The morning began with the National Geographic Explorer cruising past Iceland’s impressive Latrabjarg Cliffs.The rocky formation rises out of the water – surely one of God’s most impressive natural sculptures spanning 14 kilometers long.Here we were on the western-most part of Iceland, which is also one of Europe’s largest bird cliffs.Our naturalists told fantastic stories of how the people of the past used to climb down the ropes of these cliffs to gather eggs; sometimes there were accidents that resulted in terrible injuries or even death! The people of this area relied on the eggs and birds as a major part of their diet – sometimes as many as 40,000 eggs and 36,000 birds were taken!Now, that is a lot of scrambled eggs!
Flatey Island and Puffins!
Today was also a first for Mr. S. as we made our way to a “dry” landing upon Flatey Island.The zodiac brought us right upon a white, metal floating dock that is kept on the Explorer.The zodiac’s nose nestled right into the opening of the floating contraption that allowed us to walk right up on the shore!
Flatey Island is one of the largest of the thousands of islands here.Large is not exactly a good word because the island has one road and maybe 20 colorful houses that are disconnected from the electronic world that we know.I took the option of going on a photographic walk learning from one of the National Geographic photographers.There is one small church and the tiniest library you have ever seen next to it.The sky was a soft blue with cotton candy-like clouds whisping above.We walked along the road to the cliffs and waited patiently for puffins!I was so excited to be able to snap a few pictures of them.They really feel like flying penguins even though they are not related.They move quickly and zip back and forth from their protected nests in the jagged rocks out to see to get a snack.The fish is so good in Iceland; I can see why they like it!
Ethereal Musicians of Iceland
This voyage is particularly special because National Geographic has made a point to bring a rich cultural enhancement on this expedition.Tonight, we were blessed to have a variety of musical performances by local Icelandic musicians.Mostly singing in Icelandic, the musicians sang about life, nature and love.The various stylizations were powerful and you could see the pure love of music on the faces of the performers as they played.The sounds blended into hypnotic melodies often sending chills on the back of my neck; it was impressive.Their songs told stories of sadness or joy. All of them had a deeply profound connection to the planet.It was a wonderful treat to see people who thrive and are energized by their artistic creations in music. Video will follow when I am back to regular internet. For now, I hope you are enjoying my stories from the North part of the world!
Here are two of the Icelandic performers that were brought to the ship. In the beginning, the musician talks a little about them and then goes into their song. It is magical! Enjoy!
Mr. Szymanski is a First Grade Teacher at Walt Disney Magnet School in Chicago, IL. He is a 2014 National Geographic Grosvenor Teaching Fellow. Last December, he traveled to Antarctica and shared the experience with his students through his Antarctica Blog.