Published February 7, 2018
Like every other year, for as long as we can remember, Iceland’s 2018 began with storms, strong winds and a constant, annoying blend of rain and snow. That’s January for you: it can’t help but bring bad weather, and it’s unapologetic about it. The last 27 days have been a steady succession of alert warnings, with gusts of wind reaching hurricane force, snow and hail downpours at unexpected moments, and temperatures dropping well below zero. The north and the Westfjords braced themselves for avalanches, while flights to and from Keflavík were often delayed. Yet, despite the danger, there is beauty in storms, too, and what can you do but let Iceland be Iceland?
What’s even more idiosyncratic than the weather, when it comes to Iceland, is drugs. When interviewed by a local TV station, an Icelandic smuggler said the Icelandic production of drugs, especially hash and cannabis, as well as the import of stronger products such as amphetamine and cocaine, has increased exponentially in the past year. His words resulted in police crackdowns all over Reyjavík. The police have also recorded an increase in the demand for hard drugs among young users, sparking the latest debate on abuse and decriminalisation.
Legal or not, we also learned that addictive things don’t come cheap—whatever they are. The 76% import toll on French fries shocked the country, and is apparently here to stay. Two Icelandic companies, Innes and Hagar, filed a lawsuit against the government over the toll, arguing it went against basic concepts of equality and proportion. When the matter finally went to court at the beginning of the year, the Supreme Court confirmed that the toll on taters was perfectly within the bounds of the constitution.
Innes and Hagar weren’t the only ones trying to avoid taxes this month. For once, we aren’t talking about politicians or bankers, but simply of a man who, lacking the money to purchase extra luggage for his flight from Iceland, decided to simply wear all of his clothes at once. We’ve all been there—what do you do when you buy too many sweaters in London and your suitcase doesn’t close, even if you sit on it? You wear sweater after sweater until you look like the Michelin man. But for Ryan Hawaii, things didn’t go so well. The staff didn’t allow him to board his flight, and the video of him being manhandled by airport security went viral.
Of all the things authorities have to deal with, however, the creepiest so far has been drones. More specifically, the police are often called to deal with unidentified machines hovering outside people’s windows. After a man living in the east of Reykjavík saw a drone flying outside his living room window while he was playing with his daughter, he took matters into his own hands and grounded the drone by throwing snow at it. To this day it’s unclear why the machine was flying so close to the house, as the Transport Authority has long banned the use of drones within 1.5 km of residential areas.