06 August 2010

Iceland, an extrospective retrospective

I'm in Berlin! I didn't get to my room until 3 in the morning, and then I fell asleep. Anyway this is what I wrote in Keflavík airport:

Last time, on Loosest Translation: Dustin waits for his last Icelandic friend.

I found him. His name was Halldur. He drove me to several nice places. But I didn't have a great time; we just never really seemed to click. I don't know exactly why. He was 28 and had been in the workforce and things; perhaps that was the problem? Or perhaps we just didn't have a lot in common? Maybe he was kind of a boring person? It's unclear.

But! We went to dinner at the American Style Restaurant, which is a chain of restaurants around Reykjavík. I ordered the Heavy Special (a bacon cheeseburger) with fries and a coke. The amazing thing about the American Style Restaurant is that they offer free refills on your tiny, tiny glass of coke. This is what makes the style American.

Halldur lived near the people I was staying with, so I was able to get a ride back with him. We picked up a hitchhiker whose name was Aleksandr. Yes, we picked up a Russian hitchhiker. We conversed in English, and he kept saying things like "I am very much hate Putin." That really is how Russians speak, when they do not know English very well. The Russian had come to Iceland to work, for reasons that are not entirely clear, as there are no jobs in Iceland. He was interested in my views on American politics, and he was very supportive of my plan to visit Russia. We dropped him off.

The people with whom I had left my luggage were couchsurfers. They had accidentally accumulated 11 guests for last night: A Swedish woman and her grandson, a Dutch woman living in NYC, an Austrian woman and her Flemish husband and her only-Austrian-German-speaking parents, three Polish girls, and me. It was epic. I'll have a picture as soon as they send it to me.

Couchsurfers, it turns out, are pretty much the best people. They are interesting and generous and enthusiastic and adventurous and kind. I mean, in my experience. Which is admittedly small. Davíð and I attempted to teach Risk to several of them, with varying levels of success (we ended up ending our game in a truce because of the late hour). We spoke of many things. But apparently nothing very memorable, because I don't seem to have any content of these conversations to relate to you.

My second hitchhiking experience went much better than my first. In fact, I was picked up 5 minutes after I walked out the door, before I had even reached the highway. My saviour's name was Willi, and he was an airport employee. And he spoke English. He drove me to the departures area and waited around while I ran to get a cart. People are awesome.



The word for "yes" in Icelandic is "já," which is pronouned "yow" (or [jau], if you're a linguist). People often say jájájájá when they mean "okayokay." I just heard a man answer the phone with "já?". It is intensely cute.

"Ola" in Polish is a nickname for both "Olga" and "Aleksandra." That's weird.

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