Published July 29, 2011
In case you were wondering… You’re seeing an unfamiliar face on this page because our seasoned editor Haukur S. Magnússon is out driving around the country in one of those fancy Happy Campers campervans this week. And you can read all about the fun places he’s been visiting in our special twelve-page travel pullout inside!
I always tell people that if they have one week in Iceland that they should most definitely rent a car and explore the island on their own, and try to spend the nights at small farmhouses in the middle of nowhere. Now, I suppose it would also be pretty cool to drive around in a campervan with a solar-powered refrigerator, sink, stove, and bed. It’s probably only missing a shower. But that shouldn’t be a problem, as Iceland has over 130 swimming pools, and another thing I always tell people to do in Iceland is to go swimming.
Then again, you could also opt to forego showering for a week. In the olden days (not that long ago) Icelanders only showered once or twice a year… which reminds me of an Icelander my family once hosted in California, where I grew up. That guy brought with him two pairs of socks to last him three months and they were strategically black socks to mask their filth. He didn’t shower very regularly either. We also once hosted an Icelander who went out biking, bought a big boom box, and then biked back home with it, but lost his way and wound up riding on a freeway. Needless to say he was picked up by the police and given a ride home. I’m not kidding. But it’s actually not so strange considering that Iceland’s main throughway Route 1, which circles the island, is a simple a two-lane road.
But I’ve gone off on a tangent, as The Grapevine sometimes allows itself to do. One of the things you’ll notice about The Grapevine is that it isn’t your typical travel magazine. While liberties are taken to have fun with it, it’s also a space where people write critically about important issues that should interest tourists and locals alike…and that’s what I really wanted to reflect upon here.
Given the recent tragedy in Norway, I’ve been thinking about how important it is to be critical and conscientious of the evils in our world. Though it’s easy to live one’s life removed from and indifferent to the injustices in the word—like genocide, racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty, and corruption—this makes us complicit in the evil.
To quote Camus: “The plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good… it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen-chests…and that perhaps the day would come when…it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.”
Although Camus warns that crisis can strike any ordinary town, like it did in Oran, he predicts that, like the people of Oran, many apathetic people will be nonetheless surprised to find that they are not immune to crisis.
Now on that note you should read our interview with Hörður Torfason, Iceland’s first openly gay man who helped lead the Pots and Pans Revolution—a model citizen who refuses to accept injustice.