Sunday, August 11, 2013

Snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure

Today was an interesting day from the get-go. We didn't start our day until about 1:30pm so I went out to a coffeehouse while Gilles slept in. From there I was able to people-watch, while enjoying an amazing latte and croissant. (Apparently a cappucino croissant means a croissant with a slight bit of coffee ground dust on top, and melted chocolate in the middle... yum!)

I went back to the house at 11:30 to pick up Gilles, and we went out for a pizza lunch and then did a bit of souvenir shopping before heading to the depot to wait for our snorkeling pickup.

It was a refreshing ride after yesterday's - our driver was personable and happy... even when we came to a huge car accident that blocked the entire highway. We sat on the side of the road for about 15 minutes while he talked on the phone (presumably with the depot) to find a side road for us to take to get around the accident. Eventually they were able to tell him that there was a gravel road about half a mile back that we could take - only catch was that we would have to drive through a river to do so. (Bad pic, but you get the gist).

Sidenote: Deaths via car accidents are very rare in Iceland. There were a total of 7 in all of Iceland last year. This year they are up to 9. They have a car and truck that got into an accident up on poles beside the major highway, alongside a wooden board that holds a tally of the number of deaths in the current year.

Once we reached the dive site, we were instructed on how to put on the base layer (called a teddy suit, basically a one-piece snowsuit), then the dry suit, then the hood and finally the gloves. The hood and gloves were made of wet suit material. Once we had all of this on we had to open the neck of the dry suit (which was uncomfortably tight) and crouch down to push as much air out of the suit as possible. Essentially, we vacuum packed ourselves.

Unfortunately the gloves were very clumsy so this is the only photo we took of snorkeling - but take our word for it, it was absolutely beautiful. Because it is glacier water, the water was very cold (2 degrees Celsius), but it was also very very clear. At the deepest point, we could see clear to the bottom 100 metres down.

There wasn't any fish to see or anything like that, but there was lots of plant life, and it was interesting to see how the earth was essentially splitting apart there.

Once we finished snorkelling, we were able to do a bit of cliff jumping again. This time the cliff was only about 3 metres high, so it was easy after the rafting cliff yesterday. That said, it did look higher as you could see right down below the water for a long distance.

On the way back from snorkeling we stopped at a service station with another 3D map, where our guide described how the plate tectonics are working in the area - essentially we were in no-man's land, the space between the North American and Eurasian plates. He also talked about some of the folk tales in the area, as well as explained how the different mountains and volcanoes in the area were formed, and how the water was filtered underground through the volcanic rock many kilometres before actually joining a lake about a kilometre from where we were snorkeling. I found it very interesting especially since we were told a similar story by another one of our guides (on the snowmobiling day) but each story focused on a different area based on their areas of expertise. The place where he is holding the key is where we were snorkeling today.

On the way back I talked to him some about the Icelandic Sagas (I took a class on them in University), and he recommended his favorite, which I had not read. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of it now, but I do know that it is one in which Thor and Odin are in an epic battle, so I will keep looking until I find it.

Our journey is nearing its end. Tomorrow we are going on a helicopter tour, then likely doing a bit of shopping and then going whalewatching again (we have a free voucher). Then we will be likely going on a jet boat the following day, and taking in the 'Viking Nightlife'. We will likely then cap off the trip by visiting some museums on our final day before flying out.

Then it is back to real life again for a few days at least, before flying out to Boston for the Inbound Marketing Conference! (For work).