"Iceland 2000" story # 6

SNORKELLING IN "ICE"LAND
Reykjanes Peninsula          June 20, 2000

"There are two kinds of people in this world who wear Hawaiian shirts: gay people and big, fat party animals! ...and Bart doesn┤t look like a big, fat party animal to me." - (Homer Simpson)
     Before thinking, I nearly wore my flowery Fijian shirt to work at the gay bar the other night. But then I realized I might-as-well be wearing pink pants with an "I Love Richard Simmons" shirt. Either way, I wouldn┤t be taken by anyone as being straight, and more guys than usual would be hitting on me.
     This is the first time in my life I┤ve ever wished I owned a "Hooters" shirt or one of those "Big Johnson" ones where the scrawny guy gets all the hot babes - you know, one of those shirts sooo obnoxiously heterosexual where NO ONE would ever hit on me.

I was in my bed when it hit! A 6.5 on the Richter scale...my first-ever earthquake, occurring on the Icelandic Independence Day. From my fourth-floor apartment, I felt the earthquake and four aftershocks.
     If you┤ve never been in one, a 6.5 moves you about as much as a childhood bully would while throttling you. You can hear the walls shaking and the windows reverberating. My stomach felt empty during the five-second quake. It kind of felt like riding a roller-coaster, where you get a thrill but you┤re not quite positive that something very bad isn┤t going to happen. (I don┤t think anything bad did happen)
     As for the Icelandic Independence Day, I thought about watching the parade but it sounded pretty boring. The Icelandic Prime Minister, Miss Iceland, Magn˙s Ver Magn˙sson, Bj÷rk...none of them were going to march. I guess it was just a bunch of scouts.
     "Alright, it┤s Independence Day! Let┤s go downtown and watch the SCOUTS!"

"You┤ll die of shock the moment you hit the water!" said my Icelandic friend, HÚra, when I told her about my desire to snorkel off Reykjavik a few weeks ago.
     On Sunday, I decided it was "Snorkelling-Time". I walked to some rocks that jutted out into the water, and began pumping myself up for the cold. I thought about throwing my house-keys into the water to ensure I wouldn┤t pansy out, but I┤m not that confident in my nonpansiness.
     Nevertheless, I did go through with it. So there I was: in 40░ F weather, at 66░ North Latitude, wearing my blue swimsuit and snorkelling mask, jumping into the ocean holding onto an orange rope, with about ten beach-walkers thinking I was crazy.
     It was well worth it. I┤d always thought my first time snorkelling in kelp (brown algae) would be in California or Australia - I certainly didn┤t think Iceland. Swimming in kelp is like being in a thick forest and able to fly. It┤s awesome, but I didn┤t see any animals.
     After six dives, my body cavity felt like it had come out of the freezer. I grew concerned over the extreme headaches I got when I surfaced, so I called it quits for the day. I spoke to several Icelanders at a bar I went to that night, and not one had ever been in the ocean. I tried to gain a snorkelling buddy for the next time, but there wasn┤t much interest.

About my last message...although I made fun of the people who wouldn┤t stop for me while hitchhiking, let me just say that I greatly appreciate the kind souls who do pick me up, every one of them. My travels wouldn┤t be possible without them.
     Yesterday, I hitchhiked south 30 miles to the Reykjanes Peninsula, in search of a job to replace my current one. I┤m unsure what I┤ll do if I actually get a job on the Reykjanes. I guess I┤d have to hitchhike every day to work and back, I haven┤t really thought that through.
     First, I applied on whale-watching boats which depart from Sandger­i and Keflavik. I don┤t know if I┤ll get a job there, but I befriended the guide from one ship and she let me enjoy a free trip on the boat that day. During the four hours on-board, we saw quite a few Minke Whales. The whales are brown, with a tiny dorsal fin, and 30 feet long. When breathing, they cut through the water like a circular saw. We also saw a group of near 1000-gannets, which are yellow-headed gulls that dive after fish at 40 miles an hour.
     Next, I applied at Iceland┤s largest tourist attraction, the Blue Lagoon. It┤s a steaming, creamy-blue swimming hole surrounded by piled rock, and the mud is supposed to have healing qualities.
     Neither job would offer the excitement of Club 22, that┤s for sure. But if given the choice between working with video camera-waving, speedo-wearing, mud-faced tourists or man-hungry, infant-dancing, smoke-breathed, window-opening, dead-drunk Icelanders, the decision is obvious.
     If you see me on the road heading out of Reykjavik this summer, pick me up! I┤m probably late for work.

your pal, Justin


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