Wet wet wet on a summer's day

Wet wet wet on a summer's day

Aug 18, 2010 | By Dirk en Liesbeth

Wet, wet, wet on a summer’s day
19th Juli 2010

Inspired by Icelandic colours
I have quit relying on the on-line weather forecast of Iceland altogether. Before leaving for Reykjavik, I checked once more. Just to be safe. Temperatures of 11 to 13 degrees, lots of rain and yes, one day with a 60 percent chance of sunshine. I threw out some t-shirts and shorts and packed some extra warm clothes. My luggage got heavier after every Internet check. So I ended up with an overweight suitcase at the check inn desk at Schiphol in Amsterdam, not knowing that I would have to buy swimming shorts, leaving three pairs neatly folded in my wardrobe at home.

Today, however, is the fourth day in a row with temperatures over 18 degrees. My hair sun bleached, my face nicely tanned. I could easily fool my family into believing that I have been exploring the south of France.
Today is also the day that we, my travel companion and I decided to go… snorkelling. We actually booked a snorkelling event! We didn’t expect tropical fish in the glacier lake at Ping Veillir as the temperature is just above freezing point, but still, snorkelling is what we chose to do.
At the diving spot, we were gently introduced to the secrets of all the gear we needed to survive. Our lot were given a bear suit, a dry suit with boots attached, a snorkel and goggles, a hood and three finger mitts, which would also fit an alien. And of course, there were fins.
Outside it was far over 20 degrees and the one hour wrestling with heavy gear at least doubled the temperature inside.
Things started to lighten up when we lowered ourselves into the almost freezing water. Two degrees cold water tends to gently slap your cheeks when you are floating face down in the river. The mystical, bright blue and green colours can easily compete with every tropical reef. Not that we have actually seen one, but based on what Discovery Channel shows.
You will find no brightly coloured fishes in the clear glacier water of two degrees, but shades of colours that will surely amaze you. Slowly we floated over what seemed to be canyons up to 60 meters deep. The bottom clearly visible! Apart from catching a glimpse of a fellow snorkeler’s fin in front of you, you will find yourself completely alone, listening to your own breathing.
In silence, still amazed about what we had experienced we walked back to the place where we had started. There, you could jump from rocks of 6 or 8 meters high into the cold water. I had to be brave and chose 8 meters, feeling a bit nausea in my stomach.

Still in awe, we continued our trip to Geysir, named after the famous Geysir that used to erupt up to 80 meters high. Nowadays, it is Strokkur that entertains a large crowd of tourists. Every ten minutes or so, tension builds in the deep blue hole and in the audience. Camera’s become heavy when waiting for Strokkur to erupt. The water bubbles, rises and calms down again. Minutes pass by. And then a big, blue bubble rises, explodes and transforms in a huge white curtain of warm water. Under the lee, some try to escape in the very last minute, yet fail. Everybody laughs.

Fifteen driving minutes later, against the background of the glacier Langjökill (lang-jow-kidl), we stop at Gulfoss, an roaring waterfall that steps down a three step staircase and seems to vanish into the earth. After a closer look, the melting water of Langjökill glacier plunges down into a crevice, which is, as we learnt from an information board, right where the Eurasian plate and North American plate decided to split some 180 million years ago.
In 2010, the ridge is a place where people meet. Accompanied by roaring thunder, mists of water seduce the sun to play along and together they create brightly coloured rainbows, at some moments even all over the fall. The wind thanks the audience elaborately with white sprays of water. Hair gets wet, clothes get damp and smiles appear on faces.

On days like this, Iceland is one big, brightly coloured water festival, defying each and every weather forecast.

19th Juli 2010