Sunday, November 27, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Me, sitting in a garbage dump
A few days ago I opened my front door and realized that the yard was flooded in pink water. The pink water came up to the doorstep and was about a foot deep. When I looked closer at the water I noticed little shrimp body parts – little legs, little tails, and little heads – bobbing in the pink water. About 20 yards away I saw a busted pipe spewing the shrimp waste. The shrimp factory next door had a busted pipe and shrimp stew was flooding the yard. It found its way into the laundry room, which still smells shrimpy, before the pipe got fixed and the fire department came and sprayed our yard down with a hose.
Shrimp Juice at my doorstep
In our last class, Iceland Environment Natural Resources, we took a bus trip to Bolungarvik, an old fishing village, to look at antiquated fishing techniques, and then to Skalavik, a beautiful beach at the bottom of a fjord.
Having an internationally-focused approach to natural resource management, students in my program come from all over. We have a lot of Americans and Canadians, some Germans and Icelanders, and others coming from Holland, Spain, England, Finland, China, Israel, Australia, et al. Having an eclectic, multi-national mix brings a various viewpoints and experiences to approaches to natural resource management. And it allows us to make fun of each other when we let shine our respective stereotypes.
I’m still exploring the area on foot and bike – finding new things to do when not studying. Right now the weather is cooperative enough to hike where I want and camp, but that time is coming to an end. Fortunately the views are good enough to make a hobby out of sitting on a bench in town with a pair of binoculars.
Last weekend a group of students and me went to a lady’s farm an hour and a half away from Isafjordur to help her herd her sheep. She has around 300 sheep that she butchers and sells for meat once a year to feed her small family. The sheep are free range and graze throughout her very large valley. This requires lots of man labor to round them up. We camped there on Friday night. It was nice to test the durability of my sleeping bag in Iceland for the first time, although the weather was quite nice and wasn’t completely representative of a typical September night in the Westfjords. Anyways, we had fun sipping beer and whiskey around a campfire (a rare occasion in a treeless land), playing guitars and harmonicas. The next day we spent divided up into herding teams and spent the next six hours finding and moving sheep. My team was assigned a very steep mountain/valley where a few sheep had wandered to. I made a video of the day, which you at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3K6hdxsgdg. It was fascinating, interesting hard work that I really enjoyed but felt all through my muscles the next two days.
Sarah, Scott, and Clasina, during sheep herding campout
Following my final exam in Oceanography – my first exam in seven years – our class took a field trip to the Southern Westfjords. We went for practical reasons; visits to a salmon farm, a calcareous seaweed business, a museum, and a meeting with a municipality mayor. But we got some good exposure to Icelandic natural phenomena as well; a visit to Dynjandi (one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen), hiking in Látrabarg which is a future national park with 100 meter cliffs and a seasonal breeding ground for puffins, gulls, and other seabirds (this is currently not that season), and a walk among a vast coastal delta/beach called Rauðisandur.
Traditional Icelandic Fishing Gettup
Latrabarg - cliffs and bird nesting
Raudisandur Beach Survey
We stayed the night in a nice but lonely hotel. We partied pretty hard that night and then at 2:00am we jogged twenty minutes down to the shore and jumped into the numbingly cold North Atlantic breakers. I decided not to shower and woke up salty and sandy.
Now its Monday and I’m in my third course – Integrated Coastal Zone Management – taught by a professor from British Columbia and I find it quite stimulating.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
So anyways I will update this blog as long as I have something interesting to say, which, considering I will be doing little else than reading text books in a cold, dark, isolated corner of the world, may not be often.