Very cool. Read this.


I still haven’t developed my pictures from Iceland yet, but here’s something from Jaime’s camera that I was thinking about today.

On our fourth day in the country we drove to the Westfjords, which involved lots of exciting things like crossing the mountains on a pitted gravel track in our dinky rental car, and then winding our way around the fjords to Ísafjörður.

As Jaime was driving along, I was looking out the window and happened to see some seals sitting on rocks in the fjord. “Focas!”, I shouted, and Jaime slammed on the brakes and pulled an illegal u-turn. If I had to count how many times we stopped short and turned around in the middle of the highway to go back and look at something interesting, I would run out of hands and feet to count them on. It sounds really dangerous, but not when you can see a kilometer in both directions and there are no other cars in sight.

We stopped at a little pull-off where there was a picnic table with a plastic storage box on top. We ran across the road to get a better view of the seals, and it wasn’t until we came back that we thought to look at the box. It was nailed to the table and the lid was held down with a rock. Inside were some binoculars, two jars of homemade blueberry jam for sale, a small box for donations, and a guestbook. All of this was provided by the good people of Hvítanes (which as far as we could see consisted of two or three farmhouses) for people who stopped to look at the seals. You can’t see them in the second picture, but there were about half a dozen sitting on the rocks to the middle left.

I actually teared up a bit, looking through the contents of the box. The whole day had been overwhelmingly full of beauty; each time we rounded a fjord we cried “It’s so beautiful! More beautiful than the last one!” I wasn’t really prepared to deal with such a display of generosity for its own sake. I sniffed a bit and felt good about mankind. We left all the money we had on us.