Kayaking in Iceland

We booked a kayak tour. Our group splits into two groups, morning and afternoon. I’m happy to be part of the afternoon group and enjoy sleeping in a little longer. I begin my day fighting with the fancy coffee maker and enjoy a latte for my 30 minutes of effort. I sit at the table and enjoy my crime brûlée skyr, a cheese type product, its consistency similar to Greek yogurt.

Our group decides to tour a nearby lighthouse though arrive too early, the tide still out making the journey not possible. We salvage the moment by scavenging the beach and soon are rewarded with sea glass.

We journey to a nearby park and stop for a walk. We spy a beautiful waterfall and hear excited children’s voices as they enjoy a last day of summer. It’s raining, we bundle up against the cold and shake our heads at the Icelandic children, clad in bathing suits playing in the water. I wonder if it’s a hot spring? We check and find it cold. Little Viking children we declare.

We leave to arrive at the kayak site, a small bay where we will need to portage our kayaks a distance. Hordur, our guide is friendly and despite his years, stronger than all of us as he pulls our crafts into the water, one after another. The kayaks are narrow, able to track fast though tippy as a result. We mention this to Hordur who simply states you will get used to this fact. He is right as the alternative is getting wet in the frigid water.  We weigh our options, an Eskimo roll, beyond our capabilities or removing the spray skirt upside down if we upturn as we are wearing the boat.  Survival instinct takes over as we glide through the water, balancing the craft with our hips

We are off on this grey day hoping to see seals, or puffins or something else equally as cool. We paddle around easily and then fight a current to cross to the other side for no other good reason then to get to that side. There are many seabirds, flying above, leading the way to our obvious direction. We learn the puffins have left for the season and the seals that were here this morning have also left. I enjoy the paddle anyway, it’s cool to be kayaking in Iceland I tell myself. Soon there is excitement as Carol spies a seal. There are many such citing and I seem to miss them all. It is time to get back.  Reluctantly I leave, then look behind where a seal has decided to follow me, making certain my kayak experience is memorable. I decide to take no photos and instead snap off a few photos for my memory where when recalled is certain to make me smile.

Advertisements

Lake days

After a day spent working on the house, staining, painting, gardening and building, we are ready for some relaxation. There always seems to be so much to do and much work remains as we tally the must do’s, should do’s and have to do’s and place them on our virtual list.  We collectively sigh, It seems as though we have barely scratched the surface as we scan the yard. Still the summer is getting away from us and a break is needed.  We load the kayaks on the car, and salvage the day by traveling to the nearby lake.

John prepares the steaks while I leave in search of Saskatoon berries.  I walk a long way, my efforts unrewarded, the trees stripped of their fruit, by the weekend warriors.  I arrive back as my dinner is served, the taste intensified with outdoor cooking.  Satiated, we pack up our kitchen and unload the kayaks for our sunset paddle.

There are blood suckers at this beach and I ask John to launch my boat to decrease my exposure.  He complies and then spends several moments picking the suckers off his own skin.  Several times I feel compelled to share that the blood suckers seem to prefer him.  He quietly reminds me of my limited exposure in the water.

The light is at its prettiest, the beauty doubled.  In awe, we break the glass of the water with our paddles.  I snap pictures hoping that the camera catches some of the beauty, though just to remember it exactly as it is, I silently snap off a few pictures to store in my memory.   We share the lake with a few stray ducks on their last loop around the water before calling it a day.  The night creatures are stirring and soon their shift will begin.


We loop around the pond and I lazily lift my oar and watch the droplets as they land on the water, breaking the perfection.  The sun turns the water gold and the rays dance on the surface creating motion.  Instantly, I am transported back to my childhood days spent on lakes like this one, canoeing and mesmerized by the water.  It never gets old.

The light lessens and reluctantly we leave this beauty for now.  I’m hoping that we will be able to carve out more time this year for another paddle or five,  though fall is fast approaching and too soon the kayaks will be stored for another season.


We arrive back at the beach and John jumps out of his kayak to pull in my boat and lessen my blood sucker contact.  His chivalry is not rewarded and he is soon covered in blood suckers.  We sit on the picnic bench and John picks off the suckers from his body.  He separates his toes and finds the ones with the best hiding spots.   I remark that I have none.  I then search my memory banks and come up empty–I have never had a blood sucker on my body, its the idea of them that I abhor, how interesting!  I share this with John who looks at me wryly as he pulls a particularly attached sucker from his leg.

The light has faded and in near dark we load the kayaks.  The stars make their appearance on our short drive home and I think how fortunate we are to have this place so close to our home.  The house welcomes us home and the short time away has us seeing the work done with fresh eyes and we are satisfied.  The break allows us to appreciate the work done as opposed to the work that remains.

 

 

Lazy day in Zanzibar

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The long lazy days stretch out before us, yawning into eternity.

We drag our bodies out of bed and make the arduous journey of a few steps for breakfast.  The menu is limited when compared to North American standard, though the choices are less taxing for lack of choice.  The Indian Ocean is our view, every colour of blue represented. The beach has ashtray sand, though covered in seaweed.  The  bugs are drawn to the kelp and as such we are not.  Humans do not  lounge on the beach, though cows enjoy the sun and soak up the rays.  There is however much activity walking back and forth,  this is our grand plan for the day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We discover Dhow boats being constructed during our trek.  My Carpenter husband is enthralled with this ancient craft.  There are entire families that camp while the work is completed on the boats.  I think about my husband who travels to work and is gone for weeks at a time.  Here it is a family affair and while not everyone is working directly on the boats, having family close, eliminates the sacrifice.  How clever to have priorities clear like crystal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The boats are beautiful, joints seemingly invisible, no caulking required.  The work is done with hand tools, the craft passed down through the generations.  My husband recognizes the medieval tools that he has only seen in a book, here they are transferred into the 21st century.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The boards are bent in a curious way, forced around nearby trees to achieve the desired shape, then placed in the fire to dry the inside while the outside is kept wet thus achieving the desired shape and curve required. It is amazing how the craftsmen know exactly the bend that they are trying to achieve without tools to guide the process.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We walk slightly off the compound to peruse shops.  The items are different from what we have seen, haggling is part of the process.  We find a painting of a lion that we are told was painted by the Uncle of our shopkeeper.  It reminds us of the safari and seems a good choice.  It is taken from the frame and rolled for our long journey home.  Its interesting that there are several identical paintings of the same lion and I wonder if the Uncle is churning them out, or if a factory is doing the work.

We plan to rent kayaks.  Our friend speaks the language and we order boats for later in the day.  We arrive, western time at the predetermined hour and wait.  The men arrive with one kayak for 8 of us.  They begin the process of scrounging up more boats and life jackets. Like the Titanic there are too few of both.  They scurry up and down the beach in a haphazard way, their efforts do not increase our fleet.  A few of our group decline the adventure to free up resources.  My normally placid husband snaps and voices his displeasure, it changes nothing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We embark on the water with a portion of our group, some opting for no life jackets to free up the resources for those who are not good swimmers.  We paddle around and the delay has allowed us to witness the most glorious sunset on the Indian Ocean.  I’m glad at this moment we were detained. I sit back in my kayak and marvel at the beauty of the world.  There is a lesson–good things come to those who wait, or  perhaps its go with the flow? Or when in Africa, shake off the timetables, calendars and clocks of the Western world and just be…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA