way at times.

That evening as we all began to feel our energy fade, we joined the women and children out front before dinner as the stars began to emerge for the evening prayer. As it was only the 27th or 28th at that point, we were still celebrating the fast approaching New Year. We gathered close to the little altar arranged out front with twinkling lights and ornaments all over the trees and shrubs. Little hands looped around us and gentle heads tilted over to our shoulders as everyone began to sing. It's always humbling to hear singing in another language, especially when the kiddos are half your size, and the women twice, and some triple your age. It restores your belief that although languages can be tricky to learn, and in many cases prove to be barriers between understanding, some of the most genuine communication comes from just being with others and sharing that human connection--even if that's just existing together for a moment, acknowledging each other with our presence.


Though I can't say we all slept well what with the huge time change, we were all ready to give it a try! The sun rose later than I expected, though I didn't actually know the time. I hadn't changed my watch, and my phone was still on German time having not sunk with any networks, so I felt as though I really had no place of time! 
Rising with the sun!

Eventually we grouped up for breakfast and headed off to see an array of Maher facilities, homes, schools, and kindergartens. One thing I noticed this day, as well as our first night driving in, was that all the trees within close proximity to the highways had a red-orange and white stripe painted around the trunks, no matter what size. After observing it a bit more I can only surmise those colors are picked with intent (the flag) with the leaves making up the green portion. Perhaps that's the just the designer in me...! I do know that the numbered trees in bigger cities are accounted for with intended use of being CEO (Carbon Emission Offsets,) so perhaps the striped ones are also just being accounted for, and perhaps marked so people can see them. 

Note the red and white stripes
Our first stop (going off from my notes, apologies if I mix the names and places up!) was Dayasagar Children's Home, in Bakhori which was quite close to Pune. Here we had our first, of many Tilak, or Tika of the day, which is when you get a blessing/greeting in the form or a red vermillion paste of turmeric, alum, iodine, camphor, etc., applied between your eyebrows, generally in a dot for women, line for men. The point between ones' eyes is the seat of latent wisdom, and where mental concentration is suppose to reside. At this first place we met a tiny fellow who we were guessing to be around three, only to find he was eight and had been very small at birth, and was malnourished in his youth. We also saw a young girl who was dressed brightly and determined it was her Birthday. Which of course meant we had to sing for her! She was beaming with delight and knelt down to touch the feet of her teacher/ elder as a sign of deep respect as he wished her a happy birthday.

We next stopped off on the side of the highway in the slums to see a one-room classroom. The intent to bring the classroom to peoples homes is to give the children a place to learn and reside while their parents work, requiring no travel, and no extra expenses. It also keeps the children from working, or being an extra burden for parents while they work.



When the bus has to stop for the goats to cross 
A brick layer community

We next went to a beggars community to see a school which also served as a place to help provide food and water for bathing the children. As we walked among peoples houses and dwellings it was hard to not feel as though we were parading through their homes to see them as a spectacle, though we learned later through debriefing with many others, this isn't shaming in the manner we see it. It's an opportunity for us to see where the organization starts when it finds a new location in need, and how far they are able to progress with the acceptance of the communities they work hard to help and engage. The beggars community received funding for a well which meant they had access to water there, where in other places, they would have had to walk and carry water.

Our next stop was at a more formalized school, just to say hello, and then to another Maher home where we enjoyed a wonderful lunch together before departing once more to visit a temple. 

SO YUMMY!
When entering the temple, you step over an eerie face which is meant to ward off bad entities from entering. 
Can you spot the face?
Then as we approached the central temple it's clear the door is too small to walk through. This is with intent, so that one not only symbolically bows, but also physically bows, abandoning self-righteousness, and self-centered thoughts. 
Watch your head!
The next room houses a huge bell which one is suppose to ring (loudly) before entering the next room, to alert the gods because just like people, the gods are busy! We then went up more stairs, through a smaller door, and down stairs to the main temple where we gathered on the floor, all knee to knee in tight space. 
In the main temple
We then practiced deep-breathing and our Ohms which are suppose to help connect our heads to our hearts. We then did a loop around the outside of the temple before joining together to head to our final stop.

The bricklaying community was difficult for many people as I think beyond the tiredness, we felt not as welcomed here. We learned later this would be an example of a place that is in the very early stages of forming a relationship with the Maher program. Many of the children, and parents, young themselves have no reason to trust outside groups to help them, and it takes time for organizations like Maher to prove their trust and commitment. Hard to think this was just Day 2!

Well I will end this post one here, as this was a huge day, and the New Year festivities are soon to follow! :) Stay tuned for the next segment!
 



August 8, 2016

#50 - Icelandic Adventures! (Part 2)



Dear Dubrovnik,


I feel so blessed to celebrate my 50th blog posting! Just about three years ago I took a deep breath and decided I had a unique perspective that might me worth capturing, and I've been so happy to share my experiences with friends and family from all corners of the earth. I've been so fortunate to travel and see what feels like a great amount of the world. Though, when I look at my scratch map I'm well aware I have a long way to go, which is exciting because that means I have so many more opportunities, new meals, and missed trains to live and breath new cultures.

I suppose it's time to continue with our story and tell a bit more about the wonders of Iceland! Before departing our adorable little cabin Air BnB, we packed all of our bags, including a couple pounds of cooked pasta we stuffed into a ziplock and later ate at a gas station when we were taking a brief break. Did people give us strange looks? You better bet, but they were really cute Icelandic folk so it was almost endearing like they were looking at a little puppy eating a sock powdered with paprika dust. We headed back down the road a couple miles and ended up at Reynisfjara Beach, which is easier described as the black sand beach. We were lucky to get there with few tourists, some of which were speaking Italian....! Moreover, I can't describe the love these folks have for their country. Being from Maine, I feel like I know remote, and untouched nature, but was excited, and humbled to see the honor and pride these people have in their land, history, and the hidden people. In the far distance to the West you can see the Dyrhólaey arch, and to the right, Reynisdrangar, the sea stacks which are believed to be the three mast ship of a group a trolls who were turned to stone when the sun rays caught them.

Some of the sea stacks of Reynisdrangar
Dyrhólaey arch seen at a distance
Watch out for those Sneaker Waves!

From this point, and intermittently throughout this day and the next, I took to the helm as the driver of the sneaker car, and despite my overwhelming desire to shift like I was in Fast and the Furious, I was able to drive a standard with very few issues! Having two co-pilots was tricky at times as one would be stretching their arms wide explaining the gears catching while the other was drifting in and out of French translations making motions like their rolling pizza dough as we approached a stop sign, and subsequent start, but all in all, they were wonderful coaches. I think if one can learn a car with multiple instructors, it just gets easier from there.

From here we started out by ducking into the Secret Lagoon and ended up being able to do a walk through and even checking out their hydroponic tomato greenhouses without anyone batting so much as an eye lash in our direction. Next, we headed to a rather deserted area and even patched our trip across a gravel stretch to head into the Golden Circle which was the most touristic part of our trip, which means it was also quite tiring! We did see a literal band of horses being herded and had to stop for a bit to take in the event. The herders were really friendly and wished us well on our trip. Little did they know - we'd seen an owl already!
Purple hills of lupins!


Of the three major sights we stopped off at Gullfoss which is an extraordinary set of falls tucked down into a hillside, famous for it's protection from hydroelectric development from a very brave, and forward thinking lady called Sigríður Tómasdóttir. Her father was offered 50,000 Ikr to sell the falls for power, and she put up great protest, even walking 120 kilometers to Reykjavik to stand for her beliefs. When electrical investors persisted, she threatened to throw herself from the falls, but eventually is was throw out and the falls were reserved for the people on Iceland to enjoy.
Next we headed to the Great Geyser, which is actually not active at the moment, instead there are a number of other little geysers that are bubbling crystal clear stinky water, and others bursting into the air.


After some attempts at a small hill start (I did it!) we set out for Þingvellir National Park to stand between two tectonic plates! The UNSECO sight is famous for other reasons, including the translation of Þingvellir to quite literally "Parliament Plains." It's the first place parliament met, among many other strange stories we encountered... like a section of the river know for drowning folks who committed crimes.

Waterfall between the plates! Yay for science and nature!

With all of our energy drained we drove to our Air BnB in Hafnarfjordur that was about 20 minutes out of town with a cute older couple who loved the whole premise of Air BnB for the real reasons, to make connections, share stories, and education others on their culture and history. This included clearing up some grey area around whales and whether they were only hunted for tourists. Our hosts explained that whaling had long been a part of the culture, and cuisine, and had been the staple of many of their relatives work and industry. *Great story I'll return to about a sassy fellow guest we met and then met later on in our trip.* After hearing some stories from them we were very relieved, and happy to give any and all of their food suggestions a go! We ventured to their favorite, and most recommended restaurant, Gamla vínhúsið at around 9:30pm to celebrate the approaching Birthday of dear Sego, and give a go at some local foods!


We had the most bubbly waitress ever who was more than happy to give us some advice for a night on the town, even exclaiming that people arrive around 11:30 -12:00, stay until 5:00am, drink with friends, and wait for places to open for breakfast, and then starting it all over! It was indeed a very fun night full of crazy expensive drinks (we debated snatching peoples half finished beers - but didn't for sake of looking less weird.) We got to see a very local preformance at a 3rd floor coffee/ very local bar, a more touristic bar, Icelandic dance bar, Kiki the gay bar full of the Icelandic soccer team that ended up crushing at the recent tournament, and many other places we dipped into. We then went and stood on the shore of the harbor as the sun rose, well it never really went down, but around 3:00am we headed home for a couple hours of sleep, packing, breakfast, and heading north to another part of the wonderful Icelandic world!

At breakfast (revisiting the whale topic) a sassy guest to exclaimed how impossible it would be for her to really "immerse" in a place for ONLY one week, let alone traveling as frequently as we were, said "Oh I'm sorry," in response to my story about us sharing a great dinner and trying whale. And although we would have been much happier not seeing her again - Marge and I did at the airport, and in Boston, which was funny because she was suppose to be really "immersing" in the culture for another 3 weeks..... ;)

Our hosts sent us off with some amazing ideas for sights and we did our best to seek all of them out, even some other ones that were pieced together in the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. We headed north under the Hvalfjörður Tunnel, and proceeded to drive the wrong way for twenty minutes of so, and eventually ended up in a small town where we stopped for coffee and sandwiches, and of course, paprika Pringles, which I might also be eating while writing this post. Thought rare and unavailable in the US, my dear friend and coworker, Sarah, who just returned from Iceland, kindly brought me back a tube that I've been rationing ever since. We then took a long pitstop at the beach where we dressed perhaps the warmest on our whole trip. We then, happened upon a waterfall in the mountainside and mustered the courage and strength to climb up to the top where it met the glacier chunks!
Sneaky seals spying on us
Tim Gunn may even approve of this outfit 
The waterfall we hiked!
Buðir black church

This church is one of three black churches in Iceland, colored so due to the use of pitch often used with ships to protect from the salty, icy winds.

Turf house restaurant!

This was the foggiest day (aside from when we arrived, and it got more and more dense as we approached Snaefelljokull to venture to the singing caves. We tried to take the 570 over the mountain, but the sneaker car was objecting to even the shallowest inclines and we preferred the scenic route any who!
This sign cracked me up so much.
Entrance to the singing cave 


When trekking around these rather haunting caves, I spooked myself by talking as I approached a cave only to realize that they produce an incredible acoustic that felt like I was talking with another person.
Peculiar moss formation we found after taking our chance singing in the caves!


And of course we have to venture down to the creepy seaside house with no one in the nearby area.

Within a matter of minutes, the fog started to burn off, and the weather improved 300%, which we can only attribute to our pleasant singing in the caves which we feel must have pleased the gods enough to give us some sunshine! We set out for Olafsvik where we camped for the night, and successfully made pasta by mini camp stove, despite some sea breeze.


The next morning we set out with no real destination in particular and ended up seeing many great sights along the way. We passed Kirkjufell just outside of Grundarfjörður which is a strangly shaped mountain which is long and tubular from two sides, and short and narrow from the other ends. It too has been featured in a few films and famous photo shoots!


We then stopped off in Stykkisholmer a port city to see some small town living. It was a beautiful little town with a passion for fishing, and interesting drawings. Here I bought a few post cards and a small book that depicts many different, unique parts of Icelandic culture, like why they're not into the idea of trains, what they think about stinky sulfur showers, and it even touches on the "non believers" of the hidden people. It says only a small percentage of current day folks will admit to believing, in hidden people or elves, but if you were to ask those same people to smash a rock - they wouldn't... they know better than to meddle with elves...!

From here we ventured back towards the Hvalfjordur, and drove around it to the most inland region where we got out to stretch our legs and hike to Glymur, the second tallest waterfall in Iceland, after spilling a lot of yogurt in the car of course.
After our hike, we were heading back to what was expected to be, the best, most well earned shower, wifi, and swimming ever, except that site was closed- and the only sign was on the front door...! We ended up tucked behind the mountains near a beautiful, but very windy lake, with no amenities, and we might have witnessed a man loose a fight with a giant fish but we weren't sure what to do.

The next morning, we tried to swim in many pools, and kept running into ones that didn't open for a few hours, which was when we decided to go get some famous Icelandic hotdogs to buy some time before my volcano tour at Thrihnukagigur. My bus arrived promptly tardy, as customary, and we set out for the mountains! My ground contained a variety of folks from my age, and crazy enthused, to older and there because the wife was having a spa day. I also ran into a group of folks who were visiting for the tattoo convention, and they had some very impressive art!

Although I thought my opportunity to hike from a local ski resort to nearby volcano sat among the more fancy things to do, I learned quickly upon arrival to the base camp (after a 45 minute hike across the lava fields) that there will always be fancier people in life. But perhaps, where I sit in these experiences, fortunate to be there, is the perfect place because I am still humbled by nature and such opportunities. After we settled down at base camp we could hear the copper blades of a helicopter arriving. The young couple, no older than 32 either of them, stepped off in their designer leather and patent outer wear while the rest of us sat their sweaty from the hike. The older gentleman leaned in towards me and chuckled "how the other half lives." I briefly thought I'd have something in common with him, only to find when he asked "so where's your next trip" and I said "well I'm here... haven't thought of other places..." he was really waiting to tell me about his plans to trek to Antarctica next month with his wife. And after he took international calls in a volcano field to discuss his housing complex development in the South, I felt that I was perhaps the other half, of the other half he was depicting.

Just before my group headed to the mouth of the volcano, a black ops heli flew in with a whole family, decked head to toe in gucci, and prada. Half of them didn't care to actually go into the volcano, and those that did, got priority, and even left early once we arrive to the bottom of the cavern.
Thrihnukagigur is a rather young volcano at only 4,500 years old by comparison to the two that sit adjacent at over 20,000, and 50,000 years. is very unique in that it's the only know volcano in the world where you can descend into it. It's left so hollow due to a secondary flue that acted as the mouth of a kettle would when the water boils. When it stopped erupting, the secondary flue acted like a little vacuum and shot out all the magma from the inner volcano.

When the volcano was discovered about 40-50 years ago, the first explorer was lowered into the volcano, not knowing how far down it was, or what was own there with the help of 6-8 men using a lot of rope. The main cavern is about 200 meters down, and holds a pretty consistent temperature year round, about as cool as a fridge, as do most caves in Iceland which made perfect hideaways for the outlaws who were banished to the hills. our ride down was about 10 minutes by a jerry-rigged windowwasher of sorts.

The descent!

The colors were wonderfully brilliant and it was explained that they were largely due to the various gasses that were exposed to the rocks. The giant hole seen above, about 25 feet wide was investigated by getting the largest latter the country and lowering it into the volcano only to find it was another flue that ended about 15 feet further in the wall.
 This was looking down to the entrance of the secondary flue that was closed because it was a bit too slippery. Thank goodness, because it really felt like we were getting too close to the center of the earth for my liking...!
About a minute off the ground, you can see the orange helmets of others! 
It was very humbling, and beautiful experience to get to be inside a volcano. As the earth itself makes up so much of Icelandic folklore and history, it was certainly a very unique, and unforgettable experience! It was even raining in there, who would have thought?
The snowy mountains in the distance where we hiked from


Marge and Sego spent the day in town and picked me up upon my return to the bus station and then we all headed off to our final resting spot before heading out the next day. Despite the sulfur stink, we were so grateful for hot, steamy showers, and wonderfully soft beds. We all passed out and woke up around 4:00 to get Sego to the airport. After saying our so-long-for-nows Marge and I headed to Reykjavik to pass a little time before our (delayed) flight. We found a wonderful little place called Kaffir and enjoyed a yummy bagel salad sandwich with coffee, and of course, hot chocolate.

The main church Hallgrímskirkja
modeled after the basaltic columns

Marge and I then headed off to the airport to return our car only to find the rental place was closed, but thankfully some locals who were probably the same age as us made a couple calls and solved all our silly touristic problems! After some delay, multiple security checks, and a 5 pack of beer, we boarded our flight back home! I then caught the 11:50PM bus home, and went into work after a couple hours of sleep... sounds a lot like Mexico right? ;)

*Also, here is the link to my wrap up video I put together from all of our clips from Iceland! Iceland Video! :)


All in all, a place that will truly steal your heart if you let it, (highly recommended) and a place that will remind you that there are still many good people on their earth who are willing to help, entertain, and just coexist if you're willing to let your guard down a bit, and dance in the midnight sun! 

Until 
next time,
svo lengi!