Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hot Water, Cold Water--A Day for Poems in Iceland

June 18, 2013 Iceland. Day 10 of our OAT Tour. We visit two business run by geothermal power--a flower farm and a geothermal power plant. And we immerse ourselves in the very cold Hvita River.

Hávamál--a Poem

Hávamál is presented as a single poem in the Poetic Edda, a collection of Old Norse poems from the Viking age. Hávamál is itself a combination of poems, presenting advice for living, proper conduct and wisdom.

"A true friend who you trust well and wish for his good will:  
go to him often exchange gifts and keep company "
from Hávamál Eddaic Poems Ad 700-900

Geothernal Hot Water

Geothermal water from the Earth can be used directly for growing plants in greenhouses. At the Espiflöt flower farm, three generations of one family have used Iceland's blessing of hot water.

Tryggvi, our OAT guide (red jacket), keeps company with our host's father.

The Espiflöt flower farm grows grade top flowers for Icelandic florists and lesser grades for supermarkets and gas stations. Our host pointed out that the florists' flowers do not necessarily last any longer than the supermarkets' flowers!

Geothermal hot water is pumped through the pipes that line the walls to warm the greenhouse.

This greenhouse is switching to lava cinders for all their pots. Many steps are automated, but talking to the plants and inspecting them frequently is very important, too!

Our host's wife went to NYC--he got the t-shirt!

Stunning, beautiful Gerber daisies

The Hvitá River

"He is truly wise who's travelled far and knows the way of the world. 
He who has travelled can tell what spirit governs the men he meets"
from Hávamál Eddaic Poems Ad 700-900 

An Ode to Freezing

Our spirits were ready to raft the Hvítá River (pronounced Kveetau).
Our spirits were ready when we waddled out of the changing rooms.
We were spirited in wet suits, waterproof jackets, helmets and PFD's.
We boarded 1950's vintage yellow school buses with spirit.

Our spirit wavered as we carried the raft into the river. It was COLD.

We got instruction. 
We got practice. 
We got in the raft
We apparently had not listened
Confusion and chaos ensued. 

Our boatman said, "Get down!"
Half of us had left our hearing aides in the bus.
We didn't hear.
We couldn't move.
Until our neighbor pulled us into the pile
of arms, legs and paddles
in the middle of the raft.

Someone was laughing,
It wasn't the boatman
He had probably never seen such a sight
in all his years.
Maybe he was laughing, it was funny.

But funny only warms the soul, 
and our hand and feet were cold. 
We paddled delicately, 
it was a race between hypothermia
and upper body exhaustion. 
so we paddled delicately, faster

All's well that ends well.
Says the wise man
Did he mention a sauna at the end of the river?

It revived our spirits
and now we are adventurers

Photos from

This is not our river raft trip. You can tell because it's sunny! We did get drenched, like this boat and paddlers!

We didn't jump off the cliff  although we were given the chance

We didn't go swimming in the river, (except for one silly person-IM)

Our trip 

Tryggvi and Darlene are on this raft

The rest of the OAT gang

Geothermal Hot Water 

"Hellisheiði Geothermal Plant is situated at the Hengill area, an active volcanic ridge in SW Iceland.  The plant´s purpose is to meet increasing demand for electricity and hot water for space heating in the industrial and domestic sectors.   Production capacity is 303 MW electricity and 133 MW thermal energy."

The plant is located where the North American and Asian continental plates are drifting apart, allowing the hot magna of the earth's core to rise.

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