Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Detox Hotel, Car Accident

This past weekend was a whirlwind of activity.
I had lunch and coffee with a great Icelandic musician named Hilmar Örn Agnarsson, formerly of the punk band Þeyr, and currently a multi-choir director and all-around happy, intelligent, and helpful person.
He played the bass in þeyr, and thus got to wear a cool hat and glasses.

Thru Hilmar, literally several hours later, I was invited to play a gig out in Keflavík by a man named Ragnar, who used to be the 'mayor' of sorts of the þingvellir/Gullfoss/Geysir area. Now, he's the co-owner of a Detox Hotel/Spa out by the Airport, along with an Iceland celebrity, Jónina Ben. Ragnar wanted me to play some live music at the Hotel this weekend in exchange for some free healthy meals and a night in a comfy hotel, hot tub, massages, etc. I said, what the hell. Jónina picked me up and I found out she was the person to bring aerobics to Iceland in the 70's/80's. That's pretty great. These are her fancy exercise balls.

I played a few songs at the detox place, where people come from around the world to stay for two weeks and eat only fruits and vegetables, lose some weight, exercise, and get pampered. I had some weird meals and a breakfast that included sweet potatoes, onions, and carrot juice with garlic and beets. No sugars, no shampoo, no chemicals anywhere, and for sure no chocolate. But I did feel refreshed when I was done. Or maybe it was from getting a massage by a hot Russian named Sebastian.

I thought I'd be in for a strange weekend when I saw my room, not much to see here.

But then the room turned out to have a very soft big bed. And I ended up having some of the best chats I've had here, finding out about Ragnar's time as 'mayor', his bringing cool musicians to Iceland to work with Hilmar Örn, and all the escapades that are involved when one works on large music projects. Also, I danced a traditional dance with some people from the Faroe Islands. And, went to Keflavík for the first time and ate some delicious dinner that was full of wonderful things like sugars and carbs, completely the opposite of my detox-hotel stay, and those carbs were amazing.

But on the way back to Reykjavík, Ragnar and I were the first car to respond to a pretty bad car accident on the road, involving 10 people. It was probably the worst accident I've witnessed in my life. I obviously didn't take pictures while it was happening, but I tried to get a quick snapshot of the two cars on the side of the road after help had arrived.

One car slid on some ice, striking another on its side, and there were two cars full of screaming children and a very bad-looking mom in the driver's seat. She was covered in blood, windows smashed, and the jaws of life later needed to come and get her out of the car. Ragnar was a complete live-saver, on the phone with a nurse and calling the ambulance, and talking to the injured woman, keeping her alert and calming the situation. I stayed with the kids by the side of the road and gave a couple hugs as everyone waited, shaking and scared. Ragnar and I left after the ambulances got there, and before the TV crews arrived...not the way I wanted to get on television. Later I read everyone was taken to the hospital but no one was seriously injured. Let's not repeat that event again here, shall we?

I also met two of Ragnar's friends at the Kjarvalsstaðir museum, and they might help me promote my music a bit. One of them had a very interesting day-job, currently importing socks from France, and also working with the American-French alliance here in Iceland. That's kind of bizarrely fascinating. I want some French socks!

Then, I went to a play-party with Hilmar Örn, which was really difficult to translate, but I'm glad I went. The evening was a sort of one-woman play-lecture about humor and health, including a lot of jokes. It was all in Icelandic, most of it colloquialisms, and I got about 25% of it. I did meet another composer my age, though, and got a free box of chocolate cookies, so the evening really turned out for the better. I was finally able to verbalize, (in Icelandic!), that I am in sort of a difficult place with my language acquisition, where I don't understand everything, but don't want to use English all the time just because it's the easy way out. It's sort of like being in between two languages- one you don't want to have to use, and one you can't quite use fully.

Hilmar also invited me to a rehearsal of his girls' chorus, which I may be writing music for, and they may sing one of my songs next week at Listasafn Íslands for my last concert there in this little music series. But that didn't happen within the weekend, so maybe I'll tell about that another day.

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