In the past 12months Iceland has experienced 3 volcanic eruptions (Fimmvörðuháls, Eyjafjallajökull and Grímsvötn). This frequency surpasses the average value of approximately one eruption every 5th year. Needless to say this development is to no one‘s liking.
The latest eruption is that of the volcano in Grímsvötn and is believed to have been 10 times as powerful as the one in Eyjafjallajökull last spring. Thankfully it did not last long and air traffic was not as negatively influenced as when Eyjafjallajökull erupted, although flights were delayed in the northernmost countries of Europe and in Siberia (if I am not mistaken). Of all the stranded passengers I would assume the most pissed off were those trying to leave Siberia.
Personally I was stranded in London and got to spend 2 days in a hotel at Heathrow watching Sky news. However, although these days were not exactly thrilling I cannot complain when faced with reports of those living on the south coast of Iceland where the ash cloud basically engulfed existence for extended periods. Interviews with farmers from the area were heart wrenching, the description of their complete helplessness when forced to sit inside and listen to their animals screaming from the yard - with no possibility of going out to help them. Visibility was so bad that if you stuck your hand out you could not see your fingers and beams from flashlights were simply swallowed up. Some of the animals in the most affected areas died, others were blinded and many ewes bore their lambs into a day utterly lacking mercy. You may think that my use of the word screaming when describing the sounds from the farm animals can be chalked up to my foreigner’s English but this is not the case. Apparently the noises the animals made while hopelessly trying to evade the thick suffocating atmosphere were screams, not brays, mews, bellows or bleats but screams. Horrible.
Iceland is also going through a cold period with snowstorms still occurring although spring has been scheduled for some time now. One farmer said that it was as if they had been cast into hell. Except it was cold.
And the good news? Ah, sadly there is no good news. According to scientists Iceland may be entering a volcanically active period that might last for 60 years. During this time I guess “less is more” will not apply to Europeans packing for trips or holidays involving airplanes. It is not as if I personally go by this phrase when travelling, be there an eruption or not. On my recent trip to London/Bristol I unluckily had 12 chairs as part of my luggage, furniture that I bought in the UK to take home, not knowing that my flight would end up stranded. I do not recommend standing in a line trying to get on a plane during periods of flight havoc with 12 chairs.
So I leave you now to go sit in a chair. I have 12 to choose from as I managed to get them on the plane, no small feat all things considered. And oh yes, there is actually some good news. Grímsvötn is not hard to pronounce (although a bit more so than Anna) and does not end with jökull (glacier) – a word that when pronounced by non-native Icelanders sounds like yogurt. Who ever heard of a volcano called something/something yogurt?
Yrsa - Wednesday