Poor Man’s Land

Aka: Lanmannalaugar. The Icelandic language looks impossible, but it is actually quite simple, they are just lazy to put spaces, so the language stuck that way. Some words I found common to Norwegian, for example “Takk” is thank you in both languages.
Poor Man’s Land was our final destination for the short weekend trip. The Icelandic native Ka (Name altered for anonymity), two other girls he had picked from Couchsurfing, and I arrived here Saturday evening. Along the way, we had taken a detour to a waterfall and a natural steam vent that smelled like eggs.

Every turn we took, I was seriously thinking, this is like an entirely different planet!
If I were to rename this place in the Highlands of South Iceland, I would name it “the meeting of colors”. Taking a 360 turn, looking out at the barren land and hills from the base of the cabin and camping area, it was like god had taken a modern art painting course and just splattered rock, ash, mud, sand of all brilliant colors in all directions.

After settling in the cabin, I went for a midnight hike in the eternal twilight, meeting a corralled group of Icelandic horses along the way, then switchbacked my way up a green ridge the color of my army green pants.

Once I got back down, I woke Ka up and went over to the natural hot springs just a hundred meters from the cabin. There, we joined other bathers some of which were from Switzerland, France, and Russia. I got to speak some more French, and swim around in the steaming waters that mixed with cold. Interestingly, the top layer was usually hot, and bottom strikingly cold in comparison. In order to keep comfortable, I had to constantly keep moving the water around me as to mix the two.

Around 2am, I retired back to the cabin to find my thin sliver of spot between two random men who were snoring. I’m really glad I brought earplugs!
By the time I woke up the next morning, the sun was high in the sky. The two girls and Ka were still asleep, so I just sneaked downstairs and outside. I couldn’t resist exploring some more, so I headed up the lava field just behind the cabin.

Hopping around on the rocks and moss, I ran into some snowfields, one of which exposed a larger ice cave. Against my “better” judgment, I went inside knowing full well it could easily collapse if someone decided to walk over it. The inside was jaw dropping, water dropping from the top, the snow/ice filtered through this deep turquoise light from the outside world. Taking a couple of pictures, I emerged back out, then went down to meet the rest of my group for breakfast.

After taking a four hour hike around during which we went a different way than originally Ka had intended (I knew it the whole time, but wanted to take the harder way so I kept my mouth shut), we jumped back in the car, forged the river and drove all the way back to Reykjavik, but not without finding a herd of horses galloping across the road

then stopping at another waterfall near Voss. By this time, Ka was pretty tired so he asked me to drive back the remaining two hours. I felt honored that he trusted me with the car and their lives; in the end they all said I was a good driver and was actually surprised that I could drive stick as well as I did, given that I’m American and all. Well, backing into his narrow driveway was probably the hardest part, but I did manage to pull it off.

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