Debbie Sinai at the breathtaking Detifoss waterfall in Iceland. “It was my favorite,” she says

Story and photos by Debbie Sinai

Well, nearly.  It is as close as I think I will ever get.  It is a real experience climbing over the boulders and large rocks, and then there is landscape that is calm and flat with greenery and tiny budding flowers.  G-d made a selection and a celebration of landscapes in Iceland. And I felt so close to Him there.

Actually, I felt that I was experiencing The Creation there. Well, partially, at least.  Such beauty of nature, with the Atlantic Ocean surrounding us, the immense promontories luring up at the edges to protect this amazing island … and tiny pink buds shaking in the wind, determined to survive.

The landscape is so diverse among these small specimens of life insistent upon surviving in the harsh weather conditions, and the dark lava boulders and rocks, resulting from the eruption of the volcanoes and cooling...a process of thousands of millions of years.

It was here in Iceland, near the crater of Askja, that the Americans sent their astronauts in 1967, to practice their upcoming mission of “walking on the moon”.  So it is not without reason that I felt the same, before knowing that NASA had had the same idea!

The pristine scenery is breathtaking.  Enormous waterfalls are ubiquitous.  It is difficult to say which is more powerful than the next.  The approaches are well appointed so it is not difficult to reach many from the road and from their approximately 1-2 km walks.

The surrounding stones and lush greenery create images and associations. I could imagine “totempoles” and several kinds of animals...I might venture to say that Dettifoss waterfall was my favorite...there I found a stone in the shape of the State of Israel!

Jewish presence can be felt even in the most remote areas of the world ... the Gulfoss waterfall which looks to be shaped like the State of Israel

One of my favorite areas was Myvatn, complete with the results of volcanic activity, lake, and mountain scenery with wild flowers.  The Icelandic Yule Lads country is in this area, in Dimmuborgum, where after an easy walk, on the edge of the path, a Cauldron met my eye. 

Up ahead, a large wall of stones, reminiscent of a castle facade remains, with a hole in the center made me feel like I was in Macbeth country, and I would meet the three witches any minute.  My imagination was working overtime.

"Walking on the moon” occurred most tangibly where lunar topography is in abundance, in Jokulsargljufur, Iceland’s greatest national park.  This is where, on the glacier, we rode on snowmobiles for an hour.  To the right, to the left, ahead and behind, one could only see ice.  My husband said that ten minutes of this would have been enough to get the idea. 

The noise of the snowmobiles only competed with my heartbeat which was somewhere way up in my throat.  We were given a 10-minute instruction and explanation by a very competent and genial boy in his 20s.  He was very relaxed and serene about the adventure.

I do not know enough adjectives to express how I felt the absolutely opposite.  One couple in the end, did capsize, which had been my fear.

Prior to the instruction and ride, we arrived over real moon landscape, in an 8x8 vehicle, bumping along beside and on top of the boulders, and finally arriving at the preparation station.

There we were dressed, each and every one of us in layers of warm thermal clothing...with helmets, beneath which we had to wear woolen caps. Layers of socks were worn underneath the special boots. 

The preparation building is one large room, with all of the protective gear available in all sizes, and very congenial teenage girls helped us to adjust them to our bodies. We were walking exactly like the astronauts do...straddling underneath all this protective apparatus.

Volcanic activity had formed the great park Jokulsargljufur, with a boost from gigantic glacial floods. Vesturdalur nature reserve in this great park, features rock formations in the shape of animals, and a rock wall with geometric designs – one of which looked like tablets of the Ten Commandments. 

A beautiful river flows in the nature reserve. Lovely little flowers and buds, greenery and birds are ubiquitous. Asbyrgi is a magnificent forest. Suddenly there is so much greenery.

 

A restaurant in the village of Husavik ... with a familiar symbol on the wall

Dense tall thin trees are accompanied by a very close arrangement of plants and sweet colored flowers, dominated by purple.  At the end of a walk of 500-600 meters, “The Jewel in the Crown” loomed before us.  It was a beautiful pond surfacing from the river.  The forest was so dense and secretive, that I felt like I was walking in the forest of “A Midsummer Night's Dream”.

One of our last stops was to the wide, open spaces of Snafelsness, a majestic area on the northwest peninsula of the island.

First we were treated to a lecture on the flora and fauna...how one cell “moss” began on the volcanic rock, and then two-cell foliage succeeded. Dainty tiny pink flowers dot the mounds of moss and peat. 

We walked along the valley after the decent from the cliffs, and the next stop off the cliff would have been straight into the Atlantic Ocean with all its power, force, and majesty. This was once the main fishing center on the peninsula.

The walk along with the birds nestling in the crevices of the stone “walls” bordering and jetting out into the Ocean, snuggling up with their newborn, was a beautiful site. This was the renewal season in August, Iceland’s summer which is like our winter. And this is the cycle of nature.

Just recalling so many unique experiences and this site is a wonderful place to end, not to mention the privilege of experiencing The Creation, while “walking on the moon”.

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