Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Meeting of the Worlds: Parents in Iceland

Worlds collided this past week when my parents came to Iceland. I was glad they were so enthusiastic about their trip, even though half the time one of the three of us was queasy or tired, and the other half of the time the weather was too bitterly cold and windy to really have any fun in. They also brought me magazines from home, lots of hugs, and music notation software. And wine, from the duty-free. Bless them.

The 'rents were surprisingly adventurous on their visit here, and I was happy that they were still interested in taking road trips considering that once you got to the sights, most of the dramatic views in Iceland look so different than the summery, green pictures of the tour books. But no less astonishing! I took them around the traditional Golden Circle, with Geysir, Gullfoss, þingvellir. Everything was windswept, icy, and frozen.

We also went around to Reykholt, Hraunfossar, and Barnafoss, which I had last seen only in the fall. The sights are still totally stunning in the winter- monochromatic, sometimes like black-and-white photos. The waters from Barnafoss are even more milky blue in the winter from all the glacial runoff.

Even Deildartungahver looked quite stunning in the winter- frost on one side of the hot spring, and red rocks on the other, with blue sky and green moss. Four quandrants of color and textures, y'all!

I had never been down on the Reykjanes Peninsula (excepting the Blue Lagoon) and it was totally beautiful; we stopped at Kleifarvatn, a very calm, still lake which is dropping at a rate of about 1cm per day due to volcanic activity in the area. It's also a supposed home to a sea monster. That sea monster better get out to the ocean soon before he's left with a puddle.

We saw Séltún, or Krýsuvík, which is a geothermal site that looks like hot springs, but is in fact the remnants of a geothermal bore-hole that exploded inexplicably a few years ago, and left in its wake a bubbling pit.

The area around Krýsuvík is also one of the best I've seen so far for the rolling, slightly mossy lava fields that could easily be homes for the elves.

I enjoy using the Icelandic skills I've gained to sort of show off for my parents- even though half of the things I say are gramatically incorrect. Still, I can order fish dishes for them or get a taxi and have a little chat, and I don't have to use English. The cute receptionist at the Blue Lagoon and I had a nice Icelandic moment while my parents had a 'huh?' moment. I helped explain the process of Icelandic showers to the parents, and we had a rejuvenating swim in hot waters while the freezing air icicled up our hair.

At the end of my parents' stay, I had my second concert at Listasafn Íslands, or the national Art Museum. It went really well, a short lunchtime concert featuring special guests- in this case, Magnús Trygvason Eliassen and Luciano Becerra. The program was a mixed but well-balanced bag of piano solos and piano with drums. In Luciano's case, he sang 'Amarilli mia Bella' by Cacchini and I made an interior-piano plucked-string arrangement of the piece. I sang a brief song about leaves falling, and cooincidentally, all my pages blew off the piano. Luckily I had most of it memorized. I also had fellow Fulbrighters come and videotape, and some staff of the American Embassy came to listen. How fancy. I was glad my parents got to witness all of it. It was great to see them and I'm sad to see them go, but I've got more work and fun to do here which is already keeping me busy.


AvesMaria said...

Congratulations on your concerts, my friend! I bet it was especially great to have your parents there to share it with too. And, I must ask ... what is an Icelandic shower? Is it like an Italian shower, too small to wash your back in without cracking an elbow? Inquiring minds want to know.

Midnight said...

It's a complex system of going to the pools involving showering naked, remembering towels, being dry or wet in particular areas, and not forgetting to wash your bits before entering the hot tubs!