Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Iceland - Fire and Ice

Iceland takes its name from its glacial snowcaps which, like snowcaps in many places, seem to be melting. At least that´s the case with the one I visited today, Snaeffelsjorg, setting for Jules Vernes´ mythical Journey to the Center of the Earth.

We bypassed the rewards of a 5-hour hike to the top in favor of the immediate gratification of a snowmobile tour, whisking to the crater in under 15 minutes. It was a stellar, crystaline day here, and the views were spectacular, with snowcapped basalt peaks showing patches of black rock -- a minke whale of a mountain -- trickling to green hills and curved beaches and azure sea. (I´d share pix, but my laptop is fried again.)

The earth here is remarkable, with fields of green sheltered by rippled peaks and cliffs and strange, prehistoric-looking lava fields strewn with rocks ... the spew and vomit of a raging earth.

Looking around, you realize the place and the elves, trolls and gods that live here must be unsettled; something boils beneath.

And it does, we learn tonight, when we go to the two-hour Volcano Show. Not evil -- this is a placid place -- but an earth in tumult, perhaps not ever-ready to boil over, but ready enough to create both havoc and magic at any moment.

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