June 14, 2010: ICELAND.

By: Caroline Fish

What have I been up to since I jetted off to my first country? Well, it’s an ordinary life.

On the plane to Iceland, I sat next to an ambitious American and a Parisian. The Parisian didn’t know English—I translated. The American was from Vanderbilt, on his way to Paris then Prague then Italy, eventually. He advised me not to watch Marley and Me. I watched it. I cried. He said, “I told you so.” We watched the sun rise over Greenland.

The first thing I did when I got to Iceland was sit on the floor in the handicapped bathroom in the airport and cry. It was 4 am in the USA, and my bank account was empty—something about the time I deposited my check and the time it would be available. I had no idea when I would be able to leave the airport. I eventually left the bathroom. The lady at the bus ticket counter asked me if I liked licorice. I said I did and thanks. Three hours later my reserve fund came through—I Arrival bought a bus ticket; the bus driver said we’d leave when he was ready. … dum, dum dum… Three hours later I hiked up a hill from the bus terminal to where I was staying. The woman introduced me to her cat.

The next day I had my first interview. It was raining. The woman wasn’t home; her twelve-year-old offered me water; interviews I talked to her husband in the living room. She came home. It went well.

June 10: I did two more interviews. 11pm my $150 H2 zoom audio recorder died. Nothing could fix it—new batteries, plugs, pleading. I went to sleep, got up early, researched electronics stores in Reykjavik. I straightened my hair. I walked a few hundred kilometers to buy a new recorder—23,000 Icelandic kronas: aka, a dent in my budget. I walked down to the ocean and found a church along the way. I sat inside the church. I walked back to the City Center. I did two interviews. I bought a sandwich. I rode to the top of the steeple of the tallest building in the center of town. I shared the lift with a couple from Toronto. The woman asked me what I was doing. I said, “Women’s rights.” Her husband rolled his eyes. She said, “Good for you.” He rolled his eyes again.

Saturday, I slept til 2pm, did the dishes, fed the cat. I met a documentarian at 4. She sent me an email later asking if I’d like a copy of her documentary—we agreed to meet Wednesday at noon, by the ducks. The ducks are on the pond in town.

Sunday, I met an Icelander at a café called Paris. He used to work on a glacier. He said I should go whale watching. I ate an early dinner of chicken at a place called Tivoli. They were playing “Baby, it’s cold outside.” It’s June. I went whale watching. We didn’t see any whales. I got distracted talking to an Icelander with a black claw earring. He introduced me to his friends. The announcer said there was a Minke whale—There wasn’t. We went back to Reykjavik. I window-shopped and walked home. I transcribed interviews for 4 hours. Slept. The cat woke me.

I have seven more interviews this week before I leave for the Netherlands. I tell you, work, eat, sleep, live… It’s an ordinary, blessed, and beautiful life.


For other updates– www.carolinashleyabroad.wordpress.com

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