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Location: Reykjavík

Wow, what a marvelous whirlwind. GoBeyond’s first year in Iceland has been a wild success, chock-full of adventures, service, and forging new friendships. Ben and I are sitting here in Reykjavík reminiscing over the incredible memories we’ve all made together. Now that everyone is homeward bound, it feels surreal to stop and take a moment to reflect on everything we’ve accomplished in the last 15 days.

Speaking of accomplishments, we just got word from Tommi at Blue Army that we cleaned up 680 kg of trash in the 3 hours we spent combing the beach on our last day (280 kg of plastic + 400 kg of fishing line). That’s 1,500 lbs of trash!!! Which breaks down to ~45 lbs per person each hour. Hope you are all proud of your work. I’m still astonished that we planted over 5,000 birch trees and spread 1.2 tons fertilizer while volunteering with the Soil Conservation Service and Landvernd up north. Not to mention when we weeded and planted a fresh vegetable garden at Sólheimar, and helped clear that walkway of moss, so the physical therapy room is handicap accessible. GOOD WORK TEAM. Ok, I’ll stop bragging now :p

Let’s take a second to go through the Iceland highlights reel: Just two weeks ago we were snorkeling between continental plates in the icy cold glacial waters of Silfra. Then we set out for the north, which included birch planting galore, happening upon a trumpet solo echoing through Ásbyrgi (what luck!), and exploring the waters of Selfoss before feeling the thunderous roar of Dettifoss. We marveled at humpback whales breaching in the evening sunlight of Húsavík and had so many cooking adventures in Keldunes. After that, we headed south to Sólheimar to learn about sustainability and put our green thumbs to the test before falling head over heels for the curious, majestic Icelandic horses. Next was our Sólheimajökull glacier expedition where we tasted rainbows in the glacier ice, then frolicked in the mist behind Seljalandsfoss. Finally, we meandered through Reykjavík some more and took a cooking and language lesson with Gígja and Egill at the Tin Can Factory. We sampled traditional Icelandic dishes including EVERY part of a sheep face and practiced saying the longest word in the Icelandic language, “vaðlaheiðarvegavinnuverkfærageymsluskúraútidyralyklakippuhringur.” That is a heck of a lot in two weeks’ time!

From Day 1 of bonding at the Blue Lagoon, you all impressed me with your maturity and your commitment to having fun. None of you shied away from engaging in meaningful conversation. You are genuinely thoughtful and articulate individuals, and our conversations on the long bus rides added such richness to this journey. No matter how many breathtaking places you visit, or how many awesome activities you cram into a trip, it’s often the people who truly make the experience meaningful. You are all marvelous human beings, and we feel so lucky to have shared this experience with every one of you. I challenge you all to go forth and continue to dedicate yourself to the issues that matter most to you. You are strong; you are smart, you are capable! We love you lots.

_________

Keeley (& Ben)

p.s. #neverforget robo-hamster, the smell of hákarl, Homeblest, spit extravaganzas, foss on foss on foss/ drinking from waterfalls, midnight sunrises, horse cuddles, cry-laughing, artistic Icelandic pancakes, and most importantly that y’all are a notch above the crème de la crème… or should I say AB mjólk? 😉