You want to know what I think of Iceland?
Well, my love affair with Iceland, its people and geography started back in 1995. I wanted to see the mid-Atlantic ridge. I figured that the best way to see it was to go to Iceland. I've always liked cold weather, so a March trip to this warm, but chilly part of the world didn't seem so out-of-the-ordinary.
So, I packed up after telling my friends and family that I was on my way to one of the most out-of-the-way places that they could imagine. Knowing me, they weren't surprised, but were still puzzled as to the attraction to this remote, verboten destination.
After arriving, I nestled into a room at Hotel Loftleidir and started selecting my adventures (skimobiling one day, a mid-Atlantic ridge tour another, an amazing ride through Thingvellir in a jeep outfitted with GPS). The ride through Thingvellir was like a glimpse into heaven. The sun struck the back of a distant mountain, with rays so bright, I thought I had passed on into the netherworld.
The magic continued when I asked the tour guide to stop and allow me to drink water from a melting glacier. I figured that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to taste water thousands of years old. Water has never tasted the same.
At that time, the hottest nightlife was at a club in downtown Reyjavik whose name I don't recall. But I do remember meeting some remarkable people with remarkable stories. A fisherman who was the head of his union in town for a conference. Two women but for a night on the town who taught me that Icelanders don't go out to drink, but do that at home before they go out because it was just too expensive to drink at a pub. The highlight of the evening was the Icelandic melody that was a famous folk song that I danced into the night with a remarkable man.
The trip was only 10 days, but seemed like a lifetime because I found myself again. Every night that I lay my head on my pillow and glazed at the moon, bright and full in the night sky, I knew that I had once been an Icelander, a long, long time ago. I felt like I was at home again.
Ever since then, my heart has yearned for Iceland. My friends are now convinced that it is the most magical place on earth after they see the pictures of me, bright eyed, renewed and beaming. They are convinced that this place has transformed the girl they once knew into the person that she wants to become. They too are dreaming of Iceland.
I wanted to return in 1998. Fate would see otherwise. A friend of mine was murdered in Washington, DC and I didn't feel like returning home again. I cancelled my trip and waited for the winds of fate to take me back another time.
So, fast forward to 2005, after 1 year of marriage, my husband and I honeymooned in Iceland! We have promised to take our 1 year there when he is 5 years old, so that he can see where his mom found herself again.
If I lived in Iceland, I always wondered, what would I do? What job would I have? Being an engineer, I am always fascinated with the geothermal technology that Iceland exploits so wisely. Back in 1995, I called the Geothermal Institute there to take a tour and possibly enroll in classes. They refused because I was an American. Now that I am a developer installing geothermal units in subdivisions, perhaps they will reconsider...But I still think of Iceland as home and a place where I can always find myself again.
Warmly submitted, Dr. PJ Denney