How not to anger your host - The Reykjavik Grapevine

How not to anger your host

How not to anger your host

Published January 14, 2005

However, one thing bothers you. Does your friend/acquaintance really want you for company, conversation and/or sex – or for your capacity as a mule?
Not a mule for drugs, of course, but a mule for … well, any comforts from your shared homeland that cannot be bought in Iceland. Your desperate friend wants you to bring Marmite, French wine from obscure appellations, Olbas Pastilles, sloppy-textured homestyle chutneys, cheese that takes the skin off the roof of your mouth (pasteurised, of course – bringing unpasteurised cheese into Iceland is like saying,”Here, rip my luggage apart!” to the customs officials at the airport), PG Tips tea, malt vinegar. The extensive list of demands has you worrying about your baggage limit.

However, all this is not enough. The only way to guarantee an enjoyable visit is to come to Iceland accompanied by your full duty-free allowance. Remember – you are visiting a country where a litre of Bombay Sapphire gin costs nearly as much your flight ticket. So do not be surprised if your host leaves you at the airport when you say: “There wasn’t much choice in duty-free so I bought some chocolates instead.”

You think your friend is above all of this? They are not. Be suspicious if they say: “Oh, don’t bother bringing anything, it’ll just be lovely just to see you.” They do not mean it. What they meant was: “The social conventions of our homeland make me feel embarrassed about asking you to spend money on me, but if you don’t come with your case stuffed with products unique to our country of origin, I will be most displeased.”

A displeased host will help you experience the Icelandic ritual of “buying a round of drinks” and let you discover that you could feed a family for a week for the price of a couple of beers, a glass of wine and a “Gin og Tonic.”

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