Visiting Vestmannaeyjar we discovered one of Icelands' best kept secrets!
As our group of with Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, American and German volunteers caught a closer sight of the towering cliffs filled with birds reaching into the gleaming turquoise water, we realized that we arrived in a magical place.
We were welcomed by our hosts Frosti and Gisli from the Icelandic Boy and Girl Scouts and moved into our temporary home, a local sports centre. Our main task during this workcamp was the maintenance of two large campsites that the Boy Scouts were offering the guests of the festival, thereby supporting their activities for the Youth of the community throughout the year.
Our work schedule was divided into three phases, preparing the festival, maintaining during and cleaning up after the festival. We started by measuring and painting a parking lot and putting up fences around the campsites (in order not to disturb the neighborhood too much). Already two days before the festival started many campers arrived and we, including Icelandic Boy scouts/ volunteers, started cleaning away cans, bottles and trash in shifts twice a day.
When the festival itself started the campsites were packed with tents and people and we acted as sources of information as to where reception, showers and toilets can be found and we also had plenty of opportunities to meet Icelanders and learn about the unusual traditions of this special festival. During our entertaining night patrols around the campsites (to make sure the tents are not carried away by either the wind or some overly curious fingers), we watched the valley filling up with 18.000 people celebrating , we listened to the concerts and saw the bonfires and fireworks.
As soon as the music stopped on Monday morning and people left, we started to clean away the left trash which included tents, mattresses, sleeping bags, barbecues, chairs and countless random things. Further we took down the fences and finally celebrated the end of this work marathon! We started to have fun and our host provided us generously with many amazing activities like the Riffboat Safari, which took us to the uninhabited islands who lie around Heimaey to explore birdlife in the cliffs and many fascinating caves.
We also took part in a guided tour around the island and visited the crater of the volcano( which is still warm!) and the Pompeji of the north, an impressive sight.
We also saw many puffins and amazing sunsets on little hikes and had free access to the swimming pool. All in all this was a challenging but enriching experience that shaped us into a team, that was hard to say goodbye to, takk fyrir Vestmannaeyjar!