It's so wonderful to be back home in America, although I loved going to Iceland. Just going to the grocery store and driving my own car in my neighborhood and resuming my life is exciting. I may not be going back to school, but now I'm looking forward to opportunities to share my experiences this past two weeks in magazine articles and classes that I will be teaching. My first class starts next Tuesday. I have four students already enrolled in FIND YOUR VOICE-a class in creativity based on Julia Cameron's book "An Artist's Way." but first I'm trying to recover from jet lag and very swollen ankles from so much traveling. I'm getting too old for this! Lol...
Where to start with my trip to Iceland is a dilemma, but I'll just begin with experiences I haven't shared and photos on my blog these past two weeks and there are many-2000 photos. So be patient. Overall, I was very impressed with Iceland. It's a calm, safe country to visit with a variety of gorgeous scenery everywhere: volcanoes, lava fields, waterfalls, rivers, glaciers, seasides, etc. It has such amazing scenery and a history that goes back to 870 AD not to mention the calm polite people who are so friendly. I met many new cousins related to my 2nd great grandmother. See some of the new relatives above and below:
Perhaps I'll start there-the family history side of my vacation. Seems that Iceland has a book called in English "The Icelanders Book" that lists the names of all living citizens of this country and their genealogy as far back as it goes. This is open to anyone listed in the book. In America would be considered an invasion of privacy, but over there it's a way to connect with long lost family members and cousins many times removed. The director of the Snorri Plus program had us turn in our Icelandic ancestors genealogy and then traced down out living cousins and called them to come meet us at a reception.
I met one family that way and they Einar Oddsson and his sister (in the first photo) invited me to come to a family party and meet the rest of their family. Their great grandmother Girdis Thordardottir was a sister to my 2nd great grandmother Vilbrog Thordardottir. I didn't expect the party of 30-40 relatives that I was taken to as an honored guest. Einar had made a BIG POT of lamb stew and some of the new cousins had prepared lovely Icelandic pancakes with whipped cream and fresh blueberries. There was a family display of old and current photos of the entire family. I gave them a copy of my history of Vilborg and told her story briefly. The older relatives were very interested. It was a delightful evening.
We talked in English or they interpreted my remarks to those who didn't speak English-the older women. I gave them a history book of my ancestor to keep. They gave me love and acceptance as a long lost family member. One of the 90 year old great grandmothers in broken English told me I had the eyes of their grandmother Gerdis. They gave me a lovely pair of hand knit woolen gloves and a small Icelandic flag. It was a really special highlight of my trip. Each of the seven of us participants from Canada and US met many of our relatives. More on my Westman relatives soon.
I was amazed that so many spoke such good English, my Icelandic was sparse and mostly mixed in with the little Swedish I learned years ago. But we communicated through smiles and hugs with others translating for us.