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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Walkabout: Vik and Iceland’s South Coast - Page 2

Written by William Carne
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The first hotel is full. They tell me to try another place. I hurry over there. It’s full too. My back is sweating under the pack’s weight. My steps have started to slow. Someone points me to “the last place in town.” It’s way down the road, close to the beach and seems miles away. The sun is getting lower. The light is getting duller. The white walls of the church have stopped reflecting, and I’m losing precious time. The plane ticket to Amsterdam looms over my head: Three days, three days, three days. I want to be free, and my extra energy begins to fade.

I kick a stone as I walk. It’s my second day and I can’t even find a place to sleep. How am I going to handle jungles in South America and deserts in the Middle East if I can’t even find a hotel room in Iceland?

But the last hotel in town has one last room available; Literally the last bed in Vik. I unload my bag and stroll back to the open field, defeated. The sky is bloodied with clouds, and the land blanketed with flowers. The sun lies ahead of me, at the valley’s mouth, but the incline of the ground is too steep for me to see it. My shoes brush through the tiny flowers like a boat cutting through waves. I charge forward, refueled. I can’t afford to waste another second. I only have three days.

I climb rise after rise, each time thinking it will bring me the view I know is ahead of me. But each time the horizon gets pushed back further. The flowers are beautiful, but I want the midnight sun. Iceland lies on the border of the Arctic Circle, and the sun doesn’t set in summer, it just hovers along the horizon and heads back up again.

A cool wind is in my hair. My shoes are wet with dew from the grass. Dew at midnight? I have to tell myself that eventually I’ll climb over a rise and it’ll be the last one. It could be this one. It’s not.

With cramping stomach and tired legs, the last rise comes and the sun shines out at me from between the valley’s cliffs. It turns a distant glacier orange and paints the grass in front of me with liquid gold. Breathing hard, I sit in the damp brush and watch. Hours pass. The sun hides behind the cliffs in the distance. The red clouds fade to yellow. They’ll stay that color for hours. It’s 3 am. The time I watched the midnight sun.

The next morning I set to work making my first inuksuk. The inuksuk (or inukshuk), is an ancient Inuit practice and has been in wide use from Alaska to Greenland. It’s a simple sculpture that uses any rocks at hand. The rocks are carefully stacked and balanced using one-another’s weight to form a surprisingly sturdy monument. They’re used for marking food, sending messages, or perhaps most frequently, to mark a trail.

Being something of a romantic soul, I stumbled upon the idea of using Inuksuks to mark my trail— one for every country, so I can always find my path back home.

I stand on Vik’s black sand beach looking with pride at my first attempt. A sickly little thing, balancing shakily on its two base stones. The first stiff breeze to come along will probably knock it over, if the neighborhood kids don’t see it first.

(Page 2 of 3)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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