Camping in Iceland
The wind was down to 50 km per hour, we had just eaten the so called best hotdog in the world and picked up our Dacia Dokker camper van to hit the road, and hit the road we did. As soon as we left the not so spectacular Reykjavik behind, the sun began to shine. The world around us is white, white hills, white houses, white cars, white rivers, white mountains. Only the sky is painted blue.
An impressive amount of waterfalls is joining us on the way to Vik. Vik is a small town in the South Eastern side of Iceland. The village itself is bleak, colourless, empty. The first building we see is a bed and breakfast in decline. The whole village is in decline. The schools are empty, the lights are off, bodies of cars are abandoned. There are no restaurants, no people, no life. Desolated, deserted, or so it seems.
But there is one thing that attracts people to come to Vik, including us. That is the black beach, Reynishverfi. A beach so black, the waves crushing on the shores so white it almost looks like an Orio cookie. We are in luck as the wind here is about 62 km per hour which makes the sea restless, powerful, dangerous even. The wind rushes over the land, almost throwing us off the high cliffs overlooking the black beach. The sun sets, the waves rush over towards the land, the black beach is quiet, empty.
We continue our trip towards North East. The surroundings change, the mountains disappear. Everywhere we look is a dark beige marram grass and dark rocks. The white landscape has changed, the snow has melted, the icy waterholes have dissapeared and bright blue waterholes took there place. A plain welcomes us to Eastern Iceland. Empty except for some horses standing here and there, spread over the empty planes. Farms, empty, desolated. Ruined houses, maimed by nature. Rocks, rocks everywhere, as far as the eye can see the landscape is black, gigantic black rocks, spread over the small hills.
After a while driving through this magnificent landscape we decide to stop for camping. The sun is setting and we are preparing to cook dinner. Last week I have been to the movie ‘The Wild’, laughed out loud at her ridiculous preparations for a very long walk. Now I was reminded of the movie. Camping and preparations never work out for me. I am never really prepared and though I love camping somehow it always goes wrong. As did today. As soon as we try to cook we find out that we have no lighter. I even try to find a way to use the gas without a lighter but without any luck. No lighter simply means no fire and no fire means cold hotdogs. No warm dinner for us tonight. While I’m preparing a plan B meal, which is nothing more than crisps and dry bread, RJ drops a beer can. “We can still drink that” I say, never want to spill anything, and get two cups. We cheer to Iceland with half a beer in a somewhat dirty plastic cup and soon get into our sleeping bags as the cold creeps into our bones. Our first night camping went slightly different than planned.
The wind lulls the car, making music. Wobbling onto the rhythm of the wind we fall asleep. Not long after, we awaken. Hailstones hit the car, harder, louder, faster, aggressive. The wind, the rain, the hail beat against the Dacia. The violence of the hailstones crush the car while we anxiously keep our eyes closed. The wind smashes against it, the hail crushes down on top of it. I am afraid the car can’t hold, the window will break under this extreme weather condition. Suddenly it stops. Only the wind continues to hit the car from the side. I’m relieved and I’m sure RJ is too. The car gets a couple more hailstorms to overcome. Scared I’m curled up in my sleeping bag, dreaming of storms, hills with eyes and murderous animals surrounding the car.
Sleepy I open the door of the car. The landscape hasn’t changed. I’m not sure what I had expected but I’m relieved everything is where it is supposed to be. The stream in the river seems to be going faster, the moss is only a little wet, the wind is gentle and the air is fresh and somehow a bit warm. It feels like this storm only happened in my dream. After more dry bread I start the car, the road is waiting for us, Iceland has yet to be explored, by us.