Wake up!” Katie shook my frosty sleeping bag. I wasn’t even asleep. “Northern lights!,” she shouted.
I had to push back my fur hood and take the toque from my eyes to see, but there they were, the Northern lights!
Even at this high latitude, the northern lights don’t come out too often, the locals here told us. I guess last night was just the perfect recipe: Two Canadians huddled together in the middle of nowhere next to some bails of hay on a clear and frosty night, just wishing on our way to sleep for the aurora borealis to come out and keep us some company.
We ended up in such a state due to our jet-lags and hangovers causing us to sleep in until 1PM, that first day. This time of year, way up here, the sun goes down around 5:30PM. This didn’t leave us much time to get to where we wanted to go – a town called Akureyri, 386kms North-East of Iceland’s capital. Our first ride came from a man with a truck full of codfish, who drove us a few kilometers in our desired direction to his place of business: a fish processing plant, where their traditions tell them to take the fish, dry them out for months and then do something involving a hammer, which turns them into a smelly snack called hardfisk. A bag of that is just what he left in our mittens on the side of the Icelandic highway with. The sun started to set at this point so the next vehicle that stopped for us we didn’t even ask a single question – we just threw our backpacks and bodies right in. As it turns out, asking this man questions would not have helped us as he did not speak a word of English. I will also add here, that we do not know a single word of Icelandic – a regretable fact, for sure, as our next drop-off spot was in the middle of the Icelandic country-side, where we were not able to understand most passers-by.
We looked very out-of-place with our large backpacks and big grins, and we asked around the gas station for people headed North for quite some time, which was funny to all of them. Then the night got still and the moon got bright and we trekked across the tundra to some bails of hay which looked like a good spot to lay down and settle-in for what was sure to be a long night – which it was, but thank heavens that I had all of my clothes on, a best-friend beside me, and the aurora borealis above me.