Every time I visit Australia, the inhabitants proudly tell me how every living thing on the continent wants to kill me in horrible, awful ways. Now that I’ve visited Iceland, I can just laugh at them and tell them I’ve visited a place where the earth rises up and tries to kill you in horrible, awful ways. Here’s the first Icelandic word I’ve learned.
I spent all day yesterday touring the fantastic fabulous blasted landscape of Iceland. It’s beautiful stuff, but also stark and a little intimidating. Every place we visited seem to have a big “HÆTTA!” sign on it, and then you’d get closer and discover an abrupt cliff dropping off into the sea, or a bubbling mudpot reeking of sulfur, or clouds of steam (also reeking of sulfur) pouring out of the ground. No active volcanoes so far, but the residents all laugh and tell you there could be an eruption any time.
Another weird thing is that often the official signage on some dramatic deadly natural wonder will matter-of-factly inform you that this phenomenon can kill you, and by the way, it’s also haunted by a malevolent ghost who will kill you. I think they’re trying to make very sure that you won’t try to dip a toe in the superheated jet of poisonous gas squirting out of the ground, or something.
Anyway, it’s a lovely place, just not very cuddly.
The people are wonderful, though, so I’ll probably survive my week here. Also, they can take advantage of the natural phenomena in useful way. I also spent yesterday at the Blue Lagoon, a spa with geothermally heated pools and saunas. It was delightful.
It was so good I’m going to have to insist in my speaking contracts from now on that they include a day in a spa before I lecture. A day in a spa in Iceland. I think my next speaking engagement is in August, in St Paul, Minnesota. Boy, are they going to be surprised when I tell them I’m going to have to get there by way of Reykjavik.
I’m speaking at the university here tonight, and then I’m off on a two-day trip to look at more deadly beauty.