Agent, we have a situation and we need you in the field!
-But, ma´am, it has been months since my last field assignment and I´m already accustomed with sitting at the desk!
Agent, you are the best we have and we really need you on this one...it´s...Hvalfjörður...and besides you won´t be alone, Daniela will be the environmental messenger for this mission!
It was a calm, warm and sunny Thursday afternoon when our team - the five of us, arrived at Hvalfjörður. Genuine was our surprise when we saw the facilities where we were supposed to be staying at – a big, white two-story house right by the so called Salmon river, surrounded by mountains. Birds flying high and low, nurturing the newborns, sheep smoothly roaming the plains, cows and horses lazily chewing up the grass, soo green.
After settling in and doing a small sightseeing hike to familiarize ourselves with the surroundings we organized the cooking and cleaning teams, played some games and went to bed early to wake up well rested for the next days work.
With German-like precision at 9:30 in the morning two cars strolled into the parking lot to take us to the work site, the doors opened and we were greeted by three enthusiastic, happy and cheerful Icelandic youngsters, soon-to-become our very dear and good friends.
After a ten-minute drive we found ourselves by a lake, with crystal clear, glittering water, again surrounded by mountains. A road was stretching by the side of the lake and our task was to make the preparations for a walking path soon-to-be built in parallel to this road so the people could hike and enjoy the scenic landscapes of the area by not having to worry about the bypassing traffic. The walking path was a little bit less than one kilometer in length, we were evening and smoothing out the ground, removing rocks and on our way saving birch trees that were later to be replanted elsewhere – a task very appealing to Daniela. The distance was long however we were joined by three more Icelandic teenagers that were eager to lend a helping hand.
During the work hours we were really starting to get into routine, but not a routine in the traditional sense, more like a dynamic, filled-with-fun type of a routine. Every day while working we had an outstanding lunch at the local coffee house which was always followed by a brief siesta, roundtable discussion and the “banana dance”.
We felt very welcome in Hvalfjörður and we were shown great kindness by all the people around us – we were taken on fishing trip, sightseeing on a farm, horseback riding, we swam in ice-cold river, we hiked to the tallest waterfall in Iceland, went to Þingvellir national park, bathed in hot river and too many other things to count of which none would be possible without the amazing people of Hvalfjörður.
On the last day our lovely hostess invited us over to try out traditional Icelandic cuisine, we had an amazing party, brennivín and rotten shark was definitely everyones favorite.
I will take the liberty to speak for all of us and say that we will never forget our time here in Hvalfjörður as there is something magical in this place.
In conclusion an interesting revelation - crossing a river in Iceland can be dangerous not only because of the strong currents but also because of angry fishermen.
Davis, SEEDS Workcamp Leader
Daniela, SEEDS Environmental Messenger