Surviving Iceland

Updated 2009-08-17 14:06

I have spoken to many people about living in Iceland. What is crazy is the fact the people don’t talk about ´living’ in Iceland but ´surviving´. This country does get it extremes in weather and landscape. Hurricane scale winds are the ´norm´, heavy snow, sand storms, sunshine, rain, earthquakes, avalanches and volcanic eruptions, sometimes everything within the space of 20 minutes.

During the winter, if you don't have a 4x4, it can be quite hard to get around. The daylight is limited and often people suffer from S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder), a depression that comes to do lack of natural light. People tend to hibernate in time for the long summer days of partying and bbqs.

Summertime can be difficult due to its long daylight hours. It affects visitors and newcomers the most, but still some native people can be affected.

The landscape of Iceland is breathtaking all of the time. It can appear to look very empty as the lack of trees does stand out. NASA in the 1960s sent its astronauts to Iceland's isolated highland deserts in preparation for moon landings. Trees are growing in Iceland but they are said to take 50 years to grow. Trees find it very hard to ´survive´ in Iceland´s climate. The topsoil is extremely delicate and is often blown away by the hurricane style winds. The fact that Iceland is so close to the Arctic Circle and it´s lack of sunny days means it is very hard for anything to grow very quickly. Birch forests once covered Iceland when the country was first settled around 872 A.D. but the early Icelanders weren´t aware that their actions would have a huge impact on the future ecological effects on the island. Today there are organizations trying to help make trees grow. Such as the SCS (Soil Conservation Service), Iceland Carbon Fund and there is even a Facebook group 'Trees for Iceland'.

Its harsh terrain and tough weather conditions lead to the famous Bear Grills visiting to show you how to survive if you become stranded in Iceland. One thing that attracts people to Iceland is the natural hot springs and geysers. Bear Grills says: if caught in the wild you should always try and cook your food when possible as raw meat uses too much of your bodies energy. When he was stranded he found a sheep, cut out its eye and a piece of meat and used his shoelace to place into the boiling geothermal pool to cook. Apparently sheep's eyeballs are very high in protein'¦

I digress'¦

Once you get past the crazy Icelandic weather it is a great place to be, with lots of natural beauty and stunning atmosphere. Definitely worth ´surviving´.

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