Our waitress was a pretty Icelandic girl of sweet temper
who spoke flawless English to us, and may also have been speaking Chinese to the people she worked for. In a flash of a moment I dreamed up a whole story about this Icelandic girl's fascination with China; she would be studying Chinese at university and working at the restaurant as a place to practice the language and to earn enough that she could take a backpacking tour across China and write a best-selling book about it and become a famous author. And here she was serving me a bit of late afternoon meal.
Then we headed for the airport. We filled the car with gasoline in Keflavik, as close to the airport as we could, and returned it to the rental agency. We unloaded our bags and called my nephew to come pick us up. As we stood in front of the airport terminal waiting for Chad to arrive and take us back to his and Rut's apartment, it was obvious our trip was over. We'd spend a day and a half with Chad and Rut before departing, yes, but we had seen what we were going to see of Iceland. That part was done. It was a somber moment.
April 27, 2005
As they had on our arrival, so as our departure neared Rut's parents, Steinie and Erna, fed us a wonderful Iceland meal. This time it was leg of lamb grilled on the Weber, Icelandic potatoes, Icelandic peas. The Icelandic potatoes are small, round spuds, and these seemed to have been infused with butter, to give them a yellow cast and a rich taste. You buy them in the supermarket already prepared this way. Mary and I had seen them on the store shelves in Hofn and Varmehlid. The Icelandic peas are like the peas I remember from my childhood - big peas, intensely green, intensely pea-flavored. They are always served with leg of lamb.
At table, having at the meal, were Steinie and Erna, Chad and Rut, Mary and myself. We devastated that leg of lamb, leaving nothing but bone. Chad and I were the most carnivorous among the six of us, I suppose I have to admit. That piece of meat didn't have half a chance of outlasting us.
We adjourned to the living room to talk some more about our journey. Erna laughed when we told her that the the "mystery salad" we'd asked her about was nothing other than a smoked salmon spread. We talked about the Icelandic educational system which has graduates speaking at least four languages by the time they finish. Steinie told us about his travels around the world some years ago as the masseur for Iceland's national hockey team. He gave me some soccer pins and an Icelandic flag.
We said "Takk" and "Takk" and "Takk" again. Thank you for the wonderful food. Thank you for opening your home to us. Thank you for these mementoes.
We said "Good-bye." And the Icelanders said "Bless."
April 28, 2005
Someone who changed planes at the airport in Keflavik has told me what a wonderful airport he thought it was. Perhaps it is a wonderful airport. I did not notice. We would be leaving Iceland in a few hours, in a few minutes, in the blink of an eye, and I was struggling with that and was not looking at the airport. I had never become so attached to another place away from home as I had become attached to Iceland. The hardest thing I've had to do in recent memory was to get on the plane when they called our flight.
To be continued....