We arrive in Iceland. The view from the plane depicts a small village with not much going on, such a contrast from Amsterdam. Perhaps it has secrets to explore we muse?
Our friends have arrived early this morning from Canada and kindly wait in Keflavik to chauffeur us to Reykjavik and our rental where eight of us will share the space.
Soon we are zipping along the highway trusting the GPS navigation to lead us to the correct place. We twirl around, get lost, found again and arrive. We haul our too large bags in and settle into our spacious room where it appears we have won the bedroom lottery.
A few of us venture to a nearby grocery store to buy provisions. We rely on the GPS unable to argue and blindly follow directions and turns that seem to come too soon. “Turn now,” I implore as Gilles going straight has to make a hairpin turn to keep up with my directions.
The store is our first look at prices in Iceland. Despite what is said about the high costs in Iceland, nothing prepares, a king’s ransom for nearly nothing. We bite the bullet and buy less than we might have, had the prices been reasonable. We have to eat we decide. Coleen strokes the chocolate bar she has chosen for herself and I wonder if we will learn that less is more in Iceland.
We return to the rental. John and I have brought cheese, meat, crackers and wine from Amsterdam to share with our friends, pricey though after the grocery store trip, much less than Iceland. We sit back, relax with each other. Our conversation begins where we left off, the way it always is with great friends.
Carol has bought Brennivin, also known as black death, or burning wine. It is 40% proof, a unsweetened schnapps considered to be Iceland’s signature drink. Generally it is served on special occasions and taken as a shot. Today is special as it marks the beginning of our newest adventure together. Carol pours each of us a large tumbler. A small glass of wine leaves me tipsy, so I decide to sip. It is smooth and reminds me of the sipping gin John’s grandfather drank. I decide the sipping method works better for me as I would like to remember tonight. John with his higher tolerance, drinks like a Viking all at once. “Skal,” we shout as we clink our glasses and announce the beginning of the adventure.
I smile, sit back, let the couch swallow me whole and relax while I think about how we met. We answered an email about an adventure to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and trained for a year, physically and mentally preparing ourselves for our assault on that great mountain. We were victorious. Although we thought we knew one another, the experience itself cemented our friendship in a way none of us could have imagined at the outset. Since that time, we have included others’ into our group as I look over at Maureen who I’ve known for 19 years and Carol’s sister Coleen who sat out the Kilimanjaro climb and enjoyed the Safari that followed. Coleen has earned her Iceland stripes and our gratitude by researching the best places to see in Iceland in our relatively short amount of time. We are blessed I decide, as I remember countless evenings just like this one, drinking wine, eating great food, laughter talking about our shared experiences. Life is always sweeter when its shared I decide. I wonder what we will experience in Iceland that will have us reminiscing years from now, on a cozy night just like this one.