Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

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

Two Tours

Friday July 2 –

Today was a day in two parts – the tourist half and the local half.

We started out by taking the Black and Blue tour – a trek through a lava cave followed by snorkeling in the continental divide. It was a fairly expensive tour, but one of those that you just don’t get chances to do at home in DC so we took it.

The cave half didn’t work out too well for three of us. Our headlamps were dim and the ground was a collection of large volcanic rocks that had fallen from the ceiling. Scrambling over them required full attention and some nimble treading. Elena had put a contact lens in backwards and was blind in one eye. Jamie was working on a sprained ankle. I got a nose bleed that wouldn’t clot so I had only one hand free to hold onto rocks. Dan was the only one working at capacity, which might have been countered by the fact that he is tall enough to have to duck for the majority of the tube. I can now say that I’ve been in a lava cave, but that is about all I can say to that.

The snorkeling in 2 degree water was also an experience. In underwear under a down full body suit, under a waterproof layer that clung to the body like we had just been vacuum sealed, wearing flippers three times as long as our feet, neoprene mittens, a neoprene helmet and the goggles, mobility was comical at best on dry land. And for all the layers, the water was still frigid wherever it was able to make contact with skin. Clear water allowing you to see the chasm below is a cool prospect, but fairly one note. Sharp rocks, blue water, and green noodle-shaped plants. And a crick in my neck from trying to squeeze my head through a neck hole the size of my fist. At least having a waterproof camera allowed me to capture the experience for posterity, though the pictures are far from the most exciting ones of the trip.

Part 2 of the day was the significantly cheaper and more interesting local half. We had met a local couch surfer for drinks a couple weeks back and got on well enough to be invited to a BBQ. So after our very cleansing and very hot showers we rolled out to the outskirts of town with burgers and lambchops and bacon and shrimp. We managed to get lost and drive through the ghetto on our way. While I know that every country has a ghetto, I really feel that some countries aren’t allowed to use the term when referring to themselves. Yes, most of Iceland’s murders happen in the ghetto. But one murder every other year does not make it a ghetto. Most nice areas in the US would be happy to only have one murder every other year.

We rolled in to the BBQ, a family dinner with the couch surfer, her brother, his fiancée, and their mother. Pesto fish and gouda stuffed mushrooms, potato salad, green salad, and beer. And a calm evening of sitting around, talking about our various lives and cultures. It was an evening with friends, taking pictures, trying on each others hats and listening to good music. Having not heard familiar music in weeks, it was all the more surprising to find the playlist could have just as easily been mine. And mother is a knitter who had made fantastic Icelandic sweaters for her children. For the cost of getting one in the store, I might be able to get a custom made sweater. With the prospect of 42 degree C days at home, this isn’t a pressing matter. But in 6 months when I’m facing 42 degree F days, that wool is looking pretty tempting.

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This entry was posted on July 2, 2010 by in Iceland.

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