I'm in Iceland. OK, don't ask. I know it sounds crazy but it was on the way home from Oslo and someone said it's magical in the wintertime, just pack a lot of sweaters. Oh, and I could see a glacier! So I couldn't pass up the opportunity.
The ride from the airport to Reykjavik was a little scary, what with the rain pouring down and the wind blowing and the huge-wheeled Land Rover (you know, for driving around glaciers!) swaying to and fro.
"It's a little storm, our second in a few days," proclaims Gummiey, my sweet Icelandic driver. I was told in advance he'd been on rescue crews and was very experienced with foul weather. "Tomorrow, no problem, we go to glacier," he says.
Well, of course the next day was worse. This storm appeared from no where as we were half way to the glacier, so we turned back towards the cozy comfort of the Hotel Borg. Time to call it a day.
At least until 3:30am when I could no longer ignore the howling winds that were rattling the windows of the bell tower I was sleeping in. (They tell me it's the same one Yoko Ono stays in!) So I call the front desk to ask, "Is the world coming to an end or is this normal?"
Now I've felt crazy winds before. Just a few weeks ago in Malibu the night before one of the worst wildfires in California history, now that was serious wind. Believe me, that freaked me out. But honestly this wind was worse.
So now I start wondering about my flight tomorrow and ask the front desk guy, 'Do you think the weather will affect that?' He tries to muffle his disdain at my suggestion. "This is Iceland. This is nothing. Our pilots are the best in the world, they fly in everything. They are all rescue trained." (What?! Well then who the heck is always being rescued and why?) He continues in an oh-so-convincingly Icelandic manner, "The airport never closes. Go back to sleep. Sunrise is at eleven."
Normally if somebody told me that at home I'd know better than to believe it, but you know what, he really calmed me down with that uber-confidence, he was so sure that I felt relieved and slept like a baby for ten hours! Feeling refreshed and care-free, I went for a great breakfast down the street and watched out the window. Out of nowhere again, the wind and rain picked up, so uh oh, I'd better get back to the hotel to pack. Walk out the door and who is there beside me on the street but Gummiey. What are the odds? Hey, someone I know in Iceland! I can't believe it. What?! Oh, you're looking for me? Oh, the airport is closed?
"Not just that Laurie," he says, "but even the road to the airport is closed." Because cars were being blown over!!!!!
Ok, that's it, I'm thinking. I need to find someone to tell me what's really happening here because being stranded in Iceland in December is not really my idea of a good time. So I cornered the new guy at the front desk, who's not as sure of his inner weathervane. He says in all his years growing up here there have never been three storms in a row in Iceland, but lately everything is coming earlier. He says, "This is our ninth storm since October! The weather is screwed up and there is no other explanation except global warming." I swear I didn't prompt that!
Everyone I've talked to here said that it was strangely warm, that it should be snowing, it should be ten below. (Hey I'm lugging an extra suit case just for all those heavy sweaters!)
"My birthday is December 23rd," the desk clerk continues. "There is always snow. Now it is a week away. No snow."
Okay, I've got about 18 hours to kill before I can attempt to go back to the airport again. So I go back to my room and turn on the TV and watch the BBC's extensive coverage of the climate summit in Bali and listen to the exasperation of the British reporter talking about how it's not the American people but the administration that is obstructing progress there. Meanwhile the rain pounds my window. My friend the desk clerk calls up and says that the airlines won't even answer the phone anymore. 5000 people are stranded here in Iceland, which could take two or three days to unravel.