Sunday, 17 November 2013

Chance meeting

The journey back was blissful. The warm air on the coach and the smooth ride of the asphalt road had me dozing in a few minutes, my thoroughly relaxed body then slipped into a deep sleep as the grey, volcanic rock passed us by.

Iceland had proved to be a spectacular mix of curious and stunning, an unusual choice for us - usually preferring warmer climes and more exotic, spicier locations. We enjoyed the intimacy of Reykjavik. The bars and coffee shops were full of perfectly bilingual young people, wearing the heavy jumpers of their ancestors - thick, waterproof wool with diamond shaped patterns around the collar. You could almost smell the sheep as they walked past. We sipped ‘Gull’ beer, hung out because we could, ate strange and unacceptable foods. It was fun being wrapped up in coats in September, different.

With only four days of freedom we chanced the Blue Lagoon alongside the hoards of tourists alighting the coaches, most were Japanese, a few Brits and some Scandinavians. We queued with our stashed hotel towels in our rucksacks, as if we were backpackers, waiting for the wristbands with which we could order massages, coffee or beautifully packaged bottles of shampoo. We went our separate ways at the changing rooms to meet again shivering in our swimwear at the edge of the lagoon, three degrees outside and thirty-eight degrees in the water. The feeling was sensational, you could only but glide in gracefully and then bob around in the milky waters. A heavy mist hung over the pale blue liquid which hid mystical properties; to heal, to mend and to rid us of our wrinkles. We floated, walked slowly from one nook to another cranny, drank a beer and plastered white silica paste all over our faces, allowing it to dry and crack when we smiled. Three hours passed in this way.

My hair felt like straw from the minerals in the lagoon when I woke up at Reykjavik bus station. It was stiff, tangled and almost sticky even after three washings with conditioner. I felt dozy and sleepy as we stumbled off the bus to wait for a transfer to our hotel, waiting in the grey that is Iceland and the biting cold of the day.

A couple came striding towards us. The bearded man was looking at him, he was looking at the bearded man.

"Oh my god - it's the guy from accounts!" he said.

The bearded man walked up to my husband and shook him by the hand, he could have belonged to Iceland with his looks and outerwear. They chatted, my husband and him, laughing at the absurdity of meeting someone you know at Reykjavik bus station at five in the afternoon. We swapped tales of where we had been, how long we were here for, how we liked it and waved goodbye as our bus turned up.

"We should have arranged to meet up for a drink," I said.

"Didn't think of it," he replied, completely spun out.

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