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Dear team at grapevine,
First of all having a source of information about ones travel destination is a relief and an eye opener for all the hidden treasures of the host culture and even a country’s mindset.
The latter part though leaves me stunned…coming from Germany I enjoyed eight days of pure nature travelling along the ring road. Untouched wild northern sceneries made me fall in love with Iceland. Then I started reading about the tourist defecation issue and how pressing this problem appears to be. Well, I can assure you not only that even on the famous ring road tourist appearance in the last week has proven way below anything considered “massive tourism” in other countries but also I have never seen anybody doing the free nature release thing. Nobody. Not even remains of such disrespectful behaviour were sighted.
However, it was surprising how few public toilets for “all these tourists” are found along the road, gas stations being the only sure point for human relief.
My advice thus would be: instead of making fun of it or rubbing this issue all over the tourists face and starting to develop apps not solving the issue but acting as watchdog one might consider a constructive straight forward way of developing easy to use and clean mobile public toilet that also from a design point of view fits into the wonderful Icelandic scenery.
Thanks for writing, and for your kind words.
You are right, Iceland isn’t really THAT crowded with tourists, at least compared to what you’ll find in places like, uh, Times Square or Piccadilly Circus.
But, have you ever been to Times Square or Piccadilly Circus? Those places are vile, disgusting, foul, putrid, de-humanizing, smelly and vicious (in that exact order). They attract the dredges of humanity; the worst-of-the-worst suburban dreck from all over the globe, mindless homunculi that feel implored to “travel” because they’ve seen people do it on TV (which they obey and emulate after spending their entire lives being conditioned in capitalist internment camps, the Consumer’s Categorical Imperative relentlessly hammered into their soft skulls since they slithered out of their mother’s toxic wombs), but cannot—even for a fraction of a second—fathom leaving the safety of their focus-grouped, target-marketed, SEO-optimized, user-friendly, branded, copyrighted and trademarked corporate run comfort zones and contend with Actual Human Culture; to the point of their travels consisting of nowt but experiencing their favourite chain feeding pens in slightly different climates than they are accustomed to (and even that is rendered meaningless by the now-omnipresent Central Air Conditioners), surrounded by their favourite corporate mascots, as their favourite formulaic shiny, soul-less garbage robot hits blare from tastefully out-of-sight speakers.
Which is to say: ew.
Anyway, the Gullfoss parking lot is certainly nothing like those places, and this is a good thing for which we are grateful. You’re right, the present situation is No Big Deal. However, you can’t blame the locals for getting a little spooked as they face the exponential growth of Iceland’s tourism industry on a daily basis, with all the minor growing pains that entails (things have changed quite a bit over the past decade, and change always entails a period of adjustment, and it’s always a little painful, right?). At least, it’s better that they’re voicing their concerns in public and engaging in healthy discussion, even though some of what’s said might at times feel misguided. Hopefully, such a discussion will lead to some clear policymaking and necessary legal and regulatory reform.
While we appreciate your suggestions and hear what you’re saying, we’ll probably keep reporting on stories about defecating tourists and shit like that. Because, c’mon, they’re news stories about poop! How amazing is that! Such ample opportunity to have fun and joke around (did you catch our “POOP NEWS” supplement? What a classic!).
ANYWAY, thanks for writing! And if you happen to come up with any cool ideas for an “easy to use and clean mobile public toilet that also from a design point of view fits into the wonderful Icelandic scenery,” do pass them along!
Your Friends At The Reykjavík Grapevine
PS – get in touch to receive your fancy prize for writing such a nice letter!
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