The next day at language school, there was a new girl in our class from Germany. At the end of class she asked me if I wanted to hike Sólheimajökull with her on Saturday because she had already scheduled a trip with a guide (and her roomie from Switzerland). Colby looked at me, smiled, and said, “I’ll watch the kids!”
The weather called for 80% chance of rain, so I was in a bad mood this morning as I got up early to wait for my ride. Two hours later, however, God answered my prayer and the clouds broke apart to make for a gorgeous day to hike. The group ended up being around 10 people from 6 different countries with a guide, and we hiked for over three hours on the glacier.
The ride home did not go quite as I had expected.
Here’s the story if you so dare:
So, my classmate had mentioned that she was thinking about staying at a friend’s house out where we were hiking. She wasn’t sure exactly how we would get home from the glacier (over 2 hours away), but assured us that it would work out. She drove me and her room-mate, Evelyn, half way home and then dropped us off at a bus station to ride the bus the rest of the way home.
All was good; the sun was shining and we were chatting as we waited with a few others for the bus to come. I sensed something was wrong when the other people at the bus stop got up, checked the bus scheduled, groaned, then walked away.
I got up to see for myself…sure enough, the bus didn’t come every hour like we thought. How could this happen?! We had checked the bus schedule 3 times…
Evelyn didn’t hesitate. “We can just hitch-hike home,” she said casually. My eyes got big, and sensing my fear, she remarked, “Don’t worry…it’s very common here.”
I wasn’t so sure.
Trying to persuade me, she threw out a final comment that she knew would get me… “I thought you believed in God!” I sighed and rolled my eyes as we went to the edge of town, stood on the side of the road, and stuck out our thumbs. I felt like I was in one of the old stories my mom used to tell me of when she hitchhiked across Iowa in the 60’s. I decided to time how long this experience would last:
3 minutes pass. Car after car go past, slowing down only to look quizzically at us. Moms, with kids in the back, look at us regretfully. Older people look at us with confusion. They must be American tourists, I think to myself.
6 minutes pass. I wonder what these people are thinking of me right now. Are they not picking me up because they are suspicious of me? Maybe if I smile, they will trust me. Maybe if I hold up a sign that says, I am a mother of two small children and I just want to get home to tuck them in bed tonight, they’ll show some mercy. I flash my pearly whites to the next group of cars, but no one seems impressed.
8 minutes. Evelyn informs me that it’s usually not the nice cars that stop. The junky cars are our best bet. Oh Great, that’s real comforting…Then, I realize that I am being suspicious and judgmental…the very thing I’m hoping others won’t be towards me! *sigh*
11 minutes. The wind is starting to pick up and I am starting to get cold. Evelyn starts talking about going inside to take a break from the weather. I start to calculate in my head how long it would take to run/walk 61 kilometers back to Reykjavik. It’s going to be a long night…
13 minutes. How do I always get myself into these predicaments? Maybe this is what I get for all the times I have driven past poor hitch-hikers that I assumed were from America’s Most Wanted. I try to call Colby, but my cell phone has no service.
15 minutes. I am starting to doubt this Icelandic system of getting around.
At approximately 17 minutes, a young guy in a black truck pulled over and motioned us to hop in his car. In an effort to prove my confidence in God, I marched right up to the window and asked if he was going to Reykjavik. Of course, was his reply…(like, where else is there to go on this island?). I selfishly gave Evelyn shot-gun and slid into the back seat.
The conversation started out in Icelandic, but quickly moved to English as he inquired why in the world I would move to Iceland from the states. I explained that I was learning about religion in Iceland and he quickly opened up about his own beliefs which included a belief in fairies—or the hidden people—as they call it.
In fact, he pointed out, the hill to my right was believed to be occupied by fairies, and the road we were driving on had to be built around it. I asked if he also believed in trolls, but he dismissed it rather quickly, saying THAT WAS MERELY A FAIRYTALE.
My body was stiff as I listened to this stranger in whose hands held my very life and I tried to discreetly scan his left hand for a wedding ring. No luck. There were a lot of clothes and gear crowding me in the backseat, but underneath the debris, something caught my eye. Could it be…Oh, please be…Yes! A CAR-SEAT!
I inquired about his kids, and yes, he had four of them…and a great wife too. My neck began to relax and I smiled as we drove closer and closer to home…all the while hearing Mr. Family Man tell stories about his kids and his life. He dropped me off at the bus station and I thanked him for making my first hitch-hiking experience in Iceland an enjoyable one (Translation: thank you for not murdering me and burying my body in a fairy-hill). He waved and remarked, “Well…there aren’t that many lunatics in Iceland.”
And, for that I am thankful.