Iceland: Stage 1 is complete. It looked quite a bit different then we anticipated but our goal of experiencing each country was accomplished. We fought off the traditional American urge to visit everything and know very little about what we were seeing. Our WWOOF host became our historical, horticultural, geological, and cultural tour guide and our original intentions of staying on the farm for one week stretched into nearly three! Here's the run down:
WWOOF Farm: Olvisholt was the family dairy farm before Jon purchased it form his family. Now it is being transformed into a medicinal herb farm. As such we participated in a wide variety of work; collecting hers from the fields, construction/renovation of the barn, processing and packaging of herbal teas, mending fences, planting herbs and trees, and by random chance, participated for a brief distance in a round the island run to promote world peace and harmony in full farm working attire (rubber boots, rain trousers,and European carpenters suit). You can email us for details on the run. It was quite comical.
Our hosts were generous and thoroughly enjoyed answering questions and sharing their knowledge of their country. Our time in Iceland was made much more valuable as result of being in their company.
What We Saw: On our weekends and after leaving the farm we visited a number of fascinating areas. Our accounts will be brief but shoot us an email with questions if you would like to hear more.
We hiked in geothermal areas with powerful steam vents that made the earth rumble, hot, running rivers, boiling mud pots, and pools so hot that we actually boiled half dozen eggs for one of our lunches.
Also included in our treks were some hikes along glacial plains (Skaftafell National Park is located South of Europe's largest glacier and proved to be quite beautiful in spite of the incessant rain), glacial rivers filled with waterfalls, snow covered passes, and mythically carved, moss covered valley (Thorsmork ["Thor's woods"] is a nature reserve that is gorgeous and Tolkien-like in appearance).
In our journeys, mostly accomplished with Corrie's lucky thumb, we encountered Icelanders eager to share their country's history and culture. Icelanders are intensely proud of their country's history (historical Sagas). We found them to be a friendly and helpful lot who would always take you the extra mile or two.
One of our last stops before leaving Iceland was Thingvellir, which lies close to the heart of Iceland's beginnings. This site was the location of meetings where tribal chieftains from across the island would gather to hold court and make decisions regarding the law of the land. It later became the site of the country's first Parliament (modeled from Finland). Coincidentally the location lies directly on top of the North American and European plates, which are slowly separating forming a rift all the way through the island.
While we changed our plans more times that we can count, we enjoyed our time in Iceland immensely. The weather (usually rainy and cold) proved to be some irritation at times, but the sites and culture of the country were worth the extra challenge.

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Click to e-mail Corrie

Click to e-mail Jonathan