Rafael L. Bras
It was the last full day of the trip, and it was absolutely beautiful. After leaving very early in the morning we headed for Snaefellness Peninsula, northwest of Reykjavik. Our stops included a boat trip in the sparkling harbor of Stykkisholmur; a drive around the Snaefells Glacier, where Jules Verne imagined starting his voyage to the center of the Earth; a visit with a family dedicated to preparing shark meat that is essentially cured in the open air (and didn’t taste as bad as it sounds, although the ammonia did come through once in a while); a walk on a black sand beach within extraordinary lava flows; welcoming small fishermen to port and watching as they processed their daily catch; and taking a walk along spectacular cliffs full of nesting birds, which was somewhat nerve-wracking for some of us.
Twelve hours after departing, we were a hungry crowd descending on a small, isolated hotel by a river that caters to wild salmon fishermen during the summer. It was dusk; everybody was tired, yet awed by the sights we had seen.
But the students wanted more. “We don’t want to leave Iceland without seeing the northern lights,” they said. That is one spectacle we could not control. But as we walked back out into the darkness, there it was: the Aurora Borealis, at least a faint one. And 30 minutes later, the real show began. A cooperative—and extraordinarily good—bus driver pulled off the road so that 60 excited people could go out into the darkness to see the skies dance. The lights changed hues, appearing and disappearing in the starry night. At one point I looked and there were all the students in a circle, most standing, some lying down, all hypnotized by the overpowering sky that graciously answered their prayers.
Yes, the Icelandic gods were alive and well and provided a most fitting end to the adventures of our tribe. It was magical!