I write to you on a cold wintry night from a luxury hotel room in Southern Iceland.
A storm is raging outside my window, which overlooks the world-famous black-sand beach found just beside the small fishing village of Vík í Mýrdal. Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.
The wind is lethal and the waves are hellish. But I wouldn’t want to be any other place right now but here. I’m back in Iceland completing the final details for the retreat in June as well as trying to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
There’s no chance of the Lights tonight not with this cloud cover and thick wet air. But I’m not complaining. I’m grateful to be here. I’m grateful to be able to follow my dreams.
While here, I’ve been posting on IG about my adventures as I’ve been experiencing frustrations like mini geysers. But I’m looking at these as periods of growth.
Did you check out the mention in the first paragraph of ‘luxury hotel’? This wasn’t the plan. I try to do the things I want to do within budget. This trip was conceived on the cheap with stays in hostels. While here, I got to thinking about going south, of returning to Vik about 180kms from Reykjavik.
I remember my first time here, back in May 2016. I was blown away by the black sand. I couldn’t get my head around it. And I just dug my toes in and giggled as I felt the cold rush of waves. I fell in love.
So I return. I booked a guesthouse for an overnight stay. Not even half way here, weather warnings go out. Storm coming in about 3pm. Okay enough time to get to Vik, this is 11.30am. Next stop, no. Storm coming in at 2pm. Still 80kms away from Vik. It’s just after 1pm. The pressure is on to get safely to my place of rest. The beach can wait until tomorrow, at this rate.
Trying to keep calm and focused, I drive on. The heavens open. The wind thrashes and I’m still driving. Fog moving in. I could start to panic right about now. But I keep my head.
I managed to get to Vik and locate the guest house. Has anyone seen Rising Damp? 70s British sitcom about lodgers in a rundown house with Leonard Rossiter as a vindictive landlord called Rigsby? Well that’s what this guesthouse reminds me of. Not sure about the landlady as I don’t hang around long enough to find out.
Will I ever learn! Anyone who’s followed my adventures will remember a similar situation when I visited Malaga in 2016. Book a place, cheaper than the rest with good reviews but turns out to be useless. Hence, staying in a luxury hotel tonight.
This experience holds many truths and lessons to be learned.
One, it reminds me of a time with my mum, when I was returning back to London after Christmas. Mum came with me, as I had to find a new place to live after a breakup with a boyfriend. I was teacher training, so looking for a room in a house. While we looked, I booked us into a guesthouse. We ended up in a smelly attic, in a double bed and all I can remember is mum saying, Don’t let the covers touch your face, Sheree, for God’s sake, don’t let them go anywhere near it. I can still hear her now after 18 years dead. Mum booked us into a B and B for the following night with a shower and TV. We laughed hard that night.
Two, how I relish my solitude, my own space. So hostels are out if longer than one night’s stay. But I also have standards, something I keep forgetting. Or more profoundly, there must be something within me that believes I don’t deserve to have better than I‘ve been giving myself. Allowing myself.
Three, it’s a big risk and commitment, leaving home and coming to a strange new country. I suppose I forget this. I’m getting used to travelling to Iceland, to travelling internationally alone. I’m not sure when I started this habit. Maybe while completing my PhD (2004 -2010), I was invited to speak in New York, Boston and Leon etc. It’s a practice but performed over time.
I’ve been neglecting this fact. Other people, other women, might not be used to travelling alone internationally. Might not have practiced it as much as me.
Hence booking up to run away with me to Iceland for a creative retreat is a big ask. A big ask and a big risk which I haven’t really appreciated until now.
So I thank you for coming with me on my retreats and adventures. Your presence is appreciated.
Anyway, enough from me for now. There’s a bottle of beer and bar of chocolate with my name on. I deserve them.
Until next time
Love Sheree x