Sunday, September 24, 2017
On to Iceland
We were in Iceland three years ago and fell in love with the scenery, the people, the incredibly clean air. One way to get home from Dublin was via Iceland so we thought, "why not!" We rented a car and headed out. You can see far in Iceland. There are very few trees and there are many flat areas, covered with lava from one or another volcano. The steam rising from this mountain is from the earth and in many areas this geothermal heat and energy are used to create electricity and to provide hot water to homes.
Much of the land near the sea is very flat and is met suddenly by mountains. The mountains, bare of trees seem sculpted - their shapes undisguised.
While some sections are covered with grass or heavy moss, many parts are bare rock. Farms cover the grassy flat land. We stayed overnight on this farm. We were told that this area was covered with ash during the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull and saw a photograph of the farmer, face covered with a surgical mask, driving his animals to a place where they could find grass.
There is quite a bit of farming in Iceland. One big difference from Ireland is that most of the sheep are left to roam free on the mountain sides and in open fields. In September they are rounded up as they could not survive the winds of winter. While Iceland is quite far north, its climate is more temperate due to the gulf stream, but being an island in the North Atlantic, it is still subject to heavy rain and winds.
It is not uncommon to see small churches like this in very small communities. The entire population of Iceland is about 330,000 and about 200,000 of them live in the capital region in and around Reykjavik. From here the nearest village, Vik, has a population of just over 300 and is almost 50 km away.
Icelandic horses are still used on farms - you would not be able to round up the sheep with motorized vehicles. Dogs and horses are far more useful in the terrain where the sheep are. The sheep were due to be rounded up about ten days after we left the farm on September 1.