Icelanders seem to operate on a need to know basis. There is never extra information given, you are just expected to figure it out. Service in restaurants is different here, too. You are not expected to clear plates until the guests have left the restaurant. Otherwise, it will seem as if you’re rushing them. You also don’t get checks here unless requested. You are served your food and left alone, then when you are done you go to the counter, tell them what you ate, then pay. This confused me the first couple of times. I thought, “GEEZ, where is that waitress?” Stupid American.
On that note, I have gotten all sorts of American jokes directed at me from all walks of life. My accent is frequently teased, and my boss has even regaled me with stories of entitled Americans coming to work for her. Lazy Americans. She tells me she wants to put a picture of me up on the wall because I’m so good at working. Part of me wants to give her a headshot before I go. She was hesitant to bring in another one after that last debacle. But now there are two of us.
There are 8 total Workaway people, and 23 employees total. Esther, from Holland, Cristal from France, Siobahn from Ireland, Olivia from New Zealand, and of course the Brits. The other employees live here, but some are from other countries.
An interesting aspect to Icelandic culture is asking someone where they are from, because they will tell you the exact village they grew up in. I’ve asked and read about this phenomenon, and its to trace lineage and make connections. “Do you know Bjorn?” “Yes, I slept with him.”
This happens everywhere, though. I ask which side of town people grew up on all the time.. Always asking what high school people went to, as if it wasn’t 20 years ago, and as if it gives me some sort of insight into who people are now.
It’s different here, though, in a country so small. Half the population of Milwaukee.
They celebrated the National Day this past Wednesday.. Part of the celebration was a march by the recent school graduates marching through town at 11pm. The whole town came out to congratulate them. There were bands all day, and
I keep thinking back to when I arrived in Keflavik, and the smell of this country assaulted my nostrils like thick dryer sheets and sulphur. It made me a bit nauseated, the difference in air here. I can’t wait to smell more countries, though.
It reminds of that scene in Good Will Hunting.. “Do you know what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel?” Nope. Want to.
And here I am, sitting next to a fjord, watching ducklings propel themselves out of, then under the water. The wind cool enough to take the heat of the sun from my back, the scent making me take deep breaths to remember it fully. I wonder about the future, and smelling things that remind me of this place. Unlike anything I have ever smelled, and curious if it can be found anywhere else.