Day 13 was most definitely the tastiest day of the trip. Wake up was at 7:30, an early morning. Luckily, Keeley and Patrick made us all pancakes, which made the morning better. After eating, we headed out the door to hop on a bus to Sjavarlasinn, the Icelandic Ocean Cluster (A building featuring a fish market, restaurants, and offices), where we met up with Birna, our service leader for the day. Here Birna taught us all about plastic waste in the ocean, and we learned about the Blue Army and the importance of our service for the day. Birna explained the damage of marine debris all around the world and encouraged us to not only work super hard at our beach cleanup but to also reduce our consumption of single-use plastics in our daily life.
After our lesson, we were all prepared to hop back on the bus and head to the beach for our beach cleanup. When we arrived at Grindavik, a beach that is littered with plastic, we all put on our work gloves one last time, walked towards the rocks by the water, and got straight to work. We moved rock after rock, determined to pick up every piece of the helmet, milk jug, bucket, and fishing net that we saw. Our team of students worked together, whether it was helping each other lift a heavy rock or reaching for a piece of plastic tucked far down. We were motivated to get everything we saw. I think we can all agree that seeing the amount of trash that ended up on a single beach is an eye-opening experience; I know I’ll think twice before using that single-use Starbucks cup again.
After 2 hours of hard work, we all got our lunches and sat on a grassy hill. There we ate our lunch, a peaceful meal. Or so we thought. We were greeted by not one, but three very hungry horses with no sense of personal space. They got right up in our faces in search of food. After eating our lunches with the horses, we filed back on to the bus and headed back to our apartments for a bit of downtime.
At around 4:00, we headed out the door and walked to The Tin Can Factory for our Icelandic history, language, and food class. We were greeted by Gigja and Egill, our teachers for the next three hours. To kick off our lesson, we learned about Icelandic history and all about how the Vikings that first settled in Iceland shaped it into the place we have been exploring. Though this lesson was interesting, I had my eye on the food. We first made combinations of bread, butter, fish, herbs, and meats, a tasty start. We then began to eat a whole sheep head, and I mean the whole head. We munched on the eye, tongue, inner and outer cheek, ear, and even the nose. Surprisingly, most of the group enjoyed this; some even got seconds or thirds. After shoving our faces with sheep, bread, and an Icelandic Christmas drink, we sat back down for the language portion of our lesson. Learning the 32 letter alphabet as well as our new and improved Icelandic names, and discovering just how long Icelandic words can be. Once we were all masters at the language of Iceland, we eagerly hopped to our feet for more food. We were very happy to not only get a delicious stew, skyr with delectable syrups but to finally eat the otherworldly Icelandic pönnukaka (aka. pancakes for the gods).
We all took turns making our own pancake or trying to make one. Once we were all seated with a pancake on our plates, we spread jelly on one half, piled whipped cream in the middle, and folded our pancakes over twice. Everyone dug their forks in, anxious for a taste. That first bite was heavenly. After devouring our first pancakes, we all went in for seconds and more. We ate pancakes until it became physically impossible to eat anymore. I can assure you, no pancake is as good as an Icelandic one. After our graduation ceremony, we all walked home with a very full stomach, bringing our day to an end.