Sunday, August 3, 2014

our icelandic summer

Silja has started the countdown to Denmark. Almost every day she is asking, and today the answer is 12. In 12 days we board the plane for Denmark, and I am so excited I can instantly spit the number out when she asks because I have already thought about it ahead of her.

I've tried to write about the time we currently spend in Iceland, but I never manage to feel I get it right. I stop halfway, when there is still so much to tell. Maybe it's because it feels like we're on holiday and I'm caught up in a really good book, and don't have the patience to sit down by the computer, and probably it also something to with the fact that this time is a strange in-between limbo that has its great and tough moments to it, and it's hard to catch that complexity in words.
So instead of failing with another post with a lot of words, here's a list of the good and the bad and the in-between experiences and observations for our little family of four.

On the upside:

  • To go the outdoor thermal pools and hotpots is ah-mazing, and can almost convince me that actually moving here is a brilliant idea. (The long dark winter is a tough one to swallow for me though in the ongoing discussion about potentially living in Iceland.) 
  • Having a car (Bjarnis parents are spending the summer in Turkey and we get to borrow their car, which is so nice). And man, what a luxury after having to always rent and plan well in advance. Hello spontaneity!
  • Going on trips. With limited time comes the drive to go and see and do things and not waste time just sitting around. Every weekend we have packed a suitcase and headed out of Reykjavik to spend the weekend somewhere else (mostly with relatives), and its been fantastic to see so many different places.
  • To see Silja take in and become familiar with things Icelandic: Eating and loving skyr and dried fish, drawing geysers and teaching me to distinguish the berries (blueberries and crow berries), Bjarnis has already taught her.
  • Getting comfortable driving again. I started driving when we lived in Los Angeles, and was under HARD pressure from Bjarni to even start back then. Five years has past since LA and I haven't been driving since. Until I came here, and this car was just standing there waiting for me to transport me and the kids to places that are beyond walking distance. I got my driving confidence back!
  • Catching up with friends. We are so lucky to have such good friends here although we just pop in for short time here and there, and often with long time in between. Some are from our time in Copenhagen and others are Bjarni's old friends, who have become our friends, and who are always thoughtful to speak English when I'm around. I'm so so thankful for them.   
On the tough side: 
  • Mainly adjusting to new surroundings and routines. We live in a 3-storey house which is not very well suited for little kids with many stairs and a very fancy living room full of antique furniture. With an unusually cold and rainy July it has sometimes been a challenge being comfortable in this space, when outside time has been limited. We have borrowed some toys from the kids' cousin Villy, which has been great. 
  • A full-time mommy in a "new" city: I'm with the kids during the week, when Bjarni goes to work and although I already knew Reykjavik and our neighbor pretty well, I've had to learn where to go and what to do with kids. By now (especially with my new-found driving skills) I can quickly make plans according to the weather and our mood, but in the beginning it was at times overwhelming how to manage all this time in an enjoyable way for all of us.
  • Silja's limited Icelandic is making it difficult to make new friends. She has for long refused to speak Icelandic, and now when we are here and everyone around her speaks Icelandic, it's difficult for her to play with other kids. I can see she is missing the interaction with others her age beyond brief and superficial play. That is probably also why she is so excited about Denmark, because she knows she can easily communicate with everyone. 
  • We spend a lot of time listening to Bjarni, who is surprised, shocked, in disbelief, about how things have changed compared to how it used to be when he was a child or when he lived in Iceland. The trees are taller, the city has grown, the buildings and shops have changed/are gone, the whole island is full of tourists (and it really is).  It's been about 15 years since he left, so no wonder things look different. I find all his anecdotes and stories quite cute (- and who knows... maybe it will be my turn to burst out in surprise when we get to Denmark, so I'm a patient listener...)
Although there is just 12 days left, and I continue to be excited about the countdown, I know this will be a summer we will look back on for long. Even though the kids are still so young, this is bound to be a reference for them later as they get older, and we talk about what they have done in Iceland.

The pictures are from last weekend's trip to the Westfjords, where stayed with good friends in a summerhouse and celebrated Silja's 4th birthday. 
The berry hunter is explaining...
Oversæt til dansk