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The latest from our friendly neighbourhood volcano

So, Eyjafjallajökull has been behaving reasonably well for the last few days, meaning that it seems to have ejected most of its ash stockpiles for the time being and is now emitting lava like a good little volcano. The lava, I’m told, is running to the north and is melting ice which is causing a small increase in the volume of rivers, but nothing more.

Not to say there hasn’t been any ash around — both Reykjavík and Keflavík airports were closed yesterday due to volcanic ash haze and tourists were being ferried hither and thither, to Akureyri or Egilsstaðir and sometimes back again because by the time they got there the airport was closed. Flights were back to normal today, but tomorrow apparently they’ve brought a couple of flights forward since there is uncertainty about ash levels in the late afternoon. Still, flights ARE getting in and out of the country, which is a huge relief.

It’s been heartwarming to see how many volunteers have turned up to help the farmers in the Eyjafjallajökull area clear the ash from their buildings and property. RÚV had a segment on the news yesterday that showed people in the rain clearing the ash that is like thick, gray mud and which one volunteer remarked was “pretty much how you’d imagine troll shit to be.” The volunteers came from the Red Cross, a 4×4 vehicle club, and a group that was set up on Facebook called [in English] Help the farmers under the Eyjafjöll mountains. A very cool initiative that already has around 11,000 members.

Meanwhile, potential tourists to Iceland have been busy cancelling their summer vacations, or not booking them at  all. Which I guess is probably understandable – after all, Eyjafjallajökull sure did yell BOO! in a big way. People are probably thinking they might get here and never be able to leave again. Or worse, get here and have to say Aye-ya fyah-dla jow-kudl in every other sentence.

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  • julia p April 26, 2010, 8:36 pm

    hey…loving your updates on the volcano. My son was supposed to visit your lovely country with a school trip from the UK which has now been cancelled. 60 devastated 15/16 yr olds. They were sooooo looking fwd to their trip and there’s no chance of rearranging it as they are straight into GCSEs now, such a disappointment. To kinda try and make it better we have promised him we will try and arrange a trip to Iceland in the summer hols (volcano permitting)…not the same as going with your mates but hey at least he’ll get there. Any tips how to best arrange an affordable trip for a family of 2 adults and 2 teenagers? Looks bloody expensive.

  • tk April 26, 2010, 8:54 pm

    “Meanwhile, potential tourists to Iceland have been busy cancelling their summer vacations, or not booking them at all.”

    I don’t know, I can think of worse things than being “stranded” in Niceland for an indeterminate stay.

  • sylvia hikins April 26, 2010, 9:03 pm

    I have been in the Wilderness of the Namibian Desert for two weeks away from everything, so it is good to be logging on to the Weather Report again- believe me, news of the volcano reached even the desert and bushland of Africa- in Windhoek last Sunday hotels were giving special rates to people stranded by the volcano and they had even drawn it with chalk on slate boards looking cute, a perfect conical volcano shape. I just hope Eyjafjallajokull keeps passive until after the World Cup -South Africa has put so much into hosting this event. Any news about how Katla is behaving?
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • Tom Harper April 26, 2010, 9:26 pm

    Have no worry, I will still be in Iceland for a good chunk of the summer. When this first started, I even looked at what it would take to get the ferry from Denmark to make it, dammit! =)

  • Sue April 26, 2010, 9:40 pm

    “Meanwhile, potential tourists to Iceland have been busy cancelling their summer vacations, or not booking them at all.”

    No fear. If the planes are flying then so am I, in 54 days and counting… fingers crossed! 🙂

  • Mike April 26, 2010, 11:05 pm

    People cancelling a holiday because they might get to see a volcano close up??? This I can’t understand.

    Oh to have the money to get up close and personal with the World’s greatest tongue twister.

    For anyone reading in the UK, Channel 4 will be having an hour long documentary about the eruption this Sunday at 22:00.

    Mike.

  • Mike April 26, 2010, 11:07 pm

    Oops I also forgot, Britain’s own religious party has said the volcano is a sign of God’s wrath:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8643556.stm

    IIRC a Russian priest has also blamed it on Iceland being a hotbed of paganism.

    Mike.

  • Joerg April 26, 2010, 11:18 pm

    It wasn’t just the little volcano. Your President has jumped on the bandwagon and apparently successfully frightened tourists off with his expert remarks about Katla. 

    Why is he always so obsessed about making things bigger than they are? He even apologized in certain German media for the eruption, as if it had been his work. 

  • alda April 27, 2010, 12:25 am

    Thanks, everyone!

    Sue – this IS affordable! Everything is 50% cheaper than it was two years ago 🙂 — If you want MORE affordable you could take a tent and camp (there are excellent campgrounds all around the island), or try doing a home exchange. — perhaps others can think of more tips.

    Sylvia – Katla appears to be dormant, no signs of anything else. Touch wood.

    Joerg – Very true. On the news this evening they were talking about how they had to launch a major marketing campaign to get tourists to come, and the first thing EPI said was: ‘Lock up Ólafur Ragnar’.

  • alda April 27, 2010, 12:26 am

    Thanks, everyone!

    Sue – this IS affordable! Everything is 50% cheaper than it was two years ago 🙂 — If you want MORE affordable you could take a tent and camp (there are excellent campgrounds all around the island), or try doing a home exchange. — perhaps others can think of more tips.

    Sylvia – Katla appears to be dormant, no signs of anything else. Touch wood.

    Joerg – Very true. On the news this evening they were talking about how they had to launch a major marketing campaign to get tourists to come, and the first thing EPI said was: ‘Just lock up Ólafur Ragnar’.

  • JimJones April 27, 2010, 3:47 am

    @Sue- Grocery stores. Get somewhere with an accessable kitchen and shop at grocery stores. That saves so much money. Also I found that booking as much as you can online also helped. Another thing(although you will have to check with your bank to make sure), usually it is a good idea as far as savings to get whatever money you need out daily and pay cash for your transactions(but if you are going outside of the EU make sure to keep your reciepts for the tax free shops so you can get money back as you leave).

    And below is my rambling. in response to Alda

    ***************

    Well, as someone who just got back from Iceland, I can say that being stuck there was pretty cool. I even thought of riding out my whole vacation there instead of going to Amsterdam.

    Except for the developing and expanding inferiority complex as it felt like I stepped into a Calvin Klein commercial(seriously, what do you do with your average/unattractive people? Do you keep them in an underground complex somewhere near Íshólsvatn?). And the now full blown addiction to saunas and heated pools. And the cries of protest from my poor liver if I did one more pub crawl(not to mention the pride that kept me from flirting with the locals was slowly eroding as the days passed).

    But, I have to say that I have fallen in love with Iceland and once I drop down to a nice 84 kg I will most likely go back. Maybe for Iceland Airwaves.

  • Luna_Sea April 27, 2010, 5:38 am

    “People are probably thinking they might get here and never be able to leave again.”

    One can only hope! I’ll be there next week and would be delighted to have circumstances beyond my control extend my stay.

    @ Julia
    “Any tips how to best arrange an affordable trip …”
    Yeah, don’t drink (and as they say in these parts- good luck with that one).

  • Joerg April 27, 2010, 7:47 am

    Sylvia, people in Namibia are usually extremely well informed about what’s going on in Europe. Many of them are of German descent, who have newspaper, radio and TV in German language, always with large chunks of international news. 

    Very different the other way round. In German media, the impression you might get about the area is one of crime ridden countries on the verge of civil war. This sensationalism is very detrimental to the tourism industry in South Africa. It reminds me of the media coverage of Eyjafjallajökull.  

  • Michael Lewis April 27, 2010, 12:43 pm

    “Russian priest has also blamed it on Iceland being a hotbed of paganism.”

    Just needs cheap beer, re-open strip clubs, and Iceland will be the perfect desitination for British stag parties 😉 Talking of which, I heard of one such Brit stag do, that resulted in a military escort out of Latvia. I kid you not.

    Here is hoping for clear rivers, plenty of trout, char and Salmon come July time….

  • Michael Lewis April 27, 2010, 2:50 pm

    Thing I don’t understand about Iceland and the tourist board or Icelanders could explain: Why do people want to stay in bunk bed style accomodation holding 30 people! Hveravellir was the name of the place, I’ll be fishing somewhere within an hour or so drive. Sorry, I’d rather pitch a couple of tents and no 2’s in the woods (no polar bears I hope) than stay in a room with 30 stangers. Must be a Nordic thing.

  • Paul H April 27, 2010, 4:29 pm

    If there is one country in the world I would love to be ‘stuck’ in…
    Still planning on visiting again this summer.
    Just so long as we can get a flight in, we’ll be coming.

  • Grif April 27, 2010, 5:43 pm

    [quote]People are probably thinking they might get here and never be able to leave again.[/quote]

    As other mentioned before … where can I opt in on this? :p

  • JimJones April 27, 2010, 8:24 pm

    [quote]People are probably thinking they might get here and never be able to leave again.[/quote]

    Well, I thought about it, but being a vegetarian, it would be really expensive. Not to mention having to figure out how to deal with the full blown sauna/heated pool addiction that would definitely happen(I was there for a little under a week and I have been getting the shakes from heated pool/sauna withdrawl).

  • Tania Jewkowicz April 27, 2010, 10:19 pm

    I’m looking forward to my trip to Iceland in June, which I planned months ago. I am more worried that nature would force its cancellation. When people asked me, Why Iceland? I told them I want to go before all the ice melts. Hmmm. What timing!

  • cak April 28, 2010, 1:07 am

    I have just droved past the area by the volcano, and…. there is no ash to see, everything is green, animals are out eating grasses. The rivers were biggr though…

    I gues all the crazy pictures we all saw from the area were of thoose verey few houses that´s located just beneneath the ash column.