Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

Still somehow not there

After leaving my house about 30 hours ago – a drive, a train, and a walk – leaving Amy’s about 20 hours ago – a walk, a train; a bus to NYC, a train, a plane across the Atlantic, a bus and another bus, I’m finally in my hostel in Reykjavik. It is 0830 and check in isn’t until 1400. I’m stuck still living out of a daypack with all my expensive items, no shower, and no bed. I’m running on about a collected 4 hours of sleep in the past day, and that is precisely how I feel.

Initial impressions:

Iceland, for being the greener of Iceland and Greenland, is still cold. 48F right now. In June. With 20 hours of “sunlight” a day.

Also, it is cloudy. In some open parts of the sky you can see past the low hanging clouds to slightly more distant ones. But it currently makes Seattle look like Fiji.


In the duty free shop in JFK, the cashier, the girl behind me, and I started discussing one of my purchases – tequila. (This purchase will surely come back to haunt me, as a future post will explain, yet I purchased it anyway.) They had a bottle open for tasting, and since it is impolite to let someone drink alone, I joined up for another round. I’d already tried the silver and gold on an empty stomach about 30 minutes ago. This third pour was heavy handed and lasted me 10 minutes. The girl downed it in one gulp, unaware of the rules of decorum in such a situation. The cashier, seeing a long piece of string on the ground, decided the appropriate course of action was Cat’s Cradle. She and the girl went back and forth with this while we all gave the obvious who-are-you-and-where-are-you-from bits with some snark. Julia was a long-timer at the duty free shop, a middle aged woman with the fun energy of an adolescent. The other girl was a high school teacher from Ohio on her way to spend the summer with her boy in France. She probably had a rough first week of teaching with other teachers asking where her hall pass was – she had that youthful look. The liquor started to hit.

Because she had shot the first one, Julia poured her another one, heavy, for sipping, which on account of mounting drunkenness was shortly passed to me to make my fourth. It was at least past 5 when this whole thing went down. But being heavy-tipsy, hungry, and then sobering up on a plane, and unable to really sleep or shower afterwards is likely not helping my comfort in my skin. On the other hand, this was far and away the most interesting duty free experience – and possibly store alcohol tasting experience – I’ve had.

Upon declaring my extra liter of liquor at customs, I was charged more in import taxes than the cost of the bottle. That still likely keeps it cheaper than buying a bottle here. But the lesson is clear – skip customs the next time around and declare nothing.

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This entry was posted on June 16, 2010 by in Iceland.

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