Monday, 31 July 2006
The fairly amazing Icelandic ambient group Sigur Rós played an outside concert last night in the heart of Reykjavik. I walked to the Miklatún park with Valentina, her friend Telma from across the street and a sleeping Óðinn to take part in what was sure to be a much talked about local event (i.e. something you wouldn't want to admit you missed due to laziness or apathy). It's only a fifteen minute walk from our home to the park, but it was an interesting journey...people of all shapes and sizes streamed from all directions and funneled into the park, gathering into an estimated fifteen thousand-strong crowd by ten p.m. I didn't even try to get up close to the stage, so no pix of the band, but I liked the seriousness and cool of these young gents who climbd a sculpture to get a better view.
Saturday, 22 July 2006
Friday, 21 July 2006
This is Seljalandsfoss in the south, a quarter mile off the main road just east of Hella. The cool thing about this falls is that you can walk behind it (if you look closely at the photo you'll see people in the shelf under the cliff.) Valentina and I walked behind when we went on our road trip three years ago. Since it was a beautiful day we rolled up our pant legs and went barefoot and bare armed along the muddy path. The parka-ed and hiking booted tourists thought we were a lttle nuts and took pictures of us: the local wildlife.
Thursday, 20 July 2006
Tuesday, 18 July 2006
My grandmother Ásta Beck is the last surviving child of Hans and now, in her 94th year, her little family home is being overwhelmed by a massive aluminum smelter just across the road. Only meters behind where I stood to take this photo is a massive continuously buzzing electrical power generator site and a small shack that houses the Alcoa Project Office.
Not being a resident of the Eastern fjords, I had until now reserved judgement on whether or not the smelter was a practical improvement for the region. After all, it is creating many many jobs for the locals. Even the smelter itself across the road from this family heirloom wasn't as obnoxious a site as I thought it would be, buil into the slope of the hill as it is. But the generator site, twice at least the size of this simple cottage is an absolute abomination. It's a noisy and ugly peice of infrastructure that Alcoa unfortunately had the temerity to plonk down side by side with a house protected by the National Museum of Iceland. Which begs the question why no one tried any harder to stop this from happening. A relative of mine, one Guðmundur Beck at least tried. Maybe the mystic who once lived there and who protects the fjord will give him an otherworldly helping hand...
Update, June 2012: My grandmother Ásta Beck passed away last year in her 98th year, seven years after her last surviving brother, Unnsteinn Beck. She was the absolute matriarch of our extended family and is very much missed. She lived to see the complete and careful renovation of her childhood home, though, sponsored in main by Alcoa.
Regarding the benefit to the local Reyðafjörður community, I've had the chance in the past six years to chat with various people from or living in Fjarðabyggð. Almost all of them agree that the aluminum smelter has done nothing but add to the life and livelihood of the region.
Sunday, 16 July 2006
Thursday, 13 July 2006
Friday, 7 July 2006
Tuesday, 4 July 2006
The following day we picked up Valentina, who was bussed into town around noon from her summer camp at Ástjörn and hit the road on the way to a family reunion on the east coast. On our way we stopped at the Námafjall fumarole/sulpher zone (video), where the earth's bowels ooze and steam to surface in bubbling pits of brimstone. The tourists thought we were nuts for bringing the baby out of the car, exposing him as we were to wind and stench and mudpits, but he's an Icelander and this land, sulpher zones included, is his to learn to love.