Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Videos from Grunnavik and water play

what a climb

We finally climbed to the hanging valley that overlooks Isafjordur and that is believed to be created by a BIG troll sitting in the mountain:)

I met Jamie and Allan (2 new students), picked Zelia up and off we went. Zelia walked a bit of the way and then went on my back. It was only .5 kl, but it was pretty much straight up and hard work, especially with an extra 11 kilo on my back. When we got up into the bowl it was FILLED with huge boulders - the pictures do not do them justice. All pushed down by snow we imagined whether there were any sheep under any of them, ugh.

There is a steel box attached to one of the rocks and we wrote our names - Zelia and I were 1055 and 10056. We hung out ate a cookie with peanut butter and some berries before heading back down. Walking down we tried several things with Zelia but eventually she was on my back again - everything felt a it scary, but I had help when I needed it. It was intense on the knees:)

Once back home we had a dinner of french toast with Jamie, delicious.

The other day I got a bunch of hand-me-downs from Johanna, a woman at work who just moved and I thought this outfit was adorable:) Zelia is eating one of her new favorites, granola with AB milk - she would have preferred some fresh blueberries in there!

By the way - the days are of course getting shorter and shorter and it is dark by 11 now and still pretty dark at 4am. I think it is a real gift to have been given the opportunity to truly appreciate darkness. I appreciate brightness and sun but had never given much thought to the dark, besides being scared of it. I welcomed it now and am happy it has returned. I love learning to appreciate seemingly mundane things, which they are not actually. So thank you universe.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shabbat dinner

Friday evening we had a really nice Shabbat dinner with Danielle, Jaimie, Max, Gerdur, Gisli, Erlingur, Heidurun, Tray, Astrid, David and Albertina - here are some pics from the delicious pot-luck. We made round Challah to celebrate the end of the program and beginning of the next year.

Saturday, I went to Peter's early to help him prepare for the CMM (coastal and marine management) brunch for the staff and first year students. This week, they begin to leave and the new students arrive.

In the evening I got to enjoy a girls' night at Abertina's house which was a lot of fun and this morning Jacob is getting ready to leave for 2 weeks....He is off to Breidafjord with his class for a field trip and then continues with Tray to Husavik for a marine mammals course through the university of Iceland. Zelia and I will be holding down the fort!

Here are some pictures from dinner and Zelia walking around in her new rain boots. Oh there are also two pictures of Zelia having a great time playing in the sink.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Wild Meal

On Saturday morning Jacob woke early to go fishing, an oh no, it wasn´t in the ocean., he has actually been turned on to fresh water fishing these days and we are OH so thankful. He came home with 4 beautiful char and a sea trout.

After breakfast we hopped in the car and drove to Engidalur where we had found beautiful berries earlier in the week and we filled a big pitcher while Zelia sat in the bushes quietly eating and turning blue.

After a nap we headed out with Gisli and Gerður to look for mushrooms. I found my first and learned how to pick them. Zelia was more interested in berries of course and after putting all the mushrooms together we had a fare amount. We headed home and Jacob began to prepare a feast and of course Gisli, Gerður and Tómas joined. What a beautiful thing - to eat almost exclusively of food we had collected.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Perfect Vacation Grunnavík

ahhhh, we have been back already over a week...but Zelia still says Fríki when she sees a boat, so it´s not too far in the past.

Our departure for Grunnavík was delayed a few hours because the weather was terrible - raining and windy, really disgusting. We spent the morning packing and getting ready and Zelia was feeling a bit anxious. At one point she wanted to take things out of a drawer and we found a pacifier. She has NEVER taken one, sometimes walks around with it or is interested in what´s in other´s mouths, but nothing more. That morning she put it in and I have to say 2 weeks later it is still there - so interesting! Anyway, we drove to Bolngarvík to meet Fríki, the boat captain at 4.

Fríki is a fisherman who lived in Grunnavík until he was 10. His family was the last family to leave the area and more to Ísafjörður. He and his wife Sigurós have been running a tourist are for about 11 years. both of them are sweet and welcoming and kind and helpful. It was so wonderful to be in their house and we look forward to seeing them when the summer is over here in Ísafjörður.

So, with the help of some others we got ALL of our stuff on board, not a small amount I might add, bedding and clothing and food for all of us, plus of course Zelia´s little car! We were dressed head to toe in our rain gear and I put a patch behind my ear for the sea sickness. Although others were inside the fishing boat, there was no WAY I was going in there. Jacob was with Zelia inside until she was screaming at which point I took her and she eventually fell asleep. This was not a fun ride. About an hour and 20 minutes later we arrived. It is a beautiful valley with about 6 houses and a church further into the valley. While Jacob waited at the dock for our stuff Zelia and I walked to the house to get warm and dry.

The original house has a bedroom and kitchen downstairs (where Fríki and Sigurós live) and 2 bedrooms upstairs. Then five years ago they built an addition that has a large kitchen, bathroom and shower. It was great because we could make ourselves at home in the other kitchen which was fully stocked. Upstairs in our bedroom we lined the floor with the mattresses and it was very cozy with our quilts. Outside their yard had several old farm and kitchen tools and the best thing ever - a wood burning/heating hot pot!!!! A beautiful wood pot, that gets heated by a fire. The fact that there are practically no trees here poses a bit of a problem, but there is often drift wood and then they also use it to burn their trash as well as Fríki brings wood from the Ísafjörður at times.

In no time we fell into a great routine. Jacob would wake early and try to entice an arctic char out of the river. Eventually Zelia and I would wake and dress and walk to find him. Then we would have a nice breakfast and get ready for a hike with the blueberry pickers. We would head out for about two hours and then come back for lunch and to put Zelia to sleep. She would go to sleep - sometimes we would join for a nap - and we would close the hatch upstairs and then I would knit and Jacob fish. Then after she woke and ate some more, Jacob would begin stoking the hot pot fire and we would hear back out for a walk and more blueberries. Luckily there were many blues everywhere!!!! They weren´t super sweet or flavorful but good enough and it was so fun to watch Zelia learn to pick and eat them. The first day or two we had to feed her, then she would see where they were but would get frustrated and by the last two days we would seat her in a patch and she would happily sit and eat, just like little Sal. I LOVED it. Zelia also had a love affair with Fríki, apparently many children do, but for Zelia this was quite remarkable. She would look for him, ask for him, find his boots and mittens. And one day when he was out for a night with the boat she kept looking for him and his boat. After our afternoon walk we would head back and play, make dinner #1 for Zelia, then all get in the hot pot and then have dinner #2 and put Zelia to bed. Then Jacob and I would play cards, read, fish, knit and head to bed...

Sigurós arrived after two days and she speaks very little English which was great for me! I really got to use a lot of Icelandic and was able to communicate which felt great. She gave Jacob and I a pönnukokur lesson (Icelandic pancakes) and also had us for other baked goods and coffee and tea. What a great woman. Zelia felt so comfortable just walking into their kitchen and eating their food - hahaha.

One day we walked into the valley to the church. We had the keys for it and were able to go in. This must be the sweetest church around. It is in excellent shape and we walked into a small little sanctuary, with light blue ceilings and stars painted above the pulpit area. The benched were all painted the same light blue. There was an old organ inside and Zelia explored and played it for a while. There was even a small balcony there. The state pays to upkeep the church and once a summer they hold a mass there. It was really lovely.

We also explored some of the other abandoned farm houses, some are totally falling down and others were pretty good. We walked to one that was practically intact. We went in and up to the loft where there beds and coffee pots and a note saying to walk through well and to close everything when we leave. On that trip we walked down to the beach from the house and were lucky enough to see two arctic foxes - they were a real chocolate brown and let us get within 6 feet of them - so cute and Zelia kept barking:)

We did not want to leave when the week ended and were quite surprised by how quickly it did!!! We went home on a water taxi on a perfectly calm and clear day - the trip was 30 minutes. We saw some puffins and some dolphins and just were amazed by the striking views. I was profoundly struck by the notion that living here, in Iceland, has given us the opportunity to be the family we truly want to be, that it will forever shape who we are as a family.