Archive for April, 2011
Maybe it’s the spring weather in the air, with all its symbolism of birth and regrowth, but this week I’ve been particularly drawn to posts about inspirational and transformative travel. Posts about how travel can change you, make you see things in a new light, heal old wounds, or just make you realize who you were in the first place. I confess that a part of me is wary of the idea that travel can actually “change you”. Don’t get me wrong – I think travel is one of the best things you can do to open your mind and heart, but I don’t think travel can suddenly transform you into a different person. Rather, I think travel can help to pull out the parts of you that are buried - whether it’s your inner adventurer, inner coward, or inner child. Travelling can help you see things with new eyes and teach you things about the world – things about yourself – that you never knew or dreamed of. Travel is enlightening, yes, but it’s an enlightenment that’s already buried within you. Travel doesn’t change who you are deep down – it just helps to unravel all those deep-down parts of you that you never knew existed.
Part 1 of this post covered the one-year anniversary of the eruption of, and my visit to, Eyjafjallajökull.
Gateway to hell
West of Eyjafjallajökull, the “gateway to hell” sits beneath a misty shroud. It is Hekla – Iceland’s most famous volcano (at least it was, until Eyjafjallajökull sprang to life) – and it has had a violent existence. Records of Hekla’s eruptions date back to 1104, with eruptions lasting weeks, months, or even years. In the 16th century, it was declared the gateway to hell when people claimed they could hear the cries of the damned coming from deep within it.
Oh, readers, I’m so sorry. I’ve been away for awhile (sadly, not away as in travelling, but away as in being too busy/lazy – okay, mostly lazy) and have been neglecting to write my weekly roundups. So, without any long-winded justification (honestly, I’m just really lazy), I’ll jump into some of the great travel reads for this week.
April 14th marks the one-year anniversary of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland. You know the one. The little ash cloud that disrupted flights across half the northern hemisphere. The one that was dubbed the worst travel disruption since 9/11.
I had booked my trip to Iceland right before Eyjafjallajökull blew. My original itinerary had included a camping and hiking excursion along the Fimmvörðuháls trail in Þórsmörk, where a volcanic fissure had opened up in mid-March 2010. Tour companies were taking visitors to see the exploding lava up close and when I had heard of the “tourist-friendly” eruption, my inner travel writer jumped on the story.
But before I could depart, Eyjafjallajökull exploded, news hit of closed airports across Europe, and I held my breath as I waited to hear the fate of my own flight. Remarkably, it went ahead; in a strange twist, Iceland’s international airport remained open during most of the disruption as the ash blew east, away from the airport on the west coast. And so, it was with a bit of surprise (and disbelief from friends back home) that I touched down at the black fields of Keflavik airport while a volcano smoked in the distance.
Years ago, I read an interview with a runner that has stuck with me as I’ve pursued my own running goals. (I’m ashamed to say that I don’t remember the runner’s name or what magazine the interview was in, so if the following quote sounds familiar to anyone, please let me know).
She commented that runners are a lot like travellers. Both types of people want to keep their feet moving, never staying in one place. Rather than running away from something (a common negative belief about nomads), they are running to something new – a new place, new experience, new scenery.