Posing for the camera

I was experimenting with taking macros on my pocket camera and the big camera got in the way:

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Unlucky tourists

Occasionally my family, or lately just my parents and I, will get in the car and go for a drive. Sometimes we go somewhere specific, but we also like to casually explore an area. This usually takes the form of driving along the highway and going down likely side-roads to see where they lead.

Around mid-August we went on one such exploration, on which one side road yielded something unexpected: tourists in trouble. Icelanders like to say that tourists are always getting into trouble in their rental cars because they have no experience driving in Icelandic conditions and therefore underestimate the potential for getting into scrapes. (The truth is that Icelanders get into similar scrapes, even people with years of driving experience in the country. We just don’t talk about it).

On this particular occasion I think the guy was just unlucky, as evidenced by the fact that he got stuck on the way back, not the way down, and that just after we pulled the car out of the sand trap, three more cars, none of them 4WD vehicles, made it across the sand trap with no problem at all.

These people only spoke Spanish, a language none of us speaks (I know how to order beer, but that’s about it), but it’s amazing how far you can get with gestures and international vocabulary.

Here is a photo of the rescue operation:

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Here’s a second photo of the car, showing the kind of road we were on:

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Vertigo

I suffer from height-induced vertigo and can become quite dizzy when the horizon is suddenly cut off from my line of sight. It wasn’t a problem during the Glymur hike I posted about recently, because as long as I can see a slope, however steep, I’m okay, and none of the hike takes you right to the edge of the gorge (unless you take one of the hair-raising older trails).

It is only when I’m faced with a vertical drop that the dizziness comes. For example, I took these photos of Krísuvíkurbjarg kneeling about 5 meters from the edge (kneeling lessens the dizziness, perhaps because of the changed perspective). Any closer, and I would have had to lie down, or otherwise I might possibly have lost my balance completely and tumbled over the cliff.

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This is a beautiful and magnificent cliff face, and the photos really don’t do it justice:

 

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Farther along the road to the cliffs is this lighthouse, but the road is very bad and because my mother tends to get car-sick on bad roads we turned back at this point of the cliffs.

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

For me, one of the signs that summer is coming is when these large wading birds appear in the city, happily pecking in the grass on the traffic verges and islands and blithely ignoring the traffic.

Most of the oystercatchers in Iceland are migratory, but you can see some non-migratory oystercatchers on the shores of south and west Iceland year round, including on some beaches within the greater Reykjavík area.

The Icelandic and Faeroese name for this bird is tjaldur. It is the national bird of the Faeroe Islands.

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Lookout point

The landscape in some places in Iceland, especially where it’s fairly level and there aren’t many really high points, is dotted with what look like tussocks of grass that protrude up from what high points there are, e.g. hummocks. These are lookout points on which birds have been perching and pooping for so long that they have little by little risen above the surroundings. The higher they get, the more popular they become as lookout points, and the more popular they become, the faster they rise. They tend to be conical in shape, but this unusual example is cylindrical and looks like a small grassy tower.
Unfortunately the bird flew before I could snap a photo.

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