From Iceland — What Are Icelanders Talking About?: Weather, Wages, All We Need Is A Little Patience!

What Are Icelanders Talking About?: Weather, Wages, All We Need Is A Little Patience!

Published July 26, 2018

Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Art Bicnick

As we all know, Iceland is currently in the midst of the worst summer ever recorded. But in the last week, spirits were raised as uncharacteristically good weather hit the city with a bang, boosting morale and bringing some much needed Vitamin D to the pale residents of Reykjavík. Temperatures reached highs of 14°C, with clear skies overhead and all were out and about enjoying what might very well be the last semi-ok day until next year.

And while we were being sent good weather, the midwives’ tale finally ended. After more than 30 midwives resigned last month in response to the government’s refusal to raise their wages, women and men from all around Iceland came together this week in a social media campaign called #égstyðljósmæður, which translates to #ISupportMidwives. On Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, Icelanders shared how midwives had helped them through pregnancy, birth, and aftercare. These powerful posts described how midwives had saved their babies in difficult births, taught them how to breastfeed, and recognised signs of postpartum depression. On the 24th, the Midwives’ Union finally made an agreement with the hospitals. While not all were happy about the compromise, it did include a raise in wages as well as a cancellation of the ban on overtime work. We stand behind you, midwives. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum!

Farewell, sweet mail

The face of downtown Reykjavík will soon change irrevocably, as the beloved post office on Pósthússtræti (‘post office road’) is closing its doors. The post office has been in use for 150 years and is the oldest in the country. In a public statement, Íslandspóstur said that due to the boom in tourism, the facility is now too small to service both local residents and travellers. They also added that with all the construction being done downtown, it’s become difficult for shipments to come and go in a timely manner. A new building is currently in construction just outside the city centre.

So, to the despair of many Reykjavík residents, Pósthússtræti will now join the ranks of other streets—like Bankastræti (‘bank street’), Spítalastígur (‘hospital street’), and Lækjargata (‘creek road’)— named after structures that have long since left.

Welcome, jungle

But as one building left, an entire city of paradise sprung up in Laugardalur Arena as Guns N’ Roses arrived for their debut Icelandic show on July 24th. The concert—the last stop on the band’s summer reunion tour—was the largest ever production seen in Iceland. More than 15,000 people were estimated to attend, which, for Guns N’ Roses, might seem like an intimate affair, but for Reykjavík it’s positively bonkers. It was, if you’re into that kind of music music, said to be a show-stopping performance.

Fun fact: The last Guns N’ Roses tour made almost 500m USD. The GDP of Iceland is only 40 times that.

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