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.