(On the evening of May 2nd) I had finally made the call to hit the road by Sunday the 4th. I told Sigrun and she offered to let me come back and stay any time if I find myself in Reykjavik again in the next 6 weeks. I also decided to attempt sleeping in the car while still at their house so that I could come inside if I got too cold.
Yeah… I was immediately too cold. But in my typical stubborn nature I forced myself to stick it out so that I could truly experience it. I’ve never in my life had to sleep in that severe of cold and I felt like it was something I needed to do, why shouldn’t I experience it? I figured it’d be good for the soul.
I piled my coat, my hoodies and my clothes bag on top of me trying to stay warm. I turned on an audio book and tried to distract myself from how hard I was shivering. Every time I’d wake up hoping it was finally morning, I’d have only slept for 30-40 minutes. At one point I opened my eyes for a split second to check my phone and I thought it said 9:39. Woohoo! I thought. Mission accomplished! Now can get up and get moving soon! Because, you see, stores don’t open until 11am and my plan was to stick it out until it was time to run some errands. But, alas, I had looked at the clock upside down in my grogginess and it was only 6:36. Curses.
Several chapters into my Bossy Pants, by Tina Fey audio book it was finally time to get up. I got dressed, ducked inside the house to use the toilet and try to fix my disheveled hair (hooray for my new hat!), then headed down to the flea market on the harbor to see if I couldn’t find an affordable supplemental blanket or a camping cook-stove. I walked as fast as my legs could carry me to warm up and felt happy and toasty within 15 minutes.
No luck at the flea market, unfortunately, but I saw lots of neat trinkets, fresh foods and wool products. It was a neat place and not surprisingly it was nearly no different from flea markets back home. I found some badass aviator goggles at a surplus military booth that I was tempted to get just for fun 😉
Next, I hit up the tourist hut near city center to pick up some postcards and stamps, then I found a camping store to get a little butane stove so I could make soups and hot drinks while camping to keep my spirits up. I had priced them out at home and assumed I’d be able to buy one in Reykjavik for nearly the same amount… I was dead wrong. The stove ended up costing twice as much, but I had to remind myself that I couldn’t have known, and it’s still cheaper than staying in a hostel. Plus, now I have a cool little stove to take home for camping in the Rocky Mountains too!
Now that all my errands were finished I excitedly went over to Cafe Babalu, my favorite of all the cafes I’ve checked out yet, for a hot drink and something filling to eat. Being at Babalu’s feels like being at a quirky, loving grandmother’s house who wears coral red lipstick, plays American classic boogie-woogie and dances while she bakes cookies. Not sure why it’s such a distinct feeling.
I had made good progress on blogging and photo editing when Andy joined me for lunch and then he headed off for whatever he had planned for the day.
Just as Andy left, as I was thinking maybe I’d pack up and run to IKEA for a blanket and then come back here for another round of coffee, the barista came out into the seating area and said to the room “I’ve made a mistake and made a latte instead of an Americano. Would anyone like a free latte?”. In my head, I was screaming like Braveheart and climbing over the bodies of fellow tourists to get to that latte first, but instead I politely raised my hand and said “Um, if no one else wants it, I will.” Now imagine Braveheart, covered in battle wounds, sipping his latte with a dainty pinky up – because that’s how I felt.
With my new hot latte I had more time to work and talk to Jason for a good hour on Skype. Oh my goodness! We had only been able to talk for a few minutes at a time all week (and during most of that I had been a bit weepy and homesick so no quality conversation had taken place) so the chance to have an extended chat where we both laughed and told stories made me so happy!
I was mentally recharged from hearing from my sweet hubby so I decided to try my hand at finding IKEA. When I stopped by Sigrun’s to tell her where I was headed and to see if she wanted me to pick anything up for that evening’s party, the house was filled with the smell of chocolate chip cookies and she and Andy were cuddled on the couch watching a show on their iPad. It was such lovely domestic scene, it warmed my heart.
It was pouring rain the entire 35 minute trip to IKEA and as I pulled in to the parking lot I realized just how big this place is. Intimidated, but not disheartened, I ran through the rain and confidently entered the store – through the wrong door. They frustratedly ushered me to the other side of the checkouts to get where I needed to be. Oops, so much for confidence, haha! I weaved my way through the bowels of the mammoth and couldn’t decide if I loved the place or hated it. I don’t like crowds, nor big box stores, but the place was so organized and efficient and they had some charming items for a lower price than expected. (Friends at home: yes, you can expect to partake in an IKEA road trip when I return!)
I eventually found the blanket I was looking for. I decided to get the warmest down comforter they had in stock just to save myself from another night of misery – and I figured, again, that buying this was still much more affordable than staying in a hostel and I got to take it home. I reasoned that since the sleeping bag was not warm enough to be useful in Colorado that I would leave it here with Sigrun if she wanted it so they could offer it to their next couch surfers! Win-win.
I arrived back at Sigrun’s in time to squeeze in a shower. I was getting extremely nervous about hitting the road tomorrow and decided to skip the party so I could do some planning. Sigrun and Andy were gracious about me ducking out of the party, and Sigrun and I ran back down to where I had hung the piece of street art because during my morning trip to the harbor I noticed the corner had come loose in the wind and rain already. I made a thicker adhesive and hoped a good second coat would help it last longer.
We returned just before the party was supposed to start and pretty soon Joanna arrived, and then more lovely people arrived, and before I knew it, it was a party and I had forgotten to be nervous about tomorrow and decided to stay. Everyone was so jolly and friendly. Joanna and Stu, the lovely couple we had gone to the protests with, Sigrun’s Viking-esque cousin and his hilarious girlfriend, a gorgeous couple from Denver and Boston and their brilliant friend from Poland who is volunteering in Iceland right now, two of Sigrun’s warm and wonderful Icelandic friends, one of whom works in the largest fishery in Iceland… though now I’m having trouble remembering the name of it, and another of her Swedish friends who is a gymnast and children’s coach. I drank “shitty Viking beer” as Andy called it, which made me laugh! It tasted just like shitty American beer and it gets you just as drunk. We laughed and talked late into the night (late for me, but not for them!). They all have a wonderful sense of humor and were completely entertaining. We talked about global politics, differences between our countries, discussed economics, human rights… it was wonderful. No small talk, all substantial topics and even though not everyone agreed on opinions there was no heated discussion. I learned more about the US native american history and current events than I’ve probably learned in my entire life. A humbling reminder how small and shielding our own little pockets of the world can be and how important it is to remember we’re all tiny ants trying to survive together on this magmatic, volatile rock hurtling through space. We forget this when we don’t venture out and connect with people of different circumstances.
Finally, when the group decided to continue the night at a dance club, this old fuddy-duddy went to bed around 12:45am in the car with my new IKEA comforter. It had been a truly beautiful day, and I fell asleep smiling.
**SIDE NOTE for any of you who are religiously following this adventure: Now that I’m out of the city the equipment recharging spots and wireless internet availability are coming far and fewer between so I will continue to write daily but may not post anything for several days. And you may get several posts thrown at you at once. There will also probably be more iPhone snapshots instead of good images included in the blog because my editing software eats through my computer’s battery faster than anything. But you can of course look forward to seeing the good images either once I find a good place to work for a few days or after I return home. I will try to post updates on my personal or my Lucky Brake Ltd. Facebook page any time I get a 3G signal on my phone, so go ahead and follow Lucky Brake Ltd. and/or Alanna Brake for those updates if you haven’t already.