Tuesday, July 3, 2007

EVS Iceland: the latest edition - June 07


Duncan's 3rd Iceland update:

In late May, I moved to the East of Iceland with the other EVS for a simulated workcamp. During this period, I was able to practice my leadership abilities; each of us took it in turns to lead 1 day of the workcamp. Our location was in Neskaupstadur, or North Fjord. Neskaupstadur is the largest town in the East Fjords, with a population of 1,500, and is only reachable through a tunnel under the mountains. Because of this, the town is self sufficient, with its own supermarket, bar, swimming pool, chemist and post office.

The work during the day varied, from raking stones close to the swimming pool to cleaning up the coastline. Perhaps the most interesting work was painting the harbour in preparation for the Fisherman’s Festival. The team of EVS painted the dock yellow, after painting themselves of course!

The training camp was hard work, but we still found time to have fun. My most memorable moment was a hike around the fjord into Hellisfjordur and back, a total distance of 25km. This was a challenging hike because there was no marked path – in fact we wanted to cross the mountain, but could not find a suitable path.

In reflection, I learnt a lot in the east, including many icebreaking games and how to evaluate a workcamp. But the most important lesson was about food. When cooking on a camp, always cook for 40 people, not 15. Too much food is never a problem; too little food means people complain.

The end of May also means the EVS split up and go in different directions. We will not be together again until September as we all have different schedules, although we can always call each other on our mobiles.

So I am now ready for my first proper workcamp…in Neskaupstadur! I am lucky in that WF01, or the first workcamp of 2007 is in Neskaupstadur. There were 4 participants and 3 leaders taking part from France, Denmark, UK, Czech Republic and Lithuania. I had a good feeling that this camp would be perfect, even though the participants were very quiet.

Our local contact was a lady called Jorfridur, a crazy (she likes heavy metal) biker chick who somehow managed to do everything for us during the 2 weeks. Our work for the camp was not quiet what we expected, but we all showed as much enthusiasm as possible. There was more painting in the harbour, lots of raking stones and sweeping docks, in the next fjord, Reybarfjordur. The most enjoyable work involved pulling out some pretty blue flowers. These are called Arctic Lupin, and are seen as a weed in Iceland. They are tall flowers, similar to Bluebells, which prevent other flowers from growing by blocking out the sunlight. We spent two very enjoyable days on the cliffs working with these flowers, but we felt like such vandals!

Part of the role of the local contact in a workcamp is to provide the group with an excursion or two. Jorfridur organised a boat trip for us (on two occasions), and we were able to go fishing and exploring the fjords. On one occasion, we visited a rescue house, which according to local legend is haunted. The story goes that a local man took a photo of a window in the house, and there was a face of a man in the picture. This man had been dead for 100 years. I also took a picture of the same window, however there is no man, or is there…

We also participated in the Fisherman’s Festival – there was a trip round the fjords on the big fishing boats, a BBQ, and a tug of war competition, where the losers had to jump in the fjord.

Finally, we found time to hike round the fjord, and this time, I cross the mountain range! I really enjoyed my first workcamp and am looking forward to my next in Flateyri in July. - Duncan

Ghost House

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