The high lava desert is not remarkable
except that portions of what we saw had erupted from a fissure as recently as 1984. That's twenty years ago, I know, but is still closer to molten rock than I have been for a while.
We walked the sulphurous mountain and steam field at Namafjall, just a few miles east of Reykjahalio. Mud was boiling and slurping and popping; steam was coming out of three large vent holes in great continuous clouds; the mountain itself was yellow with the sulphur. The smell was not unlike ripe chicken manure, if you know of what I speak. The Guide says:
"Great care must be taken and all warnings observed as there have been many accidents."
To say this is a land of harsh beauty would be putting it mildly.
We got gasoline in Reykjahalio and had our lunch at a picnic table near the gas station's convenience store. It was still early afternoon and we thought we might drive to the Dettifoss falls before finding our hotel, but the road was still closed, barricaded. We were within twenty-eight kilometers of the most powerful falls in Europe - 212 tons of water per second goes over the edge - and we couldn't get there from here. We may not be able to get there from the north end of the road either. You know you are on an adventure when you find this many roads blocked off.
So, instead, we wandered our way to the hotel, stopping to photograph walls made of lava rocks, a large arrangement of sheep-sorting pens. This is farm country, up here in the north, and we've seen some sheep.
We found our hotel at the south of Lake Myvatn, at least I thought it was our hotel. There was a farm behind it. We parked at the sidewalk and could see a doorway into a little ice cream parlor and cafeteria, and windows opening onto a formal dining room, but we could not see the hotel office nor any doorway to it. There was a girl of about eight standing on the sidewalk, she of long hair hanging down and bright eyes.
"Excuse me," I said. "Do you speak English?"
"Yes," she said with such a lovely lilt, "yes, I do."
"Can you tell me if this is where we are?" I asked her. I pointed at the name of the hotel in our information about accommodations.
"Yes," she said with more of that lovely lilt, "yes, it is."
"Well, where is the office?" I asked. "We do not see the office."
"Around the corner," she said. "The office is around the corner. Go around this corner." She pointed the way.
"Thank you," I said.
"You are very welcome," she said, and she smiled.
What a bright and fair child. You'd almost want to adopt her for your own lovely daughter.
To be continued....