In July, 2022 my husband and I finally got to go on the MHC Alumnae Association trip that we had signed up for in 2020: “Circumnavigation of Iceland.” We took the 3-day pre-tour land trip with excursions from and around Reyjavik and then boarded the small charter ship. Le Bellot, with 110 passengers for 7 days circumnavigating the country, stopping each day in one or two ports for great views and mostly hiking tours. We were the only ones from MHC on the trip, but many told us they or family members went to MHC.
It was a wonderful trip despite my light-weight ankle support waterproof hiking boots (especially bought for the trip) catching on the grommets in the Iceland airport, causing me to fall and bruise my ribs. Because we came a day early in case we missed plane connections, I had a day to rest and ice before the tour began.
First stop on the pre-tour the next day was a soak in The Blue Lagoon, a lake-sized hot springs just outside Reykjavik. It was created by mistake with outflow waters from the adjacent thermal power plant. The water was full of silica which sealed the porous lava allowing the water to collect. Very soothing to my sore ribs! Ahhh. Two accidents collide: my ribs and the lagoon. With Tylenol and Arnica I was able to enjoy the land tours.
Highlights included walking the rift between the American and Asian tectonic plates, stepping inside the arctic circle, learning about the land formation under the ice due to volcanic activity, and seeing the most recent lava flow. We were intrigued by the Herring Museum in a very small town that had boomed to 20,000 people in the early 20th century, 1903-1968. Women would come from all over Iceland in the summer to de-gut the herring and earn good wages. They could go home and be independent. Because of that, Icelandic women got the vote in 1917 before we did! The town overfished the herring and the town population shrank. They and all of Iceland have responsibly fished ever since.
A wonderful event happened unexpectedly on the last day of the cruise because we couldn't get into port due to rough seas. We were supposed to go to a lagoon with floating icebergs and boat among them, as well as walk among icebergs on a black sand beach. Instead, the captain sailed the ship slowly for a view of the lagoon and beach and then stayed with a moving (in both senses) view of the glacier for hours, something we wouldn’t have seen if we had visited the lagoon. The glacier was huge, magnificent, otherworldly. At dinner we still had that view. The sun came out and reflected a path to our ship. I was mesmerized all day. I felt connected to the universe, like I did when we saw a total solar eclipse at sea. I felt opened, felt transformed internally. What a gift out of our disappointment. There’s always something!
When we looked on the map of Iceland to see where we had been, we discovered our amazing view was of only a tiny fingertip of the largest glacier in Iceland covering about 1/3 of the country!
Meg Harlor (Mickey Herz at MHC)