“You’re not in Florida anymore. Ha ha ha.” Said the guy at customs. This was long over-due information seeing that the last time I was in Florida was eighth grade. But Chicago had been 95 degrees- practically Floridian – and so I stepped off the plane in Keflavik wearing running shorts. The outfit, a bit inappropriate in Boston, was insane in the Icelandic wind and rain. It was 5 degrees out, not that numbers meant anything anymore. Prices were in ISK, degrees were in Celsius, distances in kilometers, even time was on a 24-hour clock. I wasn’t sure what day it was.
We were supposed to get into Iceland on the morning of Thursday, the 29th. Instead we got there that evening? Friday evening? A delayed flight out of O’Hare meant a missed connection in Boston, which meant a night in Boston, which meant another missed flight out of Keflavik, and an unintended night in Iceland.
When we stepped off the airplane in Iceland, though, none of that mattered. Not the lost time, not the confusion over numbers, not the howling wind and rain. Two words in neon lights pushed all this from my mind: Duty Free. A grocery store spread out before me, a grocery store that sold only candy, electronics, and booze in massive quantities. Swedish chocolates, liqueurs marinating birch twigs, pallets of beer, plug adaptors. And all in prices I couldn’t understand. This was going to be great.
We got a six-pack of tall boy cans of Gull beer, a giant Lindt chocolate bar (giant), some peanut m&m’s, a little thing of vodka and one of whiskey.
The last duffle in the baggage claim went around three times before we left it empty handed. I could have used some pants. I was on the second day of wearing my t-shirt and short shorts, and the dress of the people in the airport resembled an REI commercial. Rain jackets, pants, boots, fishing tackle, climbing gear, bike seats, Nate Swenson! (Not all those last things. I mean to say that they were dressed warmly and high-tech.)
I wanted to find out if they sold pants in the airport, but while everybody, it seemed, spoke excellent English, I wasn’t sure if they spoke British or American. I was concerned that they’d think I was in need of some new underwear (underwear, how embarrassing!), and I didn’t think I could pull off asking for trousers.
The airport hotel was within walking distance. Midnight, it was lit up in the wind and rain.
I realized that sitting on the hotel bed, drinking copious amounts of warm beer, and eating large amounts of chocolate wasn’t the great activity I thought it would be. They don’t even have Netflix. Why do I go anywhere?
Today (days later), Kyle saw us off on the ferry from Oslo to Copenhagen. We talked about when we were going to see each other next. Maybe we could go on a trip together? “How about Iceland?” he suggested.
No. Not Iceland. Not unless pants and Netflix.