In the interest of preserving memories and acting as a future guide, this series of posts reflects on adventures spent abroad- meaning, outside of my own community, wherever I might land. It serves not only as a record but also as an exercise in memory and language.
May 18, 2015
It was crisp when we drug ourselves out of bed. Pam gawked at the Euro-style shower- tub-less and open to the remains of the bathroom. She wrapped her hair up and took on the role of mother, loping off to the other room to wake up her sisters. I, on the other hand, relished my few minutes alone in the shower. The steam swirled around me as I peeked out the small window in the heavy wooden door. Guests were already monopolizing the stone-framed hot tub.
We criss-crossed the tiny towns around Fludir, passing farmsteads and the elementary school. Little blonde children shrieked and yelped from the playground across from an expanse of greenhouse tomatoes. “Those tomatoes are taller than we are,” Kim yawned. She was right. The tallest among us could have been no more than 5’6″ and these towered and craned their stalkish necks, bending against their glass confines. Their stems were nearly as wide as my wrist.
I am a terrible guide. If Louis and Clark had stumbled upon me versus Sacagawea, they would have ended up in Guatamala. In my defense, our miniscule gravel road played the St. Louis Street Name Game very hard and changed its moniker several times. Mea Culpa. Our search was for Braggin Clay and Stone cafe. “Seriously, you guys, I think it’ll be worth the drive. It’s an art cafe, they bake their bread using local flour, they sell house-made ceramics, dandelion cakes, rhubarb schnapps, mochas. ICELANDIC PANCAKES.”
“Ponnukokur?!” Melanie exclaimed. We had been on a hunt, per our trusty guidebook, for “homestyle Icelandic pancakes or, ponnukokur, with rhubarb jam (preferably homemade and organic” for several days. This would be worth the 30 or 40 minute drive, we reasoned. Pancakes.
The land around Bragginn is hilly farm country. Small fields nestled between jutting mounds of green while foot-deep channels marked their edges. Sheep and stout horses grazed along the steppes, hopping between the black earthy divides as they went. When we came upon Bragginn, a small sign in Icelandic was taped to the door. They are only open in summer, starting in July. It sat half-buried by the greening earth like a bunker.
|The lowlands on the way to Bragginn and Vik
photo courtesy of Braggin
|Bragginn Clay and Stone Cafe
photo courtesy of Bragginn
|photo courtesy of Bragginn|
|Viking Construction Worker Redux (Coincidentally, actor Hafthor Julius Bjornsson is Icelandic)|
|Kim and I in our wooden nook, looking like meals to Vikings|
|Just kidding, not this guy.|
Hella’s only mis-guidebook restaurant is linked to a small knitting shop. If you want homespun (literally) traditional sweaters, felted soaps, and goofy woolen ornaments, walk around the block. A couple of local women will be knitting the next sweater and the owner will stop to chat. These are sweaters like grandma used to make: wild colors, oversized, itchy but heartwarming.
The road to Vik is windy and mountainous as you make your way south. Our ominous GPS narrator had long since disappeared and had been replaced with Celine Dion, a tribute to our youths. She belted out 90’s hits as Melanie crooned along, the highs and lows following the dips of the roadways until we came upon Seljalandfoss.