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View Diary: Iceland's On-going Revolution (219 comments)

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  •  Yep -- no votes in opposition :) (1+ / 0-)
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    Here's a random Reuters article from the time about it.  It was almost a non-issue over there.

    It's not just the (amazing) landscape in Iceland that's so appealing, but also people's attitudes on life.  Iceland has this sort of "collective individualism" aspect about that I find to be a really wonderful thing to strive for, where everyone struggles to leave their own mark** while not wanting to leave behind others who are trying to leave theirs. You even see it in their music, where there's fierce competition between artists for recognition, yet they'll get up on stage and back up each other's performances or swap band members, stuff like that.

    There's a phrase I learned while I was over there -- "þetta reddast".  It's sort of the unofficial motto of Iceland.  Þetta means "that", while redda means "to work things out".  Reddast is the reflexive form, so it basically means "things will work themselves out".  But really, it's that the people have adapted to their harsh environs to make it so that things work themselves out.  In a country where you can suddenly get a flat tire in the middle of bloody nowhere, where volcano-triggered jökulhlaup floods (glacial runs) wipe out a couple major bridges every year, where a volcanic eruption can randomly disrupt air traffic and threaten lives... you don't survive unless you work together.  

    One of my nights in Reykjavík I had a perfect storm of disaster.  My host for that evening got drunk while we were out on the town, forgot about us and went home with some girl; we had no clue how to get back to his place where our bags were, and to top it all off, I lost a bag containing my money.  And my credit cards.  And my driver's license (I was supposed to rent a car the next day).  And my passport.  I mean, how much worse does it get than that?  We walked an hour and a half in the cold to the other side of town in the middle of the night, and (feeling awful for doing it) woke our previous hosts up to ask for help (we considered just sleeping outside).  They invited us in, fixed us some hot chocolate, and sent us to bed to get a proper sleep.  The next day different members of the family all pitched in to help us set everything right.  They tracked down the guy with our bags and got them back.  They contacted the DJ at the club, who in turn sent out a message to his 30,000 Facebook subscribers seeking information.  They brought us to the embassy to start the process of getting a temporary passport.  The rental agency simply switched our names on the car reservation like it was nothing so we could still rent it.   And on and on.

    We took one of the guys who was with us from the family out to eat.  He ducked out briefly while we were waiting for out food, then came back to eat with us.  He took us down to the harbor afterwards and said, "I want to show you something beautiful.  Look near that whale-watching ship over there, but closer."  I don't see it.  "You're looking too far; closer."  I still don't see it.  "Closer."  Meanwhile, he's slowly reaching over my head holding the bag with my missing passport and everything else until it comes into my field of view; the club owner's message had worked and he had run off to get it.  A woman who worked at the club found them and hid them so well in the DJ's booth (so nobody would take it) that the DJ hadn't been able to find it.

    Þetta reddast. That's Iceland for you. Amazing place, amazing people. I can't wait to return.

    Anyway, I really appreciate your kind words; they mean a lot to me. :)

    * -- * The creative output per-capita in Iceland is truly staggering. The amount of musical, artistic, and literary talent that's come out of a country that has had under a million total people in its entire history added together, and barely over 300,000 people today, is really just unbelievable. A little over a week ago, I was at this music festival. None of the big names in Icelandic music were there -- Björk, Sigur Rós, Gus Gus, Múm, etc. Apart from Glen Hansard, the Irish musician, this was all bands that were pretty much just known inside Iceland. And they completely rocked the place.  Check out around minute 4:00 when Sigurður  hands the stage over to Valdimar to play "Yfirgefinn"; the place was just going crazy.  I'm not a big fan of reggae, but even I have to admit that the Icelandic reggae band Hjálmar sure knows how to rock an abandoned fish factory  ;)  And on and on.  And it's not just music... the sculptures all over Reykjavík are incredible, there's this amazing graffiti culture, the architecture is awesome (Harpa, Hallgrímskirkja (and it's awesome pipe organ!), etc), and on and on.  

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