The weather continues. At 8am it was cool and totally overcast. It's now warm (over 17°C) and sunny, with most of the overcast having been blown to the east. I'll probably recognize it in three days when it hits Germany.
Since I missed the chance to ask the Icelandic couples if they had any more with them, I went to fish shop below the guesthouse and got some harðfiskur. The shop had a lot of very nice stuff on offer, even if the counter only used less than 1/8 of the floor area which was, save for two shelves, empty. Unfortunately, I was on my way out and not planning on cooking today. Still, it's nice to know there's a bit more selection than just what 10-11 and some other supermarket happen to have.
I noticed two bowls filled with very strange looking bits and I asked the girl what they were. While she had a translation list for every fish name, she didn't have these bits on there, so she sort of gestured and tried to explain what Gellur and Kinnar were. From what we worked out, Gellur were gills or something in that area while Kinnar are fish cheeks. No, really.
Then I asked her how these bits are normally cooked. We played more charades and I got that you normally mix them with veg and stuff and make a soup or goulash or casserole out of 'em, but you can boil 'em, too. I got a couple of each to try. While waiting for the water to boil, I went back downstairs and asked which fish they come from. "Þorskur." Big help. We looked at the list and found cod. I've had cod livers so maybe this won't be so bad. Did they have cod livers? <empty look> <more charades> No. So I went back up to boil them with no idea how long to do it for.
Results: boiled they were pleasant enough but they were much nicer fried in a bit of oil. I tried using the butter and found it wasn't butter but a spread, one that quickly lost all its water and became a sticky goo to be scrubbed out of the pan. I think if you eat these things plain they should breaded with fine cornmeal or at least flour. While waiting for the water to boil (it took a while), I went on-line and finally found out that kinnar are indeed cheeks and that gellur are fish tongues. I really didn't know fish had tongues. The cheeks have a nicer texture and the tongues are pretty salty. The verdict: not disgusting, but terribly Icelandic.
Konwing I'm going back to Paddy's tonight, and plan to leave for the airport at 5:00 a.m., I repacked my suitcases. The big one's way over 32kg but I have a feeling they'll let me slide. Either that or I'll ask for a box and re-repack at the airport. I only have one suitcase -- the other is a carry-on -- so I still have unused baggage allowance.
Afterwards I went walking around some more. Architectural similarities between buildings must be illegal here. I'll get someone there to confirm it for me.
I walked all the way up to the end of Hafnargata to where the inevitable docks were and found more interesting ground formations to stare in awe at. The dock area had a number of industrial shed-like buildings and I walked behind them to the coast. No one seemed to mind, not even the people weighing the huge crates of fish on a truck scale that I almost walked on.
In back of some car repair place I found this bit of land was the last bit not to flow into the water and that you could clearly see how it formed, although I wasn't sure about the massive, more blocky chunk standing about 2m above all the rest of the round flow. It looked climbable. Climbing up on that gave let me find a little patch of orange and grey lichen just starting to get a hold on one bit of rock.
It was low tide and that had also left some pools off to one side. Along with the seaweed in these pools were some strange (to me) gelatinous things. Many small, not-apparently-alive bits the size of your fingertips and some larger, potato-sized things with fluorescent rainbow lines running their lengths. I tried to get a photo of them but have no filters to get the shots through the water. Still, I gave it a go. Not surprisingly, I was less than successful
As I was sitting there on that ocean-battered edge of an 8,000-year-old lava flow, I started thinking about where I was and what I'd done. Inside a week I'd been to geysers and mountains, lakes and rivers, seen a glacier from afar and dipped my hand into the northern parts of the Atlantic. Now here I was sitting where chance had dictated a coastline would be. Before my thoughts could get any mushier, some bird decided to try and chase me off. If there are any birdwatchers who can make out what's in the photo, I'd appreciate the help.
The little bugger chirped at me a bit so I just held still. It kept about 3m away from me at all times and when it saw I'd been sufficiently pacified, bathed and flitted around, maybe in search of some minnows stranded in the pools of water. It wasn't interested in the jelly things.
When I got up to go, it got annoyed and started trying to chirp me into submission. I headed around the edge of the flow, around the corner of the building and saw I could've got through to this place with a lot less walking. Typical.
Around 5:30 I went to Paddy's and while Ó was there, he was on the wrong side of the bar. He said hi and quickly informed people who I was. Clearly a relative of Ægir was in their presence. He was on his way out to shoot pool with a few of the Americans down at the base, but I chatted a bit with the owner and a couple others. It was quiet and I went back to the hotel to write some more and dump photos to my laptops for safety.
Time to finish packing. But first, I went on-line to check mail and a few sites, then wrote some, took a break and read a bit, then got ready to start packing, but I was hungry. I went to the stand across the road for a bottle of soda water. How the guy misunderstood my not-so-poorly pronounced "Sódavatn" as "tvö pylsa með ölli" I'll never know. At least I stopped him from making the second one. The guy looked familiar but it was pretty busy there with a lot of kids hanging out so there wasn't any chance to talk. As he came to me with the hot dog, I was able to also get the water.
I went back to the hotel and got back to writing. I tried to watch the news but couldn't find any captions so understanding it was out. Another channel had an interesting subtitiled BBC documentary about global warming and the Atlantic current ("Conveyer") which I watched. Very interesting and much better than most of the yapping about warming. I have to be up at 4:00a.m.
Surprise, surprise, I didn't make it to bed. I went back to Paddy's around 10p.m. after another quick stop at the 10-11 supermarket for a few more supplies and goodies (like lamb liverwurst and a hunk of Icelandic cheese). I sat with some of the same guys from yesterday and a few new ones. Here I met Hagrid and the guy from the hot dog stand earlier, who reminded me we'd met here last night, but it was too busy to talk. I told him what happened, that I hadn't planned on the hot dog and that was good for a laugh.
Ó got back and told all the newcomers almost in Icelandic saga style about this great stranger upon whom Oðin must smile, who came to the land knowing no one, who could pronounce the name of the beer correctly, who liked Brennevín, who had tasted of the hákarl, and who, having been in the city not 10 hours, had procured the finest pieces of harðfiskur ever known in Keflavík. We drank.
Ó told me about what I'd missed when I'd gone off for the fish yesterday. There was a barfight. In his bar. It was the kids who'd tried to run down the soldier guys. Who turned out to be sailor guys. Navy police (not MPs). These guys cannot afford to get into trouble and will always avoid a fight if possible. The idiot drunks came into the bar and Ó dealt with them. With extreme prejudice and brutality. This is the same guy who played mercy for drinks with another guy who has no feeling in one hand and arm. Vikings.
Last night in the bar I thought I saw cops getting a report from victims. What I actually saw was cops talking to other cops -- local police talking to Navy police - which is why it all went so smoothly and quietly.
The group of us sat around and started taking the piss, starting with the weather here ("We get some mild breezes in winter," "Rain falls sideways", etc.), covered Pratchett, Addams and Gaiman, and went full force into the jokes. Some of my adventures this past week brought out the biggest laughs.
A couple women showed up and started talking with Ó, who later told me that I should stick around and get laid tonight. While the women were nice enough, they were about my height and twice my size. Furthermore, I had three hours left before I had to get to the airport. I apologized. The women kept playing with my hair, one demanding I let it down and the other insisting I tie it back.
At around 1:00 a.m. (closing time, but who was counting?), I think Hanni told me another guy was headed back to his garage to play guitar and we were invited. Off we went. After the beers were finished, of course. We spent some time kicking around, but the lack of alcohol was disturbing. I asked for a ride back to the hotel so I could pick up the half bottle of voddie. It turned out to be only 1/3 of a bottle, but that was good enough. On the way back, I was treated to one last pylsa (með ölli the way Oðin intended). And a Coke. Which went well with the vodka. In this little garage room we sat and drank and played guitars and shot the shit and I added my graffiti to the wall, though I forget what the hell I wrote.
Unfortunately, while relief from excess beer consumption was available around the corner of the garage, no such similar suitable arrangements could be made for the continuing results of the hákarl and pylsa. It was around 4:30 and I got a ride to the hotel with Hagrid who said he's going straight to work. Good luck.
Update: he didn't make it. See his comment in the Preface
I got in and the alarm clock was beeping away. I was buzzed. I was tired. I had 15 minutes to finish packing. I began to yawn as a knock on my door was followed by a voice informing me we leave for the airport in five minutes.
I'm an idiot.
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