As we come to the close of our amazing journey round Iceland’s Golden Circle, we pause to remember and appreciate all that we have experienced in such a short time.
The bonds of friendship formed with persons we met for the first time at the airport in Toronto (once strangers, now fast friends), or, those whom we met on the road: our driver, Peter, deserves a special note of recognition: his generosity and humour; his openness and stories about life out on the sea, and his eagerness to show us places special to him, not on our itinerary, showed us Iceland’s heart.
Iceland’s landscapes: the rift valleys; the geysers that shot scalding waters out of the earth; the lava caves we crawled through on all fours; the azure lagoons formed by melting glaciers; calving icebergs and majestic waterfalls; the days without night, humbled us/inspired us to see at once our planet’s fierce beauty, and it’s fragility. Iceland spoke to us personally, asking that we share the burden of its care and well being.
In short, we realized that we too were Icelanders. We too, like Eric the Red and all who travelled on the long boats so many years ago, are explorers, discovering not only the wonder of places we have never seen before, but also aspects of our common humanity and ourselves.
As Robert Louis Stevenson wrote in Foreign Lands,
Up into the cherry tree
Who should climb but little me?
I held the trunk with both my hands
And looked abroad in foreign lands.
I saw the next door garden lie,
Adorned with flowers, before my eye,
And many pleasant places more
That I had never seen before.
I saw the dimpling river pass
And be the sky’s blue looking-glass;
The dusty roads go up and down
With people tramping in to town.
If I could find a higher tree
Farther and farther I should see,
To where the grown-up river slips
Into the sea among the ships…
To all those I have had the privilege of travelling with, my fellow teachers and my students, and to all I met along the road, I wish you a ‘higher tree’ to climb.