The fantabulous Snorri-2012 group has departed after a 6-week successful adventure in Iceland. The last night was spent at the Northern Light Inn where Halldór Árnason, Chairman of the Snorri Foundation, graduated all 16 participants. They presented their final assignments on various topics such as: Whaling in Iceland, the Icelandic Language, what it is like to be a Canadian Icelander, the meaning of family, Kaffi (coffee), broken clocks and the Icelandic spirit.
13 out of 16 participants are now back at home but 3 are staying a bit longer visiting more family.
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for fantastic 6 weeks! TAKK!
After bathing in a natural hot spring at Hveravellir (highlands) we drove further north, all the way up to Hofsós. The road was not as bumpy and we got there earlier than planned. It was still a long day but still sunny and it was great eating Dídí's homemade meatballs and fish at Sólvík Restaurant.
The next day we had a full day at the Emigration Center at Hofsós, the weather was beautiful and everybody was happy. Nelson Gerrard, Historian from Riverton, made them fill out their family trees and gave them a thorough tour of his exhibit, Silent Flashes. Some of the Snorris found a picture of a gr. grandfather or a gr. gr. grandmother. In the afternoon everybody went swimming at the most beautiful swimming pools in Iceland, if not the world. It was so sunny that some of us got a sunburn.
The next day we said goodbye to Hofsós and drove to the other side of Skagafjörður, to Reykir. The sun was not shining but it was warmer than the day before. The boat ride to Drangey Island was only a half hour and we all climbed on top without much difficulty. "The Puffin Caretaker" told everyone a story of Grettir the Strong who was an outlaw on the island (2011 group know whom I am referring to). "If you had told me that the view was so great from the island I would have put on my make-up," one of the girls said.
The next day, yesterday, we woke up in Vestur-Húnavatnasýsla. It was raining but nice, and beautiful Icelandic horses were waiting for us at Gauksmýri farm. They were very professional over there and we all arrived back safely after about an hour's ride.
It stopped raining and we had our last picnic at Skallagrímur's park in Borgarnes before heading back to the city to pick up all the luggage that wasn't needed for the tour. My husband needed to pick up four bags because both trailer and bus were packed!
Graduation ceremony was very successful. The Snorris all presented their diverse final assignments and Halldór Árnason, Chair of the Snorri Foundation, graduated all 16 Snorri-2012 participants. Wonderful last dinner with Snorris and board members and off to the Blue Lagoon we went!
Everyone is packing right now, getting ready for Keflavík International....
We have now been traveling since Saturday morning and almost completely without an Internet connection until now. It is so wonderful for everybody to be a little bit disconnected, but feeling so connected to this beautiful land.
On Saturday we headed to the South of Iceland, exploring Þingvellir and Eyjafjallajökull area. We had planned on staying at a community hall but it had been double booked so Ásta, Alexandra's host mom and relative offered us to stay at her house, with most of the group staying in 2 campers outside. Ashley made her wonderful chicken soup and Ásta had a table full of home made deserts for everybody. What a treat!
On Saturday we took the ferry over to the Westman Island - checked into Hreiðrið Guesthouse and went to Herjólfsdalur Valley, Stórhöfði and Eldfell volcano that erupted in 1973 before we went swimming. The next day we went back to the mainland, visited Gullfoss and Geysir, had a picnic in the middle of nowhere and went across the highlands, on Kjölur.....
Fantastic wheather.....incredible sights..... fantabulous group..... More tomorrow plus pics!
All 16 Snorris are now back in Reykjavík after spending three weeks with their host families and volunteering in different communities and farms across Iceland. The three weeks have passed by so quickly and although most, if not all, were sad leaving their host families, they are very happy to reunite in the city of smoke. First three arrived at Reykjavík airport at 9.45 and the last one around 3.30. They are all at Guesthouse Óðinn right now sharing their experiences and we are going to Kex Hostel for dinner.
Joining us tonight are Helgi Gunnar (Snorri 2001) - he is related to two participants this year, Breanna and Katie; and Stefán Þór (Snorri 2011). Helgi is here with his aunts and cousins. Stefán moved to Iceland at the end of June and will be doing his Master's in Iceland. We also got a visit from Megan (Snorri 2006) and her mom Heidi!
Tomorrow at 9 AM we are going on the big tour! Starting at Þingvellir, then Skálholt cathedral, looking at waterfalls, volcano exhibit and making Ashley's home made chicken soup close to Hvolsvöllur in the South.
Alexandra has been staying at a farm near Hvolsvöllur in the south of Iceland, close to Eyjafjallajökull volcano:
"During my stay here I have gotten to know up close some of the farm animals and what makes them different from the ones back home. Not only do I get to experience the different animals, but my experience so far reflects the kind of farm that my dad grew up on in Manitoba! Despite the difference in location I now have a better idea of how he grew up. I've learned and seen so many new things since I've been here. I quickly realized, slowly got over, my fear of being kicked by a cow when milking them. I've sadly seen a dead cow and then seen how adorable new calves are. It's definitely different than what I am used to, but I am enjoying the experience."
Julie is staying in Patreksfjörður (Patró for short) and has been discovering her roots, literally:
"Last weekend my host family took me to Flatey, a small island in Breiðafjörður. Some of my ancestors came from Skáleyar, a nearby group of islands. Knowing that, and having watched the movie Brúðguminn (White Night Wedding), which was filmed on Flatey, I was sad to find out that this year's tour didn't include a trip there. But when my relatives and I were looking at my genealogy book, they asked if I would like to go and of course I said yes! From Patreksfjörður, we drove south to Brjánslækur and took the ferry to Flatey. It was warm and sunny all day - perfect weather for exploring the island. We listened in on choir practice at Flateyarkirkja while admiring the ceiling mural, saw the bókasafn (the oldest library in Iceland), said 'góðan daginn' to all the summer residents who were out painting their houses, and enjoyed the view of Snæfellsnes glacier.
On the way home that night, my host pabbi suddenly stopped the car and pointed to a farm. 'Þetta er Miðhlíð!' he said excitedly. Miðhlíð is the farm where my great-grandfather was born, and as the name suggests, it is nestled between two mountain slopes. It's located along Barðaströnd, on the water, with a view of the open ocean and Snæfellsnes in the distance. A beautiful and surreal moment to end an incredible day!"
Bethany is staying on a farm close to Þórshöfn in North East Iceland:
"Yesterday I got to take part in an important event for an Icelandic family, the baptism of their child. While staying in Iceland, I had the pleasure of living with a family who had a new baby girl. To my surprise I learned that baby's were not given a name at birth like they are in the U.S., but instead the parents spend the time up until the baptism (in this case a month) thinking of the perfect name for their child. The name is kept secret from everyone in the family until the baptism, when all of their friends and family come out to learn the baby's name. So yesterday the baby girl previously known as little one was given the name Asta Rut. I was very fortunate to be able to take part in this event.
Amanda from Seattle is staying with relatives in Þingeyri in the Westfjords:
"The family I'm currently staying with in Þingeyri also has their 4 and 6 year old Grand Daughters from Reykjavík staying with them as well this week. When my host mom Sonja and the girls picked me up in Ísafjörður airport they were occupying themselves in the back of the car counting to 500 in Icelandic. I said that I was jealous of their counting skills and Sonja said "Oh you will learn much Icelandic from them while you're here" I was almost insulted with her implication that little kids were much more at my speed, but it's simply the truth right now. I've been roped into playing many a game of BakTal, which I assume from the picture on the box it means "Back Talk") to which my Grammar and Pronunciation is constantly being corrected by 4 year old Anita. Getting schooled by a child 25 years younger than yourself is a truly humbling experience.
Yesterday I came downstairs to find Anita and Karitas in my room jumping on my bed each holding one of my cameras and mockingly shouting "Ég er Amanda!" (I am Amanda!") over and over and laughing.
Sean from Calgary and Katie from Vancouver are both staying in Borgarfjörður. Sean is in the town of Borgarnes and Katie is on a farm just outside of Borgarnes.
From Sean: "Today I played soccer with kids until one of them found a dead bird. We made it a grave with a headstone that said Rest in Peace, Óskar Páll. We made it a mini coffin out of wood (the kids were making their own shacks out of scrap wood, so their was plenty around) and then carried it to the ocean while they sang Hallelujah (haha). To finish things of we unceremoniously threw the coffin off a bridge into the water."
"I am currently helping my family by cleaning the house from top to bottom for a 70th birthday party next weekend. She asked me to clean the windows so I gathered the bucket, soap and water. After wiping them down I began to dry them with a towel, she looked at me like I was crazy and said "nei nei nei, newspaper!" You can only imagine how confused my face looked. She grabbed a newspaper and said to dry with this. I didn't know what she meant so I did as I was told.. needless to say I think it just spreads the water out to air dry faster, but thats how my Icelandic family dries windows and its a rule of thumb here."
Breanna is staying on a horse farm close to Flúðir, South Iceland. Like many other Icelandic farms they also run a travel service/guesthouse:
"Before coming to Ísland, I had not ridden a horse in 10 years or so because I seemed to always have bad luck with them. When I found out that I would be living on a farm with a horse rental my plan was to keep my distance from the stables. After watching the horses and seeing just how small and gentle they were I agreed to go for a ride. Once I groomed and saddled up Prince, my horse, we were off! Immediately I loved it. Unlike North-American horses the Icelandic ones are graceful, calm and the perfect size. So I faced a fear and made a new best friend.