Friday, August 5, 2011

Day 40: Aug 4, 2011

After consulting with locals and based on our experience to date, we decided not to cycle from Isafjordur through the rest of the west fjords. The jostling on the rough and rocky interior roads would be extremely uncomfortable for Saya. We chose instead to take a bus from Isafjordur to Brjanslaekur, the ferry terminal on the southern coast of the west fjords. From there we will take a boat to Flatey Island and continue cycling to Reykjavik. The next bus from Isafjordur to Brjanslaekur leaves on Saturday morning.

With some unexpected spare time to hang out in Isafjordur, we decided to focus on personal grooming. Sho got a much-needed haircut (see pics), and I shaved off my beard, because I felt like it. Saya approved, saying that I looked "more handsomer" without the facial hair. We also got our bikes tuned up at the sports store Craft, courtesy of the store's owner and Ironman triathlete Kristbjorn (aka Bobbi) Sigurjonsson. When Saya heard about Bobbi's athletic exploits, she challenged him to a downhill race: Bobbi on his bike; Saya on her scooter. "I'm REALLY fast on my scooter," Saya boasted, confident in her ability to win. Bobbi politely declined to take up her challenge.

Eiko, Sho, Saya and I also made a reservation for a nature hike tomorrow with Borea Adventures. The owner, Runar, was in the middle of preparing to lead an 8-day kayaking expedition, but made time to chat with me about our ride. I owe a big thank you to Linda Ramsdell for the introductions to the folks at Craft and Borea Adventures. Linda also introduced me to Aslaug, the owner of a local guest house. Aslaug's place was full, but she arranged for us to stay in a nearby apartment.

Arisa will leave us tomorrow, taking a bus to Reykjavik and returning to Japan. It was a lot of fun to have her on the ride for the past week, and we'll all miss her. It isn't easy to jump into a challenging expedition like this, and she rose to the occasion. She put up with cycling up to 11 hours a day, dangerous winds, cold rain, and smelly riding companions. Congratulations on your accomplishment Arisa!

In the afternoon, we toured the Westfjords Folk Museum, watching a thought-provoking film about the traditional methods of fishing employed over a thousand years in this area before the introduction of motor boats. I was inspired by the hardiness and courage of the fisherman, but intimidated by the hardships of their daily existence. They carried the same stubborn resilience I was drawn to in the arctic terns. Resilience demanded by nature's cruel insouciance. I have become addicted to the comforts of modern living, but am enthralled by the effort required to live more closely aligned with the rhythms of nature. Something feels amiss with urban life, my belly growing soft as I nibble edible food-like substances in front of a computer screen. I desire wealth and consumer goods, obsess over frivolous nice-to-haves, generate mounds of trash, and seem perpetually unsatisfied with what I have. Rather than seek out a life that is sustainable, I am enticed by promises of never-ending economic growth on a planet with finite resources, as if that were possible.

I don't want to suffer as those hardy fishermen did in Iceland's past, but there is some wisdom in their way of living that those of us in congested mega-cities seem to have lost. We spew ever increasing amounts of pollution into the atmosphere and pretend there are no consequences. We hide behind material wealth and political rhetoric to avoid changing our unsustainable status quo. We seem to have lost the urgent sense of vulnerability so palpable in those fishermen. Perhaps collectively we have let hubris replace humility and forgotten just how fragile we all are.

Here are some pics:

Sho's hair before...

...Sho's hair after:

Me with a beard:

Clean shaven and "more handsomer":

Sho with Runar and Megan at Borea Adventures:

Sho and Saya with Bobbi at Craft sports store:

Another beautiful day in Isafjordur:

Sho in the Westfjords Folk Museum:

Arisa and Saya in the museum:

- An Iceland Bike Adventure post


  1. Charles: Flatey Island is nice. Don't miss the amazing mural in the church. But when we were there it was incredibly windy!!! Lot's of Arctic terns, though.

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