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Hacktreks Travel

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters


Diary of Iceland
Graham Stull

Have a doughnut and a D
anish and a coffee strong as spit

Friday, 7:00 am - Keflavik
That speaks of cold
Boldly glistens on the tarmac
Whispers welcome strangely warm
Forms an ever-changing pattern
In the closeness of the sky.
Welcome to Iceland
Welcome to the barren straightway
Road that runs from gateway to the island's only city.
We've framed it just for you -
On the left we poured an ocean's bay
Gleaming silver in the half-suggested light of day.
On the right we laid a strip of... desolation...
At least that's what you'd say.
You would call that desolation, that proudly can
Sustain an Iceland pony's meagre hay.
But never mind, you're new to us
You've yet to learn what lushness means to us.
For now, welcome to Iceland.
Friday, 9:51 am - Nyardvik
Three short days!
So much to see,
So much wild country
To pass in such a hurried haze
These three short days
Of childish energy!
My legs are itching for a walk
That press instead the pedals of my rented car.
Drive me into lands afar!
Where I'll alight in sight of all I seek:
Peace and glee
And golden fleece
And above all else:

Friday 10:22 am - Hveragerdi

Are you so very jet-lagged?
You for whom we've made the welcome true
And hewn a mountain path for you to climb,
To relish in the dew, like rime,
That clings to volcanic rocks and windscreens.
Must you really rest?
Surely no night's sleep compares
To what you now behold, Iceland's
Greenest pastures nestled in a valley.
Come, come,
I'll make a bakery appear, just here on the right,
Neat and clean, with cafe seating and a toilet.
Have a doughnut and a Danish and a coffee strong as spit,
Maybe you should read a bit
Your book about the Iceland farmer who never quit.
Rise us now, like Bjartur,
You have not yet seen my best.
I promise much will happen 'ere you rest.

Friday 11:30 am - Geysir
That is not the Earth;
Those proud bare scrags
Jagged hilltops breaking where the valleys start.
That is not the Earth;
The road that winds between the Autumn grasses,
Their pastures torn apart.
Nor is the Earth
That ocean far behind me,
Whose salty waves and brime,
Like wrapping paper coat the world
In all things maratime.
THIS is the Earth:
A bubbling cauldron form the depths of Hell,
That tells of molten fire beating like a heart.
See it spew a spray of boiling mist! (We gasp)
The slightest spasm of its burning core, nothing more.
It cares not if the tourists' cameras click with curiosity
Or if they step withing the water's reach
And screech in burning agony.
Indifferent too, the bubbling pool of blue-green jewel,
Odour warm with sulphur,
That asks in gurgles random,
How deep am I?
I cannot fathom.
But one thing now I know is clear,
Mother Nature is no fair flower of the Spring.
She is a core of liquid rock,
And where her outstretched finger stirs the top, the air
It's there you'll find a place called 'Geysir'.

Friday 12:40 pm - Gullfloss
Superstition's what they call it,
Viking tales and sagas old
That tell of faeries, elves and trolls.
Now you see the mighty Gullfloss Falls
Where crystal water pounds the rock
To sheets of rising mist and mystery.
This is Iceland's history.
And look! You see that profile
Carved into the cliffside?
See the gaping mouth and eyeless sockets
Seething wild with power
That pitiless a Viking child devour?
Now turn your glance
To where a vapour lifts its spray
See that in the shifting mist exists
A host of dancing creatures, Elves.
That freed, at last exult themselves
In one fast flight to heaven.
They call it Superstition
These so-called men of science
And come with words in Latin
To rob us of our Nordic right;
They who've not spent a single moonlit night
In wary sight of dancing faeries and the Gullfloss Troll
Have stole our legend, thieved our vision
And given us instead their Superstition.

Friday 4:00 pm - Route T37

The desert speaks in tones of eeiry silence.
No trolls live here, I hope
And hope my rented Opel holds together
Along this fading track -
I could turn back -
But oh! what a view.
The untamed mountains, wild beyond nature,
Upon which is perched a Glacier
See, it bursts into the valley
Then issues forth a lake of nearly frozen pureness.
Stop. This hut atop the hill
Equipped with bunks and filled with Glacial views
Built to use in case of jet-lag.
Here I'll unfurl my sleeping bag
For today I'll go no further.
Friday 6:00 pm - Hvitarvatn
They're coming
At the window panes, the party
Their hearty Nordic frames
They ride on auburn ponies
Iceland's proudest sons
Gather sheep and sleep in huts like this one.
Did I day sleep?
Here's Ole and Ardur and a case of beer and liquor.
Come join us for a dring or eight
There'll be no sleep at any rate
Until the perfect moon has cast its parting glimmer
On the ice of Langjokull.
We will sing tonight
And dance and eat boiled sheepshead
And will not sleep, but laugh and joke and brag
And you'll forget there ever was a thing called jet-lag.

Saturday 10:30 am - Route T37

My stomach groans in protest
My temples pound in protest
My rented Opel creaks in protest
As the road grows worse and worse
The price I pay seems high today
But the memory of revelry
Will far outlast these morning-after ailments.
How long 'til Hveravellir is reached?
This eternal path of potholes be damned!
I need some bread, some water and a break.
There. Now I see it, rising geysir steam
A shack or two, the promise of a road improved
And food.

Saturday 12:00 noon - Hveravellir

Can even dreams perceive this kind of peace?
To lie half-naked in a clear blue pool, a hot spring bath
While silent snowflaks melt against your steaming face
And into snow-capped highlands runs the wandering path.
Iceland's greatest treasure is its peace, it seems
In such a place we live beyond our dreams.

Saturday 3:00 pm - Blonduos
Receding mountains
Speeding roads
And all at once
The coast explodes,
Fjords of water, fingers now unwind,
That leave the lava desert far behind.
Little village clinging to a shore
A score of houses on an ocean striking
A fishing boat and a pub names Viking
And a guesthouse with a pillow soft as rest,
And as comfortable
As only deep and dreamless sleep can be.

Sunday 10:30 am - Route 1
Soak it in!
The last time I'll enjoy this weekend spectacle.
The she-troll's gorge
Volcanoes forges and fading
Their blackened memory pervading
Mocks the grass and flowered greenery
Scarred with rocks and smitten scenery.
Drink it in!
Crystal pure, its gushing source
Where all the water in the world begins
Trickles, falls in fickle sprawls
Ever downward with enduring force.
Now pause to wet my wind-cracked lips
In ample sips
A momentary detour from its everlasting course.
Breathe it in!
What air was always meant to be
Where no debris, nor dust, nor industry
Has sullied these chill gusts
That thrust in heavy gulps upon my lungs
The welcome must of inhalation.
I almost fear to leave you, Iceland,
Though the road cuts south
And straight away along the ocean's mouth
Into the bay they call 'Reykyavik'.
Let me stop at one last scenic view
To soak and drink and breathe and plead
That you embue in me a tenth, a hundreth even
Of this perfect paradise.

Monday 3:00 pm - Kalfatjorn
Come out of that tent, you lazy tramp!
Greet your spectral guests
That dance in moonlit circles
Round your makeshift camp.
They are faeries, magic imps
Summoned from the sprigs of heather
Called together from the regions nether
To haunt you in that tent you tethered.
Was I their summoner?
No, not I (though such powers I possess)
Rather, it was a lesser sorceress.
The Celtic witch called Columkill
Who through countless spell's enchantment
Has earned dominion o'er this hill
And o'er your meagre night's encampment.
She ordered up this ghostly host
Perhaps because you're Irish too
To bid farewell to one who came
And knew a place where spirits dwell
In every dell, on every mountain face
Atop the Glacier and along the strand
That forms the paegan soul of Iceland.
We will spend this last night with you
In frenzied revelry aglow
Atop the witch's hill that frowns
Upon the little coastal towns below.
And when the down emerges
Propelling from the Eastern sea the newborn sun
We'll be dispelled, our magic done.
The day will carry you away from our strange company
And into the sky
And so I whisper now
With half-heard mystery, like a sudden whisp of cloud
My last goodbye.

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