After the end of 2014, I’d resolved not to return to the Philippines. Life there had taken its toll on me. Least of all it’d made me very acclimated to tropical weather.
Being back in the States, I found myself cold so often. Didn’t matter if all my friends were in tank tops and shorts. I was bundled up in a jacket. The tropical way of life had truly changed me in a tangible way.
I couldn’t accept this, of course. So I had the brilliant idea of shocking my system. “If I’m cold all of the time because I used to be where it’s hot,” I thought, “then I just need to go be somewhere it’s cold all the time so I can even it back out.”
Next thing I know, a French guy’s film about Iceland is starting to go viral. I’d only ever dreamed of seeing such landscapes. And yet there it was in full frame: Iceland. More accessible than ever. And what was stopping me from going to see it for myself? Absolutely nothing but my own hesitation.
So I found a travel agency in the area, told them I wanted to work while on the road in Iceland, and they were more than happy to take a lofty sum of my hard earned money. The next week, I was on a plane to Reykjavik.
This was to be my first truly solo foreign trip. No guides, no chauffers, no friends. Just me, my phone, and a general idea of what I was hoping to see. The travel agency filled in the majority of the gaps of my plan. And offered a pretty sweeping safety net incase I got into any trouble.
After landing at Keflavik Airport, a shuttle took me downtown for my first night’s stay. It had been a long day, having taken a red-eye from Boston, so I was eager to take a shower and get some sleep. However, I’d long learned the best way to beat jet lag is to simply stay awake the first day and have a regular schedule.
So I piddled around Reykjavik’s city center. Looking at this shop and the next. Realizing that, despite this being the nation’s capital, it was remarkably calm. Manila had me thinking capitals were noisy, crowded, smelly… D.C. hadn’t convinced me otherwise. But here was Reykjavik. Calm, serene, the soft scent of ocean spray. Sure it had some noise, and the streets weren’t barren. If I were to go back, that ocean scent could just as well have been rotten fish. But it was unlike any other city I’d been in before. By any other standard, this place was immaculate. It might as well have been paradise for someone like me.
Later in the afternoon I met up with one of my dad’s friends. Oddly enough, my dad had gone to college with this lovely woman from Iceland. They’d kept in touch, she knew I was headed to her country, and she offered to take me in and feed me the first day to get myself oriented. I met her husband, her kids (who were all around my age-ish), and we all shared an exquisite meal along with blissful conversation. Possibly the best conversation in the world, per-capita.
Sharing stories, sharing food, sharing experiences from around the world. It truthfully doesn’t get much better than that.
The next day, the agency arranged to shuttle me over to my rental car for my time in Iceland. I hopped in this modest little Ford Fursion and off I went along Highway 1 towards my first destination: the Golden Circle.