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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Walkabout: Vik and Iceland’s South Coast

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A personal account of growth through travel


As a species, we define ourselves by moments and stretches of time. My time in High School, the time I lived in Toronto, my time in University. And today: The time I was truly on my own.

I sit in the small bus depot in Reykjavik, writing in my journal as a girl walks by. I don’t look at her eyes or legs or any other cliché bits that single, slightly desperate guys are known to watch for. What really stands out is the sound of her heels as she walks to the café and back. Clop, clop, clop. I stop writing and just listen – until it fades.

Iceland Waterfall IntrvI catch the bus and after a few hours it turns into a narrow canyon that opens up all around us. There are a few small buildings, a large camping ground and a raging waterfall, tall and powerful, emptying into the valley. Is this Vik? No. But we’re close. I wish I’d brought my tent. I could have spent the night camped at the base of the falls, listening to the thudding water as I drifted to sleep.

My legs are bouncing. I’m hungry and it’s getting late. Why didn’t I leave earlier? Airports, airplanes, busses and tour groups— three days of sitting and it’s finally gotten to me. I want to pick a direction and run, jump, dance and do all those other things you see in the Gap commercials. Every molecule in my body unites and screams: Be free!

But I’m not free. I have an outgoing flight in 3 days. I’m on day two of my unplanned world tour and yet, I’m stuck. I’m stuck in a bus. I’m stuck with a plane ticket. For three days, I’m stuck with a plan. And I’m reasonably sure that no one with a plan has ever felt so restless.

The bus descends into a large valley that leads to the sea. I see a small town in the distance. It’s early evening and the sun is getting lower. The light is getting redder. It stops at a diner that doubles for a bus station; the doors hiss open and I quickly grab my bag. Two girls are doing the same. There’s a campground across the street and one of them has a tent dangling from her pack. I knew I would forget to bring something important.

The air is cool as I walk down the crumpling asphalt. To my right, I can see the church, its white walls and red roof radiate atop a rich green hill. Further in the distance, a huge field of yellow and purple buttercup flowers gradually grows in height. I am energy. Again, I want to run. Just dump my bag and run. But I can’t. For more than a year this bag is my home. And you can’t throw away a home.

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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