Djúpavík // La Mecca

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When κ, α & I arrived at the car renting agency in Reykjavik to pick up our 4×4, the 2 guys working there looked for a moment at how tiny we were.

They asked where we were heading with a doubtful question mark in their voice. We said that our ultimate goal was Djúpavík, a lost hamlet in the north west peninsula of Iceland. They gave us a bunch of instructions on how to drive on ice, on snow, on pebbles, on mountain roads. Feels like they were worried not to see the 4×4 again.

Off we were to northern adventures in OUR car. We stopped for a couple of nights on the way, visited an ice cream factory supported by volcano energy and adored the poetry of it.

On the last day of Winter (end of April for the Vikings), we stopped in Borgarnes where we were strongly recommended by a lady who was a huge fan of Paul Oscar (the Icelandic equivalent of… Peter Andre?) not to drive further up north. She showed us the official website of Icelandic roads, and most of them were closed due to weather conditions. She called Djúpavík hotel on our behalf to cancel our night.

But the trip wouldn’t feel complete without seeing Djúpavík because we had been fantasising it since day 1. In only a few days, it had become our Mecca, the one place to see before you die.

So on the first day of Summer, we hit the road anyway.

It was the most intense journey we all ever lived. The more north we were getting, the more lost in white.

Nothingness and white. Sometimes after a curve, the insolent green of a far away fjord would blind us as if we had already forgotten about colour.

As the hours were passing, the road was getting narrower and whiter. The snow hadn’t been cleared. We were directly overlooking the cliffs – no security barrier whatsoever. I can’t remember how long this lasted, but it felt like a lifetime, another time/space dimension. We were several hours without speaking at all, just all gathering our meditations not to die, to make it to the next bend, to the next bump on the road. To the safe.

Everytime we were seeing a hut ahead, we were all secretly hoping: Djúpavík? But Djúpavík wasn’t in sight.

There was a point that we lost hope to ever reach it. We thought of going backwards, we thought we got lost. We decided to carry on just a bit more.

And there it was. No possible mistake.

We had reached our Mecca, our El Dorado, our enchanted land. It wouldn’t have surprised us much to see unicorns drinking the water of the bay.

We cartwheeled on the snow and knocked the door of the hotel. A beautiful lady welcomed us: “Your rooms are not ready, I wasn’t expecting you.” We were the only customers in the hotel, and the only living souls in Djúpavík along with the couple of owners and their dog Freya.

That’s the happiest I’ve ever been to arrive somewhere. That’s the most desired destination I’ve ever wanted to see with my own eyes.

It is not until months later that I talked about that journey again with α, and we both agreed that it was the closest to death we ever felt.

But God was it worth the risk.

Soaking With The Vikings

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Out of the blue, I brought my ass to Reykjavik last November for the Air Waves Festival to catch up with H, but as her fiancé cat fell sick, she cancelled and I had to improvise making friends every day.

It was my third visit to Mother Iceland in a year. I knew She would give me the hug I needed, and as usual it went far beyond my expectations.

Air Waves is gigs night and day in every single building of the Capital, bumping into the same people all the time although the population of Iceland probably triples over the week of the festival. Listening to awesome music, listening to awful music. Reading in the newspapers that Björk was in the crowd of that gig where you were too. Finding yourself in hot tub with the band that you saw playing the day before and not knowing how to tell them that you really thought they suck.

After a couple of days in town, I got the call for the wild.

I woke up super early to confront the natural elements with a bunch of Vikings I didn’t know: 3 Icelandic guides, 1 Icelandic singer, 9 Norwegian dudes and 1 Swedish girl.

We drove out of town and were thrown in the middle of the snow. White as far as you can see, but the colours of Iceland are way more vivid than on any other continent. The sky is more blue and the sun is brighter. Even the snow is more white. It is overwhelming for the senses and forces you to focus on the here & now. The sense of survival gets triggered every moment because you feel that Nature can take over you when She wants.

After an extreme walk (very well equipped of course, I was dressed like Jennifer Beals in Flash Dance and did the “What a Feeling” joke all along the way), we arrived at the ideal hot river spot. Getting in your bikini on the snow is not the easiest thing but I was excited like a kid and gave it a couple of snow cartwheels.

There I was, soaking in a circle of Vikings in burning water with flowing shots of vodka and beer and a private guitar player singing for us under an insolent sun.

For the first time of my life, I was feeling dark-skinned (or kinda orange). Vikings have a skin that you can almost see through and their blondeness is something else. It was cracking me up that the guys were finding me so exotic. I really was feeling like Marilyn in the cult scene of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, although I was the least blonde of the gang.

I walked all the way back tipsy, which made the landscape look even more breathtaking and I was focusing on the beating of my heart not to fall. Heartbeat & nature in sync. We stopped to look at weird natural phenomenons, like muddy holes in the earth with bubbles and weird gases. Typical Iceland wonders.

I worship Mother Iceland. She bombards you with violent sensations of aliveness with no mercy, and you don’t even have to hunt for it.

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Pictures taken and gracefully sent to me by one of the lovely Vikings, edited by my groundbreaking Photoshop skills