Monday, October 7, 2019

Iceland, Day 6 (Thursday, September 5)

Breakfasts were laid out in the kitchen, but we ate in the dining room. On our second day, the couple from Germany was there again and we were joined by a couple from India who were working in Sweden. We got into a lively discussion about U.S. politics sparked by the news that Pence was visiting Iceland. Our host Árni looked a little anxious until we made it clear that we were as appalled as everyone else about the current administration. The German couple, especially, saw the frightening parallels with their own country’s recent history. I’ve been thinking a lot about that conversation as the impeachment hearings proceed. Although I am afraid of how Trump’s following will react, I’m far more terrified of our continued descent into ignorant and hate-fueled racism, misogyny and xenophobia. We need a complete power over-turn. I really do think the only way we’re going to get real change is to dramatically increase the number of women and people of color in positions of power and decision-making.
I tell you, it was hard to leave Laugaból farm to continue on our trip, but we had another long drive ahead of us and headed on out right after breakfast.
Back to the beginning of the Arnarfjörður peninsula and Dynjandi falls. You can see the scale of them from where my husband had climbed up.
We made our way back along the unpaved roads. By the Penna river we saw this mysterious statue. I looked it up when I got home, and discovered that when the bridge was built in 1959, the road workers also built this statue for fun.
After stopping at the gas station at Flókulunder to fuel up, we drove on along the undulating southern coast of the Westfjords. But the car had become sluggish and eventually came to a stop. Dead as a doornail.
This isn't us, but clearly we weren't the only ones with vehicle troubles in Iceland. Earlier in the trip, we passed this unfortunate truck, which had toppled right off the narrow Ring Road. Fortunately, we did not pitch over sideways. We pulled our car to the side of the road and waited in it after we'd called the rental agency. They sent a mechanic out, who didn't bring much of anything in the way of tools.
What they did have was a piece of rope, which they tied to the front of our car and started towing us back along the fjords. It was a bit unnerving.
Back to the Hótel Flókulunder, where we were to wait for a replacement vehicle. And wait. And wait. And wait. Seven hours, all told, from the time we'd contacted them. Since it was supposed to be more like three hours, we sat with our luggage in their lounge, drinking coffee. Incidentally, the coffee was consistently good in Iceland, even in the gas stations. When we mentioned that to Árni at breakfast, he said, "Why wouldn't it always be good?" I don't know, but most American gas stations have really awful coffee. When our new rental car finally arrived, it was late in the evening. We did not want to be traveling the Westfjord roads in the dark and so we stayed there at the hotel.
Our room included big fluffy bathrobes for the geothermal spring we'd visited earlier. We got into our suits and robes and went for a long, relaxing soak at Hellalaug.
Once again, we had it to ourselves and it felt great to let the tension over our travel delay drift away.
Our room was comfortable enough, although insanely overpriced compared to our Airbnb accommodations. We'd already eaten a big late lunch of local trout at the hotel restaurant as we waited for our car, so we had some wine and snacks in our room.
The view out the room's window. Although it was a frustrating experience to have to rearrange our travel, we at least didn't take a hit financially for it. Not only did our Airbnb owner at the place we'd intended to stay refund half our night's fee (which he was not obligated to do), but the rental car company refunded two days on our rental fee. And after we got home, we emailed the $180 bill for our room at the Flókolunder, and the rental car company also refunded us an additional $190!

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