Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bad Traveler's Good Week, day 3

this was a day of almost no ambivalence, which in itself makes it a rarity in my life.  it was a 6-hour tour appropriately called the Golden Circle Afternoon, and it went to several intriguing places.

when i say 'no ambivalence,' i refer to my mind, or my soul, if you want it to sound fancier.  my body was feeling every day of its 67 years, and nagged pretty thoroughly at me.  but i've learned over the years when to listen to the nagging and when to ignore it, or at least compromise.  this was a day of pretty painless compromise.

the first place we stopped was Thingvellir National Park, which offered, among nobler amenities, toilets.  we got off the bus, and i headed for the head [you see how chipper i was], and then came out to stare balefully at the slippery-looking hill that would take us to  a view of the tectonic plates where north america and eurasia meet.  i had, and still have, no concept of what a tectonic plate looks like. the hill looked scary enough that neither my lungs nor my joints would consider it.  though i remain tectonically illiterate, i was fine just walking around the immediate area, watching the snow on the mountains and smelling the pristine air.

on we went to the one thing i did regret missing, the huge glacial waterfall Gullfoss. invisible from the bus, it demanded a walk up yet another slippery-sloping path. i want to see it! whined my soul, so my lungs instantly produced a grand, choking wheeze.  well, i'd seen several waterfalls on the way, and would just have to imagine the giant one. we had about an hour there, time enough to grab a quick bite or even, bypassing the waterfall, a leisurely lunch, to which no body part seemed to object. so i sat there looking out the huge window of the cozy cafeteria and reading my icelandic mystery.  i even  had time to pick up a couple of birthday presents in the adjoining tourist shop--and for myself, a pair of red socks with white letters shouting ICELAND on the sides.

finally, after 15 minutes more of driving past mountains and lakes and oceanic waters, we arrived at the final stop, Geyser hot springs site, to see the spouting geyser Strokker [Geyser geyser itself is inactive these days.]  this i really did want to see.  all around the geyser area were smaller geysers, sending out smoke and small bits of water and mist all over.  totally gorgeous.  but the body was seriously pissed by now, and again there was the 'slippy' hill; further, our tour guide warned us not to stand too close, because Strokker [which spouted every seven minutes] sometimes spat out boiling water.  so if i made it up the slippy hill and could still breathe, i risked getting assaulted by a hostile geyser. i stayed put. we were to meet the bus elsewhere on the grounds, and i went to the bus driver and asked if i could stay on the bus, explaining my asthma.  he was sweet and concerned, assured me it was okay, patted me on the shoulder, and off we went. the new spot was the site of a cafe, where he was going to get some lunch.  after making sure i was all right alone, he left, and i looked out the window....and saw the geyser!  the other people from the bus were already there, looking tiny next to the huge water bursts.  i could see it perfectly from the perched seats of the big bus. it had something of the effect of seeing a great opera from the first row of the second balcony: distant but utterly clear, with no one in front of me blocking my view.  i was ridiculously thrilled.  no question now of courting the surly goddess Awe.  body, mind, and soul were in perfect, serene  harmony.  and as i waited between the great geyser's bursts, i got to watch the  gentle smoke drifts of the small ones in front of me.

got home around 7 p.m., had a pleasant dinner in the hotel restaurant,  read a bit more of the inridason novel, and went to bed early.  i was relaxed, and thus aware of how tight my muscles were, and i drifted off to sleep in luxurious anticipation of the next day's activity--floating in the famed hot waters of the blue lagoon.....

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