Thursday, October 11, 2007

Duncan's EVS adventure in Iceland

Duncan is currently in Iceland on a EVS project - this is his latest update:

My first project is over and I am now back in Reykjavik. My first task is to say goodbye to my participants. I found this very hard, due to the excellent group spirit in the camp. I will have many more good-byes to say before I leave Iceland.

The 17th June is Icelandic National Independence day, when Iceland was made independent from Denmark in 1944. It is a day of celebrations, and Reykjavik is always full of people. There was a battle reenactment, with the actors dressed as Vikings and fair maidens. What followed was a bloody battle, leaving only the shortest, and in my opinion, the fattest Viking still alive. The day ended with concerts on a main stage near the harbour, and the music varied from rock to heavy metal. By far the best band was Ampop, a local Icelandic group. Parties in Iceland generally happen after midnight, and at 3am, Reykjavik was full of excited, intoxicated people!

The next day, I begun work at the 41st International Children’s Games. The games are similar to the Olympic Games, but for children aged between 10 and 14. Every year the games are held in a different city, and this year is the turn of Reykjavik. Our job on the first day was to look after the VIPs at the opening ceremony. Afterwards, we had to assist in the schools where the children stayed.

This day was also the longest day, June 21st. I celebrated this with the other EVS by attending a concert by Amminar, the band who usually support Sigur Ros. They played many different types of instruments, including glasses and saws. In complete contrast to the UK, celebrities in Iceland don’t get any hassle from the media, and it has been known to bump into Bjork in downtown Reykjavik!

The beginning of June saw many more hours of daylight than before. At first, it seemed strange to have ‘white nights’, but after a while I got used to it. In some cases, it was an advantage having 24 hours of daylight.
In total, this summer, I am supposed to lead three workcamps, and have 14 days of free time between each one. During this time, I am allowed to help out in other camps and travel a little. I took advantage of a project in Hveragdi and joined the group for a few days. Hverargdi is where Icelanders grow their fruits and vegetables, and is famous for its greenhouses. Also, there are many hot springs in the area, as the town lies directly on the volcanic belt. We hiked into the interior and found a hot spring where you could take a dip. As well as hiking with the group, I joined them on their first days work, clearing dead wood and rubbish from a forest area. Immediately, I saw there was a great group spirit, as the participants formed a human chain to transport the larger pieces of wood down the hillside. A great example of teamwork indeed!

Icelandic swimming pools are a great way to relax. Most are outdoors and consist of a large pool for swimming, sauna and several hotpots (heiter pottur). The latter is a heated pool of water for bathing, typically geothermically heated. The temperatures vary from 36°C to 42°C – very hot indeed! During my stay in Iceland, I will be comparing the different hotpots I will visit, and will name the best in my final extract. Relaxing in the hotpots in Reykjavik allows me plenty of time to plan my second project, in Flateyri. Flateyri is in the Westfjords, and the camp begins on July 3rd. I am already looking forward to it!

Click here for pictures of projects in Iceland

Click here for a country profile of Iceland

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