This summer, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Iceland with some friends. This would be the first time I was ever off the North American continent. Hell, it’s almost the only time I’ve been outside of the USA. I have been to Canada a few times, but only to Niagara Falls, and that almost doesn’t count.
My favorite thing about Iceland was … well … everything. I was always an Earth Science/Geology buff in school, and Iceland is a live-action science class.
Prior to our trip, we were searching out adventures, and one of our friends found an excursion where we could actually snorkel along the divergent boundaries of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. When I heard about that, I knew I had to do it.
You know, even though I’d never snorkeled before and can barely stay afloat.
Seriously… I prefer a pool where there’s an edge nearby. I can save myself, but if something happens to you? You’re out of luck. I probably had no business even trying, but why would I let that stop me?
Look at that? Who wouldn’t want to see THAT?
After 2 or 3 days in Iceland, it was finally time for us to go snorkeling. I went with two of our travelling companions, Danny and Cindy, who both had been snorkeling before. They had initially planned on diving in wet suits, but it was a super chilly day (I mean, come on, it was Iceland…), so they decided to do the dry suit like me.
After about sixteen years* of being fitted for suits, snorkels, goggles, flippers, and being instructed on the logistics of our journey, we walked over to where they have you get in the water.
Terrified is not even an adequate word to describe what I was feeling. I am, however, too lazy to google a more acceptable word, so we will stick with terrified. I was terrified.
What if I fell down into the rift and got shot out of a volcanic eruption on the other side of the island, or even the other side of the world?
I know they said I wouldn’t, but what if I accidentally lose the group and end up out to sea with narwhals and shit like that? Oh, wait, it was in a lake. Never mind. But still…
Doing my best to front that all was hunky-dory, I walked down the metal staircase into the coldest water I had ever encountered.
I mean, it is glacial run-off, after all. What did I expect?
A couple things struck me right out of the gate:
- Holy shit this water is super clear. (Clear to a degree that was almost disorienting)
- I am seeing something that is, to me, one of the wonders of the world.
- I have no fucking clue what I’m doing
- I am going to die.
Honestly? I had a rough time with it, at first. In fact, I tried to tell the guide that I wanted to stop. He was so patient. I mean, I’d probably have bitch-slapped me, but he really was there for me and patiently helped, and when I finally got the hang of it, with the Silfra Rift in the background, turned around and gave me two thumbs up. Not one… TWO, dammit.
It will take some doing to top that view.
It was amazingly beautiful down there. Tangible evidence of all the things you learn about in Earth Science class about how our Earth is formed. My only wish is that I had a little more scuba experience prior to going. Then Silfra could have had 100% of my attention and not just 75% while I tried to remember how to breathe.
Iceland is, by far, the best place I have ever been on my very short list of the adventures I have taken. I think it will remain this way even as I accumulate more stories and experiences.
It was very hard to get me to return to the States. They had to tie me up and throw me in a suitcase. Customs raised an eyebrow, but they didn’t want any illegals hanging around Iceland, so they let me on through. That’s a joke, but I’d totally have stayed if the circumstances were right.
I wonder what I’ll see next.
to be continued…
*I like to exaggerate sometimes. Get used to it.