We travel and all civilization falls away, we seem to have the country to ourselves.
We arrive at our lodging for the night, a motel type affair in the highlands. We are advised that we will be two to a room. We are fine with this as we always share a room. We secure our key, find our room and take a deep breath. John opens the door to a dormitory type affair, two single beds and not much else. Still, it will only be us tonight. I’m giddy with the thought of finally getting some sleep.
Single showers and bathrooms are just down the hall though privacy is possible. We have brought a pack towel, a washcloth sized affair which makes drying ourselves a lengthy venture. Perhaps if we were the size of a small cat this would be more effective? John speaks to the front desk and learns that we can have towels, bedding and slippers for $50.00 USD each. We ask if it is possible to get just the towels for a reduced rate. We are told that this is not possible, it is all or nothing. It seems extravagant and I tell John my thoughts. He is adamant and draws his line in the sand, dying on the hill that includes a towel. I relent and we pay the fleecing rate of $100.00 for two thin towels, housecoats, scratchy duvets and nail salon slippers. The slippers we are told are ours to keep. How exciting, I cattily whisper to John. Still, I decide I will take them home. Normally, I wouldn’t give slippers such as these a second thought, but they are likely the most expensive slippers I’ve ever owned and will serve as a reminder to this extravagance.
We treat ourselves to a hollywood shower and luxuriate in the hot spray. It is a treat I decide. It is not worth the cost we paid, though at this moment while I dry off and slip into the robe and don the slippers, the experience is a bargain at twice the price. My frugal self tries to justify by deciding it will be our souvenir of Iceland and imagine peppering future conversations with this firm example of the expense of Iceland. The true gift is a reminder of how we take simple things such as these for granted at home and a reminder to be thankful. Money well spent I conclude.
We enter the dining room and discover that a special dinner has been prepared for our group tonight. It is a sit down meal and features wine and a variety of courses. The entree is lamb and I quietly advise the waitress that I will be happy with the soup, salad and bread. She asks if I like fish, I state that I do and shortly a beautiful salmon dinner arrives for me. This was so unexpected, though such a wonderful treat.
Kommi tells us that tomorrow we will be going deep into South Iceland to a very special place. He advises us to lower our expectations. He tells us that Icelandic children are taught to have low expectations and are fed a diet of folklore stories passed from generation to generation. The stories reflect the harsh natural environment that Icelanders face and serve to teach their children how to live in an unforgiving wilderness. The children learn to respect both the spirits of the land and the natural environment, where earthquakes, volcanos, and extreme weather conditions constantly pose a very real and tangible threat.
This is so different from my childhood experience, where around every corner something wonderful was about to happen. I still live like this, well most days, the eternal optimist.
I wonder about the accommodations tomorrow that would have Kommi telling us this tonight. I decide that we will be surprised with something truly amazing and surely he must be kidding with his grim talk.
Kommi tells us a bedtime story to drive home his point of low expectations. Everyone dies, there is no Disney Prince swooping in at the last moment but rather the last bit of hope when the hero arrives, ends with him killing anyone left. Makes me wonder how the story could be told with no one left standing. Reminiscent of Grimms fairy tale we are left unsettled.
John and I enjoy our glass of wine and retire to our room. It is nice to have privacy as we chat about our amazing day. No sleeping bags for us tonight as we snuggle down deep. We decide sheets are a welcome change and we don’t miss the added exercise of getting into and out of the bag. Settled we listen to the quiet, though a few moments later, John begins to snore, making up for lost time when he was kept awake from everyone else snoring. My silence shattered, I sigh and turn on the white noise.