From Iceland — Sour Grapes

Sour Grapes

Published July 13, 2007

Sour Grapes

Dear Editor, As the genealogical consultant in summer residence here at the Icelandic Emigration Center at Hofs� s, I was very impresed with the article on genealogy that appeared recently in The Grapevine. It was especially well researched and balanced, and acknowledged the limitations of any database – which is something few people understand. My compliments to the writer.
Further to that, it occured to me that readers of The Grapevine might be interested in a new exhibit we have here at the Emigration Center, which turns the usual story of emigration on its head and challenges many of the long accepted cliches about the emigrants and their experiences in North America. In short, it� s an example of how photography, as an historical resource, can afford many insights that are not found in books or scholarly papers, let alone sensationalist documentaries.
Regards, Nelson Gerrard (genealogical consultant, Icelandic Emigration Center, Hofs� s)
Dear Nelson,
Thank you for your encouraging words. I agree that Ian Watson did an excellent job with a complex subject. But I don’t know what clichés you are talking about. Veni, vidi, vici; that’s it. We came to America and we conquered. You probably have the photos to prove it, right? And, I am not sure how this relates to anything else, but it probably does, or not. Today, I received a phone call from a man who lives in Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, and he told me a remarkable story about a stone that supposedly has Leif Eiriksson’s inscription on it. True story. OK, so this probably bears no relation to the Icelandic Emigration Center, but I thought it was important.
Dear Editor,
I have just spent 4 days in Iceland and, quite frankly, your country blew me away. Iceland is, quite simply, as different as you could get to our own country of South Africa. Needless to say, we have become full-on brand ambassadors for Iceland since we returned home.
Now, this is a long shot, but we lost our Sony Cybershot digital camera somewhere between Eden in Hveragerdi and the Gullfoss & Geysir Express bus (Iceland Excursions). Neither Eden nor the bus company have found anything so I thought I’d see if you could help. Perhaps you could mention it in your letters page and, who knows ??? Maybe some kind soul found the camera and handed it in somewhere.
We lost all our pics of our trip to Iceland so am pretty desperate to get it back.
Thanks for your time… and I really enjoyed your publication. It’s very unique in that you cater for the tourist without making us feel like tourists (if that makes any sense.)
John Walls
Cape Town, South Africa
Dear John,
I hope someone found your camera. If someone did, please drop me a line. In the meantime, you always have the option to subscribe to the Grapevine. We have a lot of photos each issue. I have never lost a camera, but I once lost a mobile phone with a camera device. It turns out it was in a parking lot and somebody drove their car over it. That was pretty hard to take. The phone was ruined. I know how you feel. Obviously, it is not comparable to your situation. I was not on vacation and most of the photos located on the phone were of me, and some of them might even have been jeopardizing, so perhaps it was just as well. But, you know, I’m just saying… If anybody found a camera somewhere around Eden, let us know. We will get it back to John.
Editor’s note: Last issue, we made two unfortunate mistakes. (We probably made a lot more mistakes, but these are the only two I am ready to cop to.) In our letters section, we accidentally cut out the name of the person who wrote the open letter to City Council member Gísli Marteinn Baldursson in regards to his answers in a previous article in the Grapevine on public transport. That was my mistake entirely. The letter was not anonymous like it appeared to be. The writer of the letter was Ben Frost, a resident of Reykjavík and frequent (or formerly frequent anyway) user of Reykjavík’s public transportation system. I would like to apologise to Ben for that.
The other mistake also regards an artist. I did a little write up on Hrafn Gunnlaugsson’s Viking movie The Raven Flies. I used the name the Revenge of the Barbarians for the film. Apparently, that name was only used to market the film in the US. Everywhere else, here included, it goes by the name The Raven Flies in English. So, if you have been walking around Reykjavík in search of a copy of the Revenge of the Barbarians, you probably did not find it. But maybe you should now try again, and this time you could even use the correct name. Again, I apologise to Gunnlaugsson for that unfortunate error.

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