Friday, June 6, 2014

Þhingvellir (That's Not a P)

Weird highlighting abounds! Why? Because Blogger <3

Day 4

After doing battle with the Elves, Hidden People, and Outlaws the night before at KEX (I was a Troll, of course), we were given a well-deserved morning to sleep in: breakfast at 9:30 AM, which is better than 6:45 AM so woot woot! I actually got up on time to have a hearty breakfast this morning. Win for me!

All of today was spent at Þingvellir ("Þ" makes the "th" sound in English, like in "theory") National Park. Is that a bad thing? Heck to the no, mis amigos! Google Translate told me that "Þingvellir" means "Congress Fields." Þingvellir is where Iceland's parliament used to gather yearly to make decisions for the country so the name is fitting. After hiking a bit through the lands and finding that tourists had a weird fixation for throwing their hard earned money into the park's rivers, we were split intwo two (ha!) groups to continue on with the day. One group would go tectonic plate snorkeling first and then caving second. Can you guess what the other group did? If not, just keep reading and find out since I was in the "other" group. Yashari Safari doesn't punish those with a lack of deductive reasoning! <3

As all the n00bs went snorkeling, my group went caving in Gbakkahellir, also known as the "Little Girl" cave. The name comes from a story about a girl who got lost in the cave, reappeared several kilometers outside of the cave, and had her sandals full of dinero! Unfortunately, I did not leave the cave any richer than I already was, but I did avoid being sucked into limbo and spit out several kilometers away from the group by some ethereal being. Optimism, guys. Although this cave was very cool to go through, since it had been formed by a lava flow, it was dwarfed a bit by the caving excursion that the bros experienced on night 2. Something about the small group, independence, and sheer exhaustion made it untrumpable. Oh well!

One of the fun facts that we learned while taking a break in the cave was that Iceland was actually the ideal location to film all the Lord of the Rings films (all hail Tolkien). Our guide was telling us that Peter Jackson's children were babysat by an Icelandic woman, who told them old Icelandic tales which involved the elves, trolls, and other Icelandic beings from their fairy tales. As Jackson heard these stories, he adopted them in his painting of Middle Earth's landscapes, creatures, and languages. So the obvious choice for filming would be Iceland! There was just one itsy bitsy problem: Jackson wanted to have a variety of horses in the films as war mounts, beasts of labor, etc. Unfortunately, Icelandic law prohibits importing any breed of horse in order to guarantee the purity of Icelandic horses. So that's why the films took place mainly in New Zealand. JUST LOOK AT THEM! THEY'RE SO CUTE AND STOCKY! 

Never call them ponies. They're horses. PC: Justin McKay
To wrap up the expedition, we took a picture we thought was clever:
Here's the picture my group managed in the cave. PC: Paige McIlroy
Here's the other group's picture... #onlyonthegreenprogram. Yes, they are superior. PC: AJ Loudermilk
After that, we moved on to snorkeling! Now snorkeling is fun in its own right, but when you're snorkeling between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, it gets a bit more intense. Add on the fact that you're swimming in just above freezing water and the feels start to pour in. Actually, if you got a functioning dry suit and put it on correctly, the feels from the freezing water would have been nullified. This is one of the steps to get the suit on (facial expression required):

So if THIS isn't the Quality Picture of the Day... PC: Rachel Gibson
Unfortunately, my arms got completely soaked, but the rest of my body was so warm and cozy that I didn't mind. Actually, I think I would've been happier if my body had gotten completely soaked because then I would've been a trooper like Dani Moskowitz and jumped into the water in my underwear (after the group trip). The experience was absolutely wild and I wish I could've taken pictures to share. Also, the head instructor thinks I'll be famous one day so he asked for my autograph. Hooch is crazy!

We gathered up both groups, got on the bus, and headed back to Hotel Hlid for dindin and capstone project work time. At this point, my group knows what we're doing, but I think I'll leave out all the details until the end. Also, tonight is the last night at Hotel Hlid! We'll be moving on to grander things tomorrow!

Quality Picture of the Day:
Justin just can't keep himself away. PC: Rachel Gibson

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