Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 7: July 2, 2011

We spent the day on Heimaey in the Westman Islands - population around 4,000. The place is rugged and the people are used to adversity. In 1973, the local Eldfell volcano erupted, covering the island with flowing lava and about 12 feet of black ash. Most of the residents were evacuated, but a few stayed behind to fight the lava and rescue their homes. After about four months, the volcano quieted, and residents returned to rebuild. Sho, Saya and I watched a local film with dramatic footage from the event.

The Westman Island chain also contains Surtsey, an island that was created by an undersea volcanic eruption from 1963 - 1967. Visiting the Westman Islands brings you up close to natural forces that are literally forging the surrounding landscape in a dramatic way. As we walked around, I felt a sense of awe at our vulnerability to nature's power.

It was cold, windy and raining all day, but Sho, Saya and I didn't let that keep us from exploring. It seemed fitting to suffer a bit in this rugged place. We enjoyed a local street festival, swam in outdoor heated thermal pools, and even watched a local pro women's soccer game. A dramatic, fog-covered cliff loomed over the field. Most of the residents viewed the game from inside parked cars, honking whenever their team made a good play. But the three of us bundled up and endured the crap weather in good spirits. Sho, a soccer enthusiast, kept up a steady stream of insightful game analysis.

We'll cycle around Heimaey a bit in the morning, then take the ferry back to the mainland.

Here are some pics:

Puffin-themed road signs on Heimaey Island:

Sho with a giant soccer ball marking Heimaey's soccer fields:

A local street festival:

Hardy soccer fans:

The soccer field, with cliff and weather added for extra drama:

- An Iceland Bike Adventure post

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