Iceland, land of not Ice

Iceland, Land of not Ice Sunday July 6th.

In Manhattan, a bum stopped in the middle of the busy sidewalk and yelled out , ” What time is it?” ” 11 o’clock,” I yelled back. Without missing a beat he countered with “AM or PM?” it’s funny isn’t it? But it’s not really funny in Iceland, where amazingly its light all the time. Now as I write this it’s 12:45 (yes AM , not PM ) and it could be …..well, anytime, 4 pm, 10 am. Even though I knew this before coming, still it’s amazing and really fun. Something so basic as the rythym of the day changes and we feel quite disoriented. I think for the Icelander, the seasons are not so much hot and cold, but light and dark.
So here I am lingering in this bar, enjoying the extension, as if this moment is frozen in time. If only we could freeze the wonderful moments, the victories; the moments when we feel close and connected; when she still loved me.
We had a busy day. We got on the plane at about midnight and found our rented room about10 hours later. After napping we ventured out for our first street performance. We found the main tourist street and found what we thought was a good spot, not near any open business and with a place to sit. Sadly, we attracted mostly drunks, who mostly talked too loudly, smoked, and fought with each other. It was fun for about 10 minutes, especially when our first drunk started dancing very well to our music. But it got old very quickly. Soon we realized either they had to go or we had to go. We hinted broadly, lied, made excuses, and finally they went away. Not long after, our housemate in our airbnb, a rather strange but kind Austrian who walks around the common areas in his underwear, walked by and commented, “What are u guys doing way out here?” So we followed him through the city to the real center, including helpful tips on where to eat, hangout ,etc. we picked out a few spots to play and he left us there. We asked a nice patio restaurant if they would be interested in our services ( they weren’t,) then went to a good spot to play that had a great view of a most magnificent church, called Halgrina Kirja. It’s an amazing structure that rises like a volcano from the street to the heavens. Many people stopped but we soon realized it wasn’t for us, it was to look at the church and take a picture. Still some people did stop and listen. Mostly it was tourists strolling around looking for a good meal. It seems that there are some very nice restaurants with excellent chefs around. Theynare so expensive though,mthat none of the locals we have me so far, ever go out to eat. Everyone eats at home or from the grocery store, as they say. Still, they were nice tourists, slightly off the beaten path. A more adventurous sort than you might find in Paris or Prague. These are often hikers, climbers, and nature photographers as well as the package tour crowd. By the time you’ve gotten to Iceland though,myou are pretty well travelled. We played until it started raining again and walked down to the patio restaurant to see what the music was, but we got intercepted by a jazz jam session. We went in and ordered some coffees for about $5 each (the same as in Korea) and we’ were set for the night. The musicians were excellent. Some students, young hard-working sax and guitarists played technical but very nice jazz. Really I was inspired, oh, technical jazz can be very nice to. I played “B lack Orpheus” with them, not in my best form but respectable. Later we talked a bit with the musicians. A bit reserved but friendly enough. We stayed until it closed at 1am (all bars close at 1 am by law even though it is light outside) an struggled a bit to get home at about 230. The most amazing thing is the light. It’s still light even at that time. Also we learned that the streets are heated. They pump abundant hot water in pipes under the bricks (much like they do in Korea, under the floors, called ondol) under the streets all year round so there is no need to plow them. The city itself is a tourist town because as we were told, tourism is the main industry of the town, that and fishing. There are lots of original designs and art around. The concert hall lights up with subtle light show. That concert hall is itself a dynamic work of light art. Things are expensive here it’s true. I’m not sure how we are going to make it but for our first day, we did a lot and learned a lot. Saw some evidence of elf culture, met a circus, found out that they named it Iceland, to keep people away even though it’s pretty moderate temperature- wise. The locals complain about the weather being too unpredictable. It changes drastically from hour to hour, so you never can plan outdoor activities. The people seem very cheerful and more than willing to help. It was our longest day, and by the time we went to bed, it was still light out.

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