The woman who has booked a place in the same room with me arrives in the night with two cats.
This is announced by the hostess of the hostel who comes to gather bedding from the bunk opposite around midnight and is a bit upset. Seeking support she asks me how I feel about cats. I make an indecisive sound. It probably would not be nice to say that I have nothing against the cats but when the human belonging to them sleeps elsewhere then this suits me well. So I have the entire room just for me which is nicer than to share it with a stranger.
The wind that blew waterfalls upwards yesterday has died down. It’s still so foggy and wet that I can find no enthusiasm for a walk somewhere in the mountains.
From the five or so eating and drinking places only two cafés are open. The modern art center is on autumn holiday so no cultural experience today. It’s only possible to read first here and then there.
No-one speaks Icelandic. I hear many times the familiar sentence „I don’t speak Icelandic“, sometimes accompanied by an apology, sometimes by arrogant or proud tone. The decease of not speaking the local language has spread all over the island. Earlier only the capital and the south were affected. Considering that learning Polish has begun I should maybe be glad. If I were a local then I would be annoyed. Then again, many locals say that there would not be enough Icelanders or at least not willing ones to do all the jobs that thousands of Poles, Ukrainians and Lithuanians are doing now.
A few times I’ve tried to joke that everyone should have learned „uwaga“ by now and met with confused glances although Polish „Uwaga!“ stands on signs together with Icelandic „Athugið!“, English „Attention!“, German „Achtung!“ and French „Attention!“ When drying oneself in the swimming pool one has nothing better to read than the manual in five languages about how to clean one’s body.
New learned words include among others Finnish „talikko“ (hay fork) and French „saperlipopette“ (goodness me!). Despite everything I’ve had the chance to speak a decent amount of Icelandic and overcome the fear of speaking.
Although I’ve never been in Iceland in spring, autumn seems to me the best season for travelling around here. Everything is colorful, less tourists, no snow yet and most of the roads still open. Of course some eating and other places have closed. In the ones that are open the prices might be friendlier than in summer. Days end with darkness but there’s a chance to see the northern lights. Blueberries and crow-berries are ripe. It rains more but it rains in all seasons anyway. It might be a bit uncomfortable for camping. Puffins, the favorites of tourist hordes are away at the sea, seagulls and terns represent birdlife. Seals again are always present. An even later visit would mean a chance to participate in RIFF or Reykjavik Airwaves festival.
The trip has been a success also because I’ve been able to avoid Keflavík airport, Reykjavik and circling the island along ringroad or national highway no 1. Eldgjá, Grímsey and Ásbyrgi canyon were especially nice. Strandir has to be visited again and the central part of Hornstrandir has also not been seen yet. And Askja. Some random trails are often cool. Besides I now have a contact to get to go and guard one of the campsites in the eastern fjords for a week. Well, nothing but áfram með smjörið!