Day 4: The Vikings Who Snorkel

Sometimes the sights you see just have no words. I had that feeling coming into this journal entry when I was trying to brainstorm ideas. Along with no words, I have no pictures-at least for the second half of the day. I wish I did though, because you know what they say. A picture is worth a million words and I seem to be at a lack for them right now.

Day 4 of the GREEN Program was the day I was really looking forward to when I first heard about the program, because we were going to be doing the ultimate bucket list activity, snorkeling between two continents. We first headed for Thingvellir and then split off into two groups. One group was going snorkeling in Silfra first. The second group, which I was a part of, was going to hike around and sightsee. Although I was really excited to go snorkeling, sightseeing first actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It was a really cold day with blistery winds, and I was glad I didn’t have to walk around for long with wet hair.

Thingvellir is a very interesting place. It has these huge, impressive wall of rocks to the side where supposedly the Vikings used to travel from all over the country and hold their government meetings. In reality, Thingvellir was more like their party place and their meetings a time to socialize and meet girls. Today, the place is still very special to Icelanders because of the history behind it. There’s signs everywhere telling people to stay on the path and not climb on the rocks, because who wants a stupid tourist destroying such a nice relic of history? Also, a scene from Game of Thrones was shot here. How cool is that?

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I would’ve throw my money in here too if I had any. What a magical place.

After a hike up the hills, we came to a waterfall which was another pretty nice sight. Icelanders are so lucky. They have so many sights to see and places to visit. Iceland is one small country but you have the glaciers, the volcanoes, waterfalls, and hot springs. It really is the land of fire and ice.

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Our hike was very short and soon we were getting suited up for snorkeling. There weren’t enough dry suits, so we had to wait for the other snorkeling group to get back. It was a long, cold wait and a group of us huddled in a truck like penguins to stay warm. When the dry suits finally did arrive, we had quite the experience trying to get the heavy suits on. Putting them on yourself was near impossible, and the poor workers there basically had to dress 46 grown college kids. I’m actually glad I have no pictures of me at this moment. I imagined I must have looked really funny.

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Okay, I lied. There is a picture, which I snatched from the snorkeling company’s website.

Now this is where words fail me. When I jumped into the water and first put my head under to see, I felt this great calm wash over me. It was an amazing sight to say the least with a large rift going straight down the middle. You could clearly see the divide and the continents on both sides of the river. The colors were amazing too. It’s not like snorkeling in the Pacific where there are colorful schools of fish and coral, but the water is amazingly clear, green, and dark blue the further down you go and there’s stringy bits of moss here and there. There were people around me splashing in the water, clumsily trying to get situated in the freezing water, but I only vaguely registered them in my mind. I was too amazed by the sight below me. I’ll attach some pictures I found from the internet, just so you have an idea…

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The snorkeling ended with a bit of struggle. I got pretty winded from all the swimming, my goggles kept filling with water, my hands and feet were very numb and cold, and the strong winds from above were making matters worse. I thought I was the only one struggling until I got out of the water and talked to those around me. Turns out, we all agreed the second half of the snorkel was a killer. The snorkel instructor had one more surprise for us though before we all passed out from exhaustion. As the last passage rite, we were supposed to jump down a cliff from about 30-40 feet up. Completely optional but who was going to back out now? I was super nervous but totally game, so I decided to be one of the first to jump. I let out a pretty girlish scream, which embarrassed me, but hitting the water was a very fulfilling experience in a completely different way than snorkeling was.

Side note:  the water tasted amazing and so fresh. Best water I’ve ever tasted. The water originates from the glaciers, and I think I drank about three mouthfuls. Later, I learned that a kid from the first snorkeling group accidentally barfed in the water. Oops…

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