We made it to Iceland, our first overseas trip since the outbreak of Covid more than a year ago. Traveling these days is quite different, replete with many new experiences. Once such experience is getting into a country. Iceland allowed us past passport control with just proof of vaccination. But to do anything other than stay in the airport (a la Tom Hanks in “The Terminal”) we needed to get a Covid Test. As you may know, I am a savvy and fearless traveler, but this frightened me. After waiting in line for a long time, it was my turn for the test.

“Back to the wall!”, the Icelandic nurse ordered. I did what I was told. “Open up and say ahhh”. Before I knew what was happening, a foot-long pole was going down my throat. I started gagging and coughing. “Hold still!” I couldn’t and she removed the weapon knowing that she would be wearing my breakfast. “I’ll have to do this again.” I thought if I clenched my mouth shut, she would just pinch my nose. So, I opened up slowly and closed my eyes. With the uvula extraction complete my nurse reached for another swab. It is amazing how far a foot-long swab can reach into the depths of my brain. She poked and prodded, scraping a lot of my grey matter, when she removed the swab and said, “now for the other nostril”.  How much could I bribe her to stop with only one nostril complete? She must do her job for sheer pleasure as money didn’t talk.

Test complete. No Covid. Free to roam the country, which I will now call home. In no way will I return to the United States as long as their policy requires that I need a Covid test for re-entry. I like it here just fine, thank you. Please call me “Olav” from now on.

Now that we are able to move about the country, our first stop is the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula, just an hour from Reykjavik. It’s a 2.4 mile hike with steep ascents over lava rocks. Not even out of the parking lot we bumped into a couple that looked ragged. Perhaps the hike is more difficult than we can handle. How was it, I asked? “Very interesting but quite cloudy. We could only see some rivers of lava.” Perfect, I want to see rivers of lava.

Close to two miles in, sweat pouring from every pore, we came across a nice Icelandic lady (she is obviously not a nurse from the airport). She notices our camera gear and says, “let me give you a tip. Once you get to the top of this hill, hike to the left a bit. There you will have an unfettered look at the crater.” After another heart-pounding ascent, we finally made it to the top where there was a lot more than rivers of lava.

We could feel the heat from the eruption.

This volcano erupted every ten minutes or so, kind of like Old Faithful.

Rivers of molten lava at the base of the crater. I would have been happy if this is all I saw.

Ripples of cooling lava formed below us keeping us warm despite the wind. [Photo by Kathryn]

Watching this volcano erupt was magnificent. It almost made me forget the excruciating couple of hours at the airport. Almost.

Remember, it’s all about the light!

Kathryn and Jeff waiting for the next eruption