Monday, October 13, 2008

Terri's Visit: Offline makes for long blogging

Well, it is nice to be back online and able to communicate with everyone again. it's simply amazing how completely dependant we are on the internet here - for writing and calling. Now I feel I have so much to write about and worry I will forget a great many things. Well, I will begin and see where it takes me:)

These first pictures are around Isafjordur on a beautiful afternoon. We went for a walk before picking Terri up at the hotel.

Terri arrived last week for a visit and left this morning out of Isafjordur on the 9:30 AM flight. So, her flight into Keflavik went well. She ended up finding a hotel to rest in for a few hours before walking around Reykjavik before boarding to come to Isafjordur. It's a long trip and I am sure she was exhausted by the time she got here on Wednesday night. So, we came home, sat for a bit, and headed to Thai Koon the Thai restaurant for some grub. And so began our Yom Kippur...

On Thursday morning, Jacob headed out to class, ready to make his presentation on the erosion in Cap

e Cod Bay and the affect of the canal on several of the beaches. It was very interesting! I headed to rehearsal with Zelia in tow. It was great, warmed up, talked a lot, taught each other some phrases and got moving. We made a plan to meet Mondays and Thursdays and to take turns giving the warm-up. Then decided to meet on Friday as well. When I returned to the house, Terri had bravely left and went into town to find

a coffee shop. I say bravely not because this is a big town but because it definitely took me a while to remember which way was BACK to our house. She made it and brought home what turned out to be a yummy dessert for break-fast. When Jacob returned from class and a successful presentation we went for a walk and to the market to get ingredients for the blintze torte. Then we all enjoyed a delicious nap, or really play time if your name is Zelia.... before cooking for the break fast. It seems sort of weird the whole odd observance of Yom Kippur. Rabbi Cherie sent me a meditation for people who cannot fast on Yom Kippur, which was somewhat grounding to read. However, I felt quite disconnected from it. It was really nice to sit with everyone, Danielle included, for a break-fast none the less.

On Friday, I enjoyed a great rehearsal with Katri and an invitation to perform out in the town on October 25. I am VERY excited. There is a town effort to get people out and into the shops. so "they" (I have no idea who) approached some artists in town and will be placing them in different locations during that day for 15 minute performances. Katri asked me if I wanted to join her which of course I do - and get this, read it twice, we get paid! Wow - Europe is a wonderful place. We worked on some more phrases and just enjoyed really moving. Jacob even came to watch for a bit after class. Together we headed home where Zelia was giving her Grandma a run for her money, ugh...

During the day on Friday, I was also working on putting together a flier for the Pilates class. I had met with Oli in the morning and we decided to give a free class on Tuesday (tomorrow at 6:30 AM) and then to officially begin the course on Friday at 6:30 AM as well. It was fun to work with the Icelandic and try to put something together. I brought it over to them and they have fixed it and posted it around town.

In the afternoon, Jacob and I headed to our first Icelandic language course and were SO excited. The students from his program were all there as well as two other women, one from the Czech Republic and one from Denmark. Class ended up being only about an hour long (which was good for Zelia who was still screaming at home) and a lot of fun. It was just so nice to begin thinking about words and phrases and say some things. Although it remained really difficult to hear the separate words. Well it's a beginning and like I said, Katri is hope for all of us:)

Friday night, Terri took us out for a wonderful meal at the Hotel Isafjordur where we ate delicious salt cod, wolf fish, salad and had a bottle of wine. Afterward, Terri and Jacob picked up the rental car and we went over to the apartment of the other students and ate a delicious cheese cake made by Astrid (Brazilian, but in Germany since she was 14). Tanja (Hong Kong/USA) and Tran(Romania/USA) both live there and Henry (UK) was visiting as well.

Saturday morning we packed up the car, got everything we needed, including hot soup in a thermos, salami, cheese and bread. We got in the car for a ride to Dynjandi, through a few towns, notably the small town of Pthyngari (can't spell that correctly with the English alphabet). Zelia slept for a long time which was the plan - a nice nap for her in the car. We drove through the long tunnel, through fjords and in Pthyngari we headed up and over a mountain pass. As we climbed up the mountain, we approached the snow line and headed into the low hanging clouds. The road was VERY narrow and a bit slippery with the snow. I cannot say it was a relaxing ride for any of us. Thank you Jacob for great driving - ugh, I wouldn't have wanted to do it. That said, sitting in the back with Zelia was no picnic, I was truly scared a few times. As we came down the mountain the views were spectacular and there was the water, totally calm, like glass. As we headed around the fjord, across the way we could see our destination, a beautiful waterfall (foss). We came around to it, parked in the little lot where there were two other cars. This area is also a camping site, but the bathrooms were closed, presumably for the winter. We could see some people climbing up to the main part of the waterfall. A man was walking toward us, preparing his pipe. We said hello and chatted for a while. I even got to ask him his name in Icelandic which was fun. Turns out he is a music teacher in the music school in Isafjordur for guitar. Of course I asked him if maybe he would be interested in performing with me in the dance concert. I think a solo with the classical guitar would be great. Will keep you updated. In the meantime Jacob found some sorrel - it is all over the place here and called hundsur (dog sour). the man, named Frederick pulled some moss out of his pocket and explained that it is edible and often mixed into rice and that it was incredibly nutritious. I love that we drove 150 kilometers to meet someone from our town:)

After a diaper change and a wrap we were off to walk up the mountain. There was a nice trail to follow and great views of the smaller falls below the main one. Zelia was singing away and loving her time outside. About halfway up she fell asleep and remained so until we were eating lunch at the picnic tables. As we headed up, there were many blueberry bushes, but as the berries had frozen and thawed they were not very tasty. Once we got to the top we saw a tour bus pull up below and a slew of teenagers started heading up. Mostly they were Icelandic but it seemed like there were at least 2 French girls...we didn't talk with any of them so have no other information. When we got to the bottom we took out our delicious lunch, perfect for a grey day of hiking:) Zelia enjoyed some time playing on the ground, but honestly not enough - live and learn. Check out the videos at the end to see and hear the waterfall.

We had thought to head to Oli's farm in Phtyngeri on our return but decided it was getting late and time to head home as it wasn't a short drive. The mountain pass was not as bad, as the snow had melted and was now more familiar. Except for Zelia being particularily unhappy it was an uneventful drive home. We did stop at Bonus on the way and took advantage of having a car and did a big shopping - including lobster tails (small lobsters). We slept well that night.

We slept in on Sunday morning and then packed the car again, this time with a plan to drive in another direction to Bolungarvik and then to Sudavik for lunch at Amma Habby. The drive to Bolungarvik was beautiful, but Jacob was told very dangerous. They are in the midsts of making a tunnel to get there due to avalanches...ugh. It costs 1 million krona for every kilometer of digging in the tunnel! For now the drive is so pretty it seems a shame but clearly it is necessary. We saw many fish drying huts along the way and a part of a rainbow. The town is the next largest town in the Westfjords, had a few shops, including a Samkaup (the nicer market in town) and also what is supposed to be a nice pool - looked to me like there was a water slide. On the way into town was a beautiful sand beach and right before that a small museum showing the old settelments, with two homes built into the ground with grass roofs and fish drying houses with fish and shark hanging inside. There was another section across the road to go and see but we got back in the car where Zelia was sleeping. In the end, we decided to just drive aorund the town and then head back through Isafjordur to Sudavik. So we drove past Bonus, the incinerator and the airport and headed around the fjords in the other direction.

Here's a little history I learned the other day. The site where the incinerator is today was the last place that witches were burned in Iceland. The history is similar to Salem, single women with opinions and intelligence were hunted down and killed. This seems to have been happening at the same time as in the States. Apparently the Westfjords were most guilty of these witch hunts and Jacob and I find ourselves yet again incapable of getting away from witches:)

To get to Sudavik we passed through the oldest tunnel in Iceland, buit in the 1940's. It was very short and around a curve, sort of sweet. We arrived in Sudavik which is built right along the road and the water. In 1995 there were two terrible avalanches, killing a total of 35 people. The first was in Flateryri and the second in Sudavik. The people killed were in their homes! It was a major tragedy here as you can imagine. I was recently told that the people who stayed are doing much better emotionally and have been able to move on with their lives - much better than those who left the area. When we got to Sudavik I was surprised to see what looked to me as more flat area between the homes and the mountains. Clearly that is not telling in terms of safety.

When we arrived we were looking for the restaurant which we were told was a 1950's diner. We got there a little early so did a little turn around in the town and then headed back. The sign said it would be open at noon and at noon, in walked the owners. We headed in and it was exactley a 1950'2 diner. The furniture was perfect and the walls were filled with Marylin Monroe, James Dean, Betty Boop, the Rat Pack and Halloween decore! Terri, Jacob and I enjoyed mozzorella sticks and then Jacob and I ordered burgers with fried eggs and Terri had a breakfast sandwich. The fries were good and the burgers like great fastfood burgers, with a coke. And the coke was made with sugar not corn syrup - so good. Of course there was 50's music playing in the background. It really was a great place and a bar to boot:)

After lunch we walked up the road to where I had seen a sign for hiking. We had spoken to the man in the restaurant and he said we could head up the hill, along the river and to the dam. So that's what we did. The walk was beautiful, the air crisp and the sky blue. I think it is my favorite hiking weather. Zelia again started off singing, but about half way up fell fast asleep all tucked in her wrap. On this walk we did find more blueberries and they were a yummy treat. The meandering river was really nice and the sound of the brooks along the way peaceful. We made it up to the dam and then decided we should begin the walk back down. Another time it would be great to take a lunch and keep walking and have a picnic. The view back over the water was gorgeous. Sudavik has several cod pens in the water and rock barriers to protect the boats. (I know there is a better word for that but I don't remember what Jacob told me).

That night, back in Isafjordur, after returning the car Jacob prepared whale and lobster tails for dinner. Danielle joined us and ate my whale. The meat is VERY red, but actually tastier than I thought. Surprisingly I liked it more than Jacob and Terri, but Danielle loves it and she got my steak!

On Monday morning Terri headed out with Jacob to the hotel to catch the bus to the airport for her 9:30 flight. Her plan was to head to the Blue Lagoon for a few hours before flying back to the US. I cannot wait to hear about it.

It was a great visit, lots of exploring and eating (as always).