Iceland is a strange place. I don't think I spent nearly enough time getting to know her. I'm not even sure Iceland is a her. It's easy for me to anthropomorphize places, but Iceland was different.
Paris was a vain, thin woman. Rome was a dark featured man. Geneva was a boorish overweight lady. Israel was clearly a legion. But Iceland is a faceless green grey shadow. Fantastically distinct but difficult to pin down. It feels very very old, but has not been settled nearly as long as the rest of the world. It makes me imagine this cool, wild place with all that geothermal violence just under the surface, waiting patiently and quietly through most of human history. Not many animals, no bugs, a bit of woodland and maybe a few birds breaking up the silence. Just the rolling mountains and lava fields. Jagged spikes and heaving cracks gently softened and covered by green moss. The sun rose and set. The rains fell. And as far as we know, it was quiet.
Then a little wooden boat filled with violent men landed and the country got started. They imported animals, scratched little farms into the rock and slowly settled in. Around a thousand years later, I visit. There are buildings and industry and a university. There are people, culture and tourists like me. But there is a very obvious lack of a feeling a permanence.
It is a great country full of wonderful proud people speaking an ancient language. But the land sat quiet through all the ages and will do so once again. We are a blip in eternity. Busy for a moment then gone. She waited for us to come and is waiting for us to go. We are no more than a passing mist to her. You feel as if ay any moment she might tire of us crawling across her surface and reclaim her space from us. Nobody owns her, she tolerates us. For a while at least.