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september edition | east workcamp | 2015

a worldwide friends magazine

Melting pot in Iceland North-East Iceland, latitude 64.8350°, in the middle of fjords, walking on dry lava somewhere between the Eurasian and the American plakes. This is how ten people from all corners of the world chose to share their lives for ten days to discover one another as to discover all together the infinite mysteries of Iceland. The experience takes place in Stodvafjordur, a small village surrounded by the ocean. This former richest village of Iceland is now this surrealistic lost village within the immensity of pristine nature, animed by 300 people. Golden green, always craddled with the melody of waves, sinuous, colourful and filled with artcraft and galleries, this shining point of life proudly welcomes its visitors with the biggest stone museum of Europe, an artistic center, a tourist information point and above all, the warm smiles and greetings of its inhabitants. In the middle of the village, near the swimming pool is a three-floor building, formerly a bank gone bankrupt. Between artistic squatt, cosy apartment and mecanic repair, this charming hybrid place was chosen by the association WorldwideFriends to host volunteers for an amazing intercultural experience. Two Japanese students (one in Philosophy and the other in Languages), one South Korean girl living in Dublin, two Bask students (Physiotherapy and Psychology) and a Catalan student in Economy, two Italians, one working to help the refugees, the other in photo reportages, a Dutch girl expert in communication &

media, and one French girl dedicated to cultural mediation and

art. As different as our cultures and ways of life can be, we found many similarities from the first day on that brought us closer. All very curious and full of enthousiasm, we aspire to learn from our cultures and from each other, to enjoy every single moment with laugh and lightness and to experience as many new and crazy things as our bodies can bear. And one common factor attracted us here: understand and inmortalize from every angle the land and its inhabitants hosting us for ten days. Enlivened by the will to share, we not only provide you our researches and interviews of Iceland(ers) but also some “comparisons� with our own countries.

Table of content Categorie Subject


Story of the Lighthouse Grótta Lighthouse and Kambanesviti Lighthouse There are around 120 lighthouses scattered along the coast of

such as the Garðskagaviti Lighthouse at the tip of the Reykjanes

Iceland, some of them quite prominent, standing proud and facing

Peninsula and the Akranesviti Lighthouse on the Akranes Peninsula

the harsh weathers of the North Atlantic. Others are more humble

in West Iceland.

and weathered after serving passing ships and boats for decades. Most of them are under the supervision of the Icelandic Road and

We have visited two of them: the Grótta Lighthouse in Reykjavik

Coastal Administration and therefore visited on a regular basis for

and Kambanesviti Lighthouse close to Stöðvarfjörður. The Gróttuviti

maintenance. One thing is for sure: they are well taken care of.

lighthouse, as know as Grótta Lighthouse, is a historic tower built

Some of these lighthouses now decorating the Icelandic shoreline are truly beautiful, proud landmarks and monuments of their makers. Some of them are located in quite remote places on rocks and points, a few meters from the powerful waves of the North Atlantic Ocean. Most lighthouses are accessible and popular to visit among hikers. A few lighthouses in Iceland are open to the public and sometimes offering concerts and art displays for visiting tourists and guests,

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on a small offshore island the Grótta, near the little town called Seltjarnarnes. It marks the entrance to the harbor of Reykjavik, not far from the city center, around 5 km West of downtown. The first structure was built in 1897, and the current aspect dates from 1947. It is one of the many Iceland’s lighthouses still active in the country. The lighthouse is usually not open to visitors but even then you will still enjoy fine views on a clear day and a marvelous opportunity for a panorama of a huge chunk of Faxafloi bay by which Reykjavik

city sits. This is the best point of view to see northern light, sunset and midnight sun. This place is very easy and cheap to get to. The best way to experience this area is to walk from downtown Reykjavik by the shoreline, this will take around 1 hour at a leisurely pace. But you can also drive or even better, cycle, to the parking lot just near the lighthouse that is on an island just off the beach. Easier still is hop on board bus number 11 from downtown and get off at Lindargotu road. From there a five minute walk and you are done. The space surrounding the Grótta Lighthouse is a popular recreational area and also a bird sanctuary. For this reason, tourist access is forbidden between May and July. Several species of birds every year choose Grótta for nesting, and during some months of the year the whole area is bustling with life. If you’re not careful enough, you can easily become an intruder and be attacked by feathered creatures incited by your presence. The list of birds you may see armed with binoculars and a lot of patience includes: Black Headed Gull, Red-breasted Merganser, Ruddy Turnstone, Long-tailed Duck or Oldsquaw, The Red-necked Phalarope, Greater Scaup, Calidrids, Eurasian Oystercatcher and Black-legged Kittiwake.

The space surrounding the grótta lighthouse is a popular recreational area In this amazing place Björk, one of Iceland‘s most famous musician, has a black house, it is her favourite place for stretches of isolated song writing. Here she has released a beautiful video for her song Stonemilker from the Vulnicura album. The video shows the singer and her surroundings in a 360-degree film. The tide and fleeting winter daylight gave her only a few hours to make the video. The other lighthouse we have visited is in the region of Austurland in East Iceland, around 600 km from Reykjavik. It is the Kambanesviti Lighthouse and it is located on the tip of the peninsula between Stöðvarfjörður Fjord (Stodvarfjordur) and Breiðdalsvík Cove (Breiddalsvik). Built in 1922, it’s made of concrete and stands 11.3 metres high and 26 metres above sea level. Accessible by road and a short hike down to the tower. But this is not as easy as it sounds. Walking from Breiðdalsvík to the lighthouse will provide you with an amazing view. You’ll see some wild animals like horses and sheeps,

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there are small waterfalls coming down from the mountain and a lot of birds fly around you. But it depends on the conditions of the weather if the walk will feel like a walk by the beach in Hawaii or it feels like one of the hardest work-out you’ve ever done. So we were lucky to experience the last one. This came with mountains hidden in the clouds, which looked like a fantasy, something mysterious was happening there. This was the lovely part of the extreme weather conditions. On the other hand the wind and rain where horrible. When we finally were close to the lighthouse you have to leave the steady road en walk through the rough nature. The wind was so strong that we almost blew away. The rain made the ground feel like a sponge, with every step we took the feet would sink into the ground, sometimes you couldn’t even see you’re feet anymore.

the rain made the ground feel like a sponge When finally arriving to the other side of the hill we couldn’t find the lighthouse anymore. At last after climbing over big rocks and jumping over pools of water we saw it, next to the water. Even with the extreme weather conditions it was beautiful to see. Imagine how it could be if it weather was calm the sun was shining and you could keep dry feet…

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Economic growth supported by tourism Icelandic travel and tourism is one of the

steadily at an average annual rate of 6%.

that gap was almost 25 per cent in 2014,

fastest-growing sectors of the Icelandic

In 2004, travellers to Iceland increased to

primarily due to the huge rise in visitors

economy. Today, tourism in Iceland

362,200 from 320,000 the year before, or

travelling to the scenic North Atlantic

accounts for approximately 13% of the



country’s income from foreign sources. It is estimated that the travel and tourism

Foreign currency earnings from foreign

sector provides 5,400 jobs and that the

tourists were estimated at ISK 37,300

Nearly half the industry revenue was

volume of Icelandic tourism accounts for

million making the industry second after

brought in by airfare, while 158bn krona

about 4,5% of the GNP. Gross National

Fisheries in foreign currency earnings.

went directly into hotels, restaurants

Product (GNP) is the value of all products

and other service providers. The number

and services produced in one year by

National statistics office Hagstofa Islands

of visitors is again expected to increase

labour and property supplied by citizens of

published figures showing that tourism-

over the course of 2015, with more than

a country.

related business recorded sales of 304bn

a million tourists to touchdown in the

krona last year – 27bn krona more than in

country for the first time ever.

Over the past decade, the number of

2013. Two years ago, tourism sales were

travellers to Iceland has been growing

just two per cent above fishing sales, but

Export of goods and services 29 27


25 23,4

23 21





17 15 2009



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When ecology and Economy meet in Iceland Iceland. A land entirely created out of

feed their livestock and use it as manure.

lava, mountains and rivers, remained

The different people we interviewed all

unspoiled and undisturbed until 870.

conveyed to say that since 10 years, people

Still today, with its modest 300 000

got aware of environmental protection

inhabitants, 130 volcanoes, 62.7% of

and changed their behaviour, by using

tundra and 11% of glaciers, Iceland ranks

less their car, systematically recycling, and

as the 13th cleanest country in the in Yale

doing every little thing they can at their

University’s Environmental Performance

scale. “ I do everything I can do to respect

Index. This is mainly due to its clean and

nature and I think some big change can

abundant water, its natural reserves, and

happen if everything does so� said us the

an economy based on renewable use with

swimming pool manager. This useful and

geothermic energy. Here, nature is wild

productive philosophy is on good way to

and imposing. To give you an idea, the

maintain the environment, all the more in

national parc Vatnajokull, more than being

a 300 000 inhabitant island. Yet industrial

the biggest reserve in Europe, covers 13%

projects are slowing down such active

of island.


A respectful local adaptation to nature

A stormy settlement

Icelanders enjoyed such prolific nature

Though Islanders indeed adapted to the

and thus base 85% of their energy upon

nature and manage to live in a sustainable

renewable sources : 65% of geothermy,

way, the capitalism and greedy way of living

20% of hydroelectricity. Islanders are right

of our last centuries tend to unbalance for

to brag about their clean energy because

the worse the human-nature coevolution.

they indeed endeavour to live respecting

For few and discret as the Icelanders can

the nature. 85% of houses are heated

be, it is also discretly that they rank first

thanks to geothermy.

The last decade

in the classment of consomption of energy

has seen an enthousiasm for electricity,

per habitant. This is nevertheless quite



understandable as they need to protect

people, among whom some inhabitants

themselves from such Arctic cold. But

of Stodvarfjordur, explain they do their

their high standards of living also explain

utmost to waste or to use their car as less

such classment. Having ranked among the

as possible, and reuse as more as possible.

richest country until 2007, the average

For instance, the restaurant of this town

Islander used to have a kat kat, second

gives all its extrafood to the farm so to

homes and cutting edge technology.




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Besides, the erosion of Icelandic pristine

18,000 km2 so seriously as to be useless.

production. Foreign firms thus established

nature is nothing but new, as the no-tree

The commerce at all costs also altered

massively on this little island to produce

land reputation is due to the Viking’s

Iceland, as the sales of stone marten fur,

aluminnium. The probllem is

frenetic itch to take off trees along their

extensive tourism or selling parts of the

production figures within the most

ways, for firewood and timber. Though

ocean as fishing zones. Nevertheless,


reforestation has been undertaken since, it

government remained strict and cautious

production. In 1969 the Canadian firm Tio

has nothing to do with the “forested from

by imposing quotas and strict policies

Tinto Alcan established the first aluminium

mountain to seashore” land that Iceland

to prevent from extinctions and natural

plant in Iceland. With the “help” of the

used to be, as Ari the Wise described it in

disasters. For instance many deputees in

two other smelting plants settled in

late 12th century.

the Parliament fight for natural sites to

Iceland since, they use 80% of the energy

remain free. To search for such disasters

produced in Iceland.. This is all the more

we shall take a look at the industries.

outrageous when we realise that only 1%

Icelanders have found many other ways to transform their ecosystem. Mainly, deforestation,



that this

and electricity-conssuming

of the benefits of such production goes to When Iceland economy feels alone, the

the Icelanders (those who are employed

during the Little Ice Age and overgrazing by

nature carries the can

in these firms), all the rest being reserved

sheep imported by settlers caused a loss

Since the end of 1960, the production

to the parent forein companies, while

of critical topsoil due to erosion. Concretly,

of aluminium drastically developped in

it is also creating debts for Icelanders

three-quarters of Iceland’s 100,000 square

Iceland, the abundant


to such companies... Being obsessed

kilometres are affected by soil erosion,


geothermy being ideal for such

with the foreign investissements, the

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Thanks to people, the government changes. Since 10 years, a lot of things have been improved regarding environmental measures. Yet there is still a lot of things to improve





Among those, the project to re-categorize

a change in individual behaviours. Such

currently) authorises the US firm Alcoa to

eight sites as “utilizable” options for

changes finally reached governments,

build huge dam at the entry of Vatnajokull

the construction of hydroelectric power

which thus promoted nature protection,

national park to supply an aluminium

plants. Fortunately, this is still in discussion

implementing environmentally friendly

smelting plant. Such dam has doubled the

as members of the Parliament opposed to

measures such as keeping nature reserves

production of energy in Iceland..Since the

such plan. Yet, judging by the past years

free and putting into force strict policies

economic crisis, the government keeps

and the fact that the curr conservative

about aluminium disposals. this is the

on financiating such kind of projects and

party decimed 70% of the environmental

avantage of living in a small country what’s

selling huge parts of unspoiled nature to

ministery, the hour shall be more at

more the one where the first Parliament

foreign firms. The foreign investissements

protesting and occupying such threatened

ever was created. If people impulse and

indeed represent for Iceland a goldsend

sites than at optimism.If you want to get

promote some change, the government

to revitalise its economy.. at the cost of

informed and oppose to such projects you

should follow.

environment and the national economy.

can take a look at

Parliament passed rules to attract foreign

We still can remain hopeful towards

manufacturing such as a 10-year cap on

the influence of people on government

the 20% corporate rate, which is among

measures. According to the Islanders

the lowest in the world. but the worse is to

we interviewed, the civil awareness

come as many nature-destroying projects

of environmental issues that occured

keep on gushing in politicians’ minds.

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How the government closed the east coast What used to be the riches village of Iceland turned into an abandoned city, all because of a decision made circa 30 years ago.

In the Austerland on the north side of the Stöðvarfjörður Fjord between the Stedji and Súlur mountain you find a small village called Stöðvarfjörður. This used to be the riches village of Iceland, but now when passing through all you see is an abandoned place, gone glory. When someone tells you until 1984 this town had the highest income of Iceland per person, all because of the rich fishery, it seems unlikely. ‘You could just pick the fish out of the water here at the coast line, there where so much’. We asked the people of Stöðvarfjörður what happened. In the 15th century was the first conflict about the fishing area around Iceland, between the Icelandic government and a foreign country. This was the beginning of the “cod wars”. In 1901 the government of Iceland declared a fishing limit of three miles (4,8 kilometres) from the coast. Because of the treat of big multinationals and shrinking fish population the limit of three miles was extended up to 200 miles (321.9 kilometres) in 1976. But it was already to late most of the valuable fish stocks were being overfished. During the past years a lot of the fish factories on the east coast of Iceland had to close. There is not enough fish for all the factory’s to stay open. According to the people in Stöðvarfjörður this happened because a big multinational bought the ocean. Unfortunately we couldn’t find anywhere if this is a speculation or the truth. In Stöðvarfjörður the last factory closed in 2005 and a lot of the people left the village because there was not enough work anymore. The empty fish factories became derelict. Starting in 2008 people tried to give the empty factory’s new life. A man bought two of the buildings to store summer vehicles during winter. During summer time there are hand craft markets and events. In 2009 and 2010 they organised an exhibition about the fish factory. They showed how the factory used to look like and how the life in Stöðvarfjörður was.

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You could just pick the fish out of the water, here at the coast line, there where so much.

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Strange habit s of nature a sky that’s dancing Northen lights are (usually, but not always) green lights that can

on the ground. Here in Iceland, seeing the northern lights is most

be seen from places in the far north such as Iceland, Scandinavia,

certainly annual and regular, although still rather unpredictable.

Alaska and northern parts of Canada. Because of their nature it looks like the lights are moving around the sky, dancing if you

To see big and beutiful northlights there are some factors that

will, and it’s a pretty spectacular sight. But, What are the Northern

needs happens. Guaranteed darkness is the first important factor.

Lights? Why they appear?

The best season to see the northern lights in Iceland is from

The northern lights are the result of electrically charged particles from the sun colliding with gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing displays of bright, colourful dancing lights. They are visible in the magnetic polar regions of the northern and southern hemispheres and they can range in colour from white, green, pink and purple. The most common colour you can see is the green but in fact, in the photos of our volunteer team there were some lights purple and pink. According to the Northern Lights Centre in Canada, scientific studies have found that the northern and southern Auroras often occur at the same time as mirror images. This of course means that the Auroras are often happening, even if they aren’t visible to us down

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September to mid-April – these are the months where there are full dark nights. Our group were very lucky because we have been in September so we could see a exciting northenlights. Second most important factor is the length of time you choose to stay in Iceland. The northern lights usually tend to be very active for two to three nights, then low for four to five nights, in ongoing cycles. Next important factor is the weather. Since Iceland is a small north Atlantic island, it is subject to fierce and rapidly changing weather. In order to see the northern lights, the skies need to be very clear. This often coincides with some of the coldest nights, since clear dark weather in Iceland usually means temperatures below freezing.

at noon in Iceland. The city of Iceland is surrounded by a river, the

Difference of nature Japan vs Iceland My name is Saya. I live in Tokyo,Japan.I couldn’t image what Iceland has before I came to Iceland. So, I wanted to see that with my eyes and also I wanted to find what difference between Japan and Iceland. Iceland is so far from Japan. There is about 8,600km distance from Japan to Iceland and takes 20hours include transfer. It is hard for Japanese to come Iceland. I think there are many Icelandic who have never been to Japan. So, I would like to talk about what the difference is between Japan and Iceland. First,I talk about population and area.I thought population of Iceland is low. This is because we can see many people when we walk the city on the night in Japan. But we don’t see many people 22 | una magazine | september east edition

sea, a mountain and tree. In Japan,there are many buildings which we use for working and living and many people. Japan has convenience store in which we can buy something like food, beverage and book. It opens 24hours!! If we need something at night, we can go to convenience store. The population of Japan is about 127 million people, and the area is about 380,000km². Density of population is 336persons/ km². In Iceland, there are the population of Iceland is 320,000 people, and the area is about 103,00km².The density of population is 3persons/ km².This shows the population of Japan is higher than Iceland. If you come to Japan and go sightseeing, you can visit many tourist spots like Tokyo Tower, Disneyland and etc. However, they are all building not nature. The tourist spots which I visit are waterfall, mountain and sea with glaciers. Those are all nature. It’s amazing!! Next, I talk about traffic.Most people always use train,bus and car

to go to school,company and somewhere in Japan. If they go place nearby, they go there by bike. The train of Japan comes a station for every 5mins and departures on time. It is very useful for us to use it. However, it is crowded by people and sometimes some people can’t ride the train. In Iceland, there is no train so Icelandic use a bus and car. It is strange for Japanese not to use the train. And also I saw many people who hitchhike. I don’t have many people who hitchhike in Japan. I have never seen the person who hitchhike. The environment is different from Japan and Iceland. I can’t believe that it’s in the same earth. I’m always living surrounded by a lot of people and many building, it was strange to live in the environment surrounded. But I think that it is good for me to spend in Iceland because there are natures.If I don’t come to Iceland, I wouldn’t be able to know many thing about Iceland. This is good experience for me.

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IceFantasy Elfs, fairy’s, trols and other creatures

It is thought that Troll, magician, ghost, and elf exist in Iceland. (Icelandic word: Troll, Gardramadur, Draugur, Alfur) The elf is important for Icelandic people. They also have not only the small fairy whom we imagine but also the one that the appearance and shape that looked like human. They are also called “Huldufork” (Hidden people). “Alfar” is well known to Icelandic. Elves usually live in the forest and the rock, etc and invisible, but can be seen if they feel like it. They can be helpful and kind to those who do them no harm, and repay favors with favors. On the other hand, they can also be malicious and take revenge if harmed. What is the elf's existence for people in Iceland? It was discontinued by the nature conservation group in Iceland though the road construction was scheduled to be done in recent years in Iceland. Surprisingly, the high court of justice confessed their existence, and more than 60% of the Icelandic nation believe. Thus, there are people who importantly regard the elf in Iceland, too. There are people who defend so that their places are not threatened. Moreover, there is a school that can learn about the fairy in Iceland, and it is possible to learn excluding the elf. (The Elfschool) Do a lot of Icelandic believe in elf? Iceland is converted to the Christianity in 1000 in the Christian era. It kept transmitting the legend of the private organization on the other hand without being excluded to it. Even if a new culture that the Christianity of people in Iceland enters, an old culture and nature have been being valued. From the point, they believe and cherish the elf. About the elf in Iceland It is equal to valuing the environment and nature that people in Iceland value the elf. I stay 1in Iceland for about one month, and it has been understood well. The mountain and the river are more than the house, and is clear air. And, I felt that it was a country that spent time easily though there were a lot of cold days. I think that thinking that the fairy exists in such an environment is natural. Maybe, when the aurora is seen, you think that you feel it so. I believe that there is the elf. Do you believe the elf?

Icelanders vs. Basques How a law allowed killing the Basques’

A law of 1615 was allowing the Basques'

want to encourage basque people not to

Cristián VI decided to put a law allowing

murder in the district of the Western Fiords

be afraid about coming to this beautiful

Iceland people killing basques. In that

of Iceland and nobody remembered to

island because it is consider to be one of

year three basques galleon´s arrived to

repeal it until the last April 22. The law was

the safest country of the world, besides it

one of the fiords of west of Iceland and

promulgated by the Danish king Cristián IV

is an incredible place that everybody in life

three days later basques people when

and made it fulfils Ari Magnússon, chief

should visit at least ones.

they were celebrating the returning a

of the region, in order that his neighbours

huge storm came, that was the moment

were chasing to the Basque whale-boats

Why had they accept that law? Before

where it started the disaster, the galleon

that had just suffered a shipwreck: they

1615 the relationship between Basque

were completely broken so they had to

killed 32, the major massacre of the

and Iceland people was very good but

come again. 83 guys were completely wet,

history of Iceland.

after 1615 the relation between them

without anything, no food, no clothes...

it changed completely. Iceland was the

and the worse thing was that the winter

This law did not have sense because in

poorest country in Europe, it also suffered

was arriving very quickly.

Iceland it is supposed that for enough

pirates attack, in fact, the first time that

time killing any person is Basque or of

a basque galleon appeared, they though

As we have mentioned before, Iceland

any other country is forbidden, so we

that they were attackers, so that spring

was the poorest country in Europe,

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Basque sailor wanted to buy some sheep

time till the fight, so eventually, they mixed

by the basques in Icelandic waters. Some

but the Icelandic people turned down

them language to understand each others

locations in Westfiords still carry the name

them because they had not enough food

in a simple way. The point is that the

that Basques had given them. Recent

for them. So the captain of the galleon

Basques were probably the first Europeans

excavations suggest that they may have

went to Jon Grimsson house, a priest of

to engage in organized whaling. As early

operated a land-based whaling station in

Iceland and he asked him for some sheep,

as the 12th century, they began to hunt

Steingrímsfjördur. Basques came to terms

Villafranca told him that they had a big

Northern Right in the Bay of Biscay. After

since both parties benefited from the

doubt because they gave them wales fat

the depletion of the species in Spanish


for free, the priest did not care about that

waters, they expanded their hunt to the

Then, there is a manuscript: Basque-

and he completely said no, so basque

coasts of Labrador (Newfoundland) and


sailors hit the priest, that was the moment

Iceland. As we know, whaling at that time

blendingsmál). The lingo consists of words

that started the fight between Basque and

was dangerous business. That being done

from Basque. It is said to originate from

Icelandic people.

with hand harpoons from small wooden

West Fjords the said manuscript was

51 basques stated stilling everything,

boats, so, anyone could do it.

discovered there. In addition, nowadays

sheep, fish and also a ship so they could



both languages still use some of those

leave Basque country way. The other 32

Sources from the 17th and 18th centuries

person were kill by Icelandic by different

testify to the extensive whaling carried in

words, see the table.

ways. At the last episode, Villafranca was in a house and Magnusson and Grimsson went to that house, the basque captain started saying sorry but it was not enough and although the priest forgive him another Icelander killed him.

Mixed languages As we have told, Icelanders and Basques have been working together for a long







Balee whale















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A traveler’s story The adventure of Steve In Stöðvarfjörður we met Steve, he’s from Hamilton in New Zealand,

Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chilli, New Zealand, Australia,

30 year’s old, at least two meters tall and has funny curly hair. At

Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Bali, Lombok, Thailand, Vietnam,

the moment he works as a volunteer in an art factory in the east of

Hong Kong, The Netherlands and finally Iceland. When visiting so

Iceland. But that’s not where his journey begun.

many countries’ you experience some crazy stuff.

In 2010 he left his home country to experience the ‘European life’,

It already started in Colombia. Because of a dry skin he put the

he moved to the Netherlands. For almost a year he lived in Baarn,

coconut oil all over his body. Standing in the shower, trying to get

worked in Bilthoven at bike shop and tried to learn Dutch in Utrecht.

clean again there just fall a snake in to the shower! It was a small

After a year he moved to Enschede, which is close to the German

one, not longer than one meter, but one bite of this snake can kill

border, where he started to work together at the university. Still he

you. Not able to finish his shower meant that he was still covered in

took every change he had to make a small trip to another country.

coconut oil. It took until the next day before he good get clean. In

So in a couple of years he’d seen almost whole Europe.

these moments you learn to appreciate the simple things as taking

Last year he decided to quit his job and travel around the world.

a shower.

‘This was probably the hardest thing I had to do, telling everybody

In Peru he went to Machu Pichu, but there are only two ways to get

that next year I won’t be here.’ In January 2015 he stared a trip

there: by train or by bus. The train is by far the most savest way, but

around the world, in eight months he visited four continents!

it’s also really expensive. So this was not an option, which means

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that he had to take the bus. The bus is cheap and it takes a long

know what you will do and when you will do it. But in South America

time to get in Machu Pichu, this shouldn’t be a problem. Maybe

it’s nothing like that. If you want to go somewhere you just get on

it could be a problem that the bus drives next to a cliff, the drivers

the bus and hope that everything works out. Surprisingly nothing

are no good and the buses are way to old. Luckily he survived the

went wrong, but it’s hard to let go if you’re not used to that.

suicide bus trip!

Right know he works as a volunteer in an art factory in Iceland.

Taking mushrooms in Gili Air, which is close to Bali, was probably

Before this he worked in the National park close to Dortmund. He

one of the craziest things he experienced. ‘I laughed the whole

helped renovating the infrastructure in the park and now he is the

night’. Also surfing on a reef with waves over two to three meters

handyman who everybody needs.

is you do not do every day. And in even though it was a short ride, he’ll never forget the motor ride he took in Vietnam.

It’s hard to keep on traveling, stay motivated to visit amazing places and be amazed

But why give up the traveling? ‘It’s hard to keep on traveling, stay motivated to visit amazing places and be amazed about them again and again. One beautiful mountain will look like the other one. So on one moment there is no reason to weak up early and you will start living from party to party. If you’re a volunteer in a foreign country you have a purpose to get up in the morning. You have a daily structure and get more involved in the culture of the country.’

In Koh Phangan (Thailand) he got the Dengue fever. It’s a desease you get from the mosquitos. If you’re body is out of shape this desease can kill you. Luckily that didn’t happen, but he was sick for two weeks. He sad it was horrible it feels like you have a fever, head- and stomachache and everything is itchy all at the same

And why Iceland, after all it’s only the fifth time he’s here! He sad that it didn’t necessary needed to be Iceland, maybe after this he’ll do some volunteering in another country. He is already in contact with a nice family in Italy; they live close to Rome in a beautiful farmhouse and need a good Handyman.

time. It takes a lot of energy to get better form desease like this.

Steve would describe his journey as a learning curve for himself.

During his recover he lost around 11 pounds.

He learned what he does and doesn’t like, and how he pictures his

One of the hardest things he experienced happened in South America. In the Netherlands he learned to plan everything. You

future. He learned that the most important things for him are the people who are with him. As long as there are good people around, it doesn’t matter where you are. september east edition | una magazine | 29

The food of the island known as one of the moste disgusting food’s om the world

Sharks don’t urinate

spiked scales and can grow as large as 24 feet in length.

One of the most eccentric experience you can try in Iceland it’s the

Shockingly, the shark doesn’t actually smell upon first inspection,

culinary challenge to eat Hakarl, known as one of the disgusting

the door blessedly protected by its dry and rigid skin. Only when

food in the world, eating the most dangerous animal of the sea:

the hide is cut away to reveal the rotten flesh does the rancid

Shark and Whale

stench waft through the air, singeing the nostrils and back of throat.

The shark do not urinate as most animals do, they convert urin to

Minke whale

urea, a toxic compund which is really converted ammonia. Urea is

The whale is a widely distributed and diverse group of fully aquatic

absodbed in the flesh and expelled by through the skin. When a

marine mammals. It is worth mentioning here that the only whale

shark dies this urea is converted back to ammonia, for this reason

type consumed in Iceland is minke whale (which has never been

shark meat tasty and smally really bad. So for preparing the meat

considered endangered!) Whale meat can both be eaten rew or

you need many months for to let clean the meat, buried under the

cooked. Icelanders will let you know that minke whale is not an

ground, but still remain horrible. When foreigners try to eat Hakarl,

endangered species, but for some visitors, it´s still whale and

almost people looked stiff look on their face and take a picture for

that´s a full-stop no-way, while others use the ´i will just try it

taking a commemorative photograph.


Hakarl is made from a Greenland shark that lives in the polar waters

“Meet Us Don’t eat us” is campaign to take whale meat off the

of the North Atlantic Ocean. When their Viking forebears settled

menu for tourists. The campaign is a positive campaign because

the island centuries ago, Greenlandic shark, which is abundant in

when we approach tourists and also Icelanders, we point out that

the city waters of the North Atlantic, became the main staple of the

the most sustainable way to enjoy whales is by responsable whale

island. The problem with the Greenland shark, other than the fact

watching – better for whales and the Icelandic economy.

that it is fairly ugly, is that the meat is toxic to humans. It has thick, 30 | una magazine | september east edition

Icelander and Irish mixed - JIWOO KIM

short stories made in a lit tle village on a small island in the big ocean

After the wall One of the most important phenomenon of the last years it’s for sure the “Song of the ice and fire”, better known for the TV serial “Game of thrones”, and which better location can describe the earth after the wall, virgin and untouched by human, than the real earth of ice and fire, as Iceland is known.

Boom tourism

Jon Snow and his night’s watch for theirs


exploration after the wall, looking for

volcanoes, glaciers, icebergs, hot springs,

undead, white walker and other magical

theater of our favorite show, make of

creatures, pass for the must-see tourist

Iceland one of the most fantastic country

attraction up here; Like the vast Lake

to visit, indeed in the last few years the

Myvatn, a desolate place surrounded

number of tourist is incredible grown,

by lava stacks used for several scenes,

the share of tourism rose 55% from 2009

important even Grjótagjá, a cave with a

through 2013, and it’s still increasing, The

hot spring where the water can get up to

nation is preparing for what many are

50 degree and has been the Jon and Ygritte

calling a gold rush in, a number of visitors

love nest.

are set to jump 23% this year and to as

And the most mysteries area after the




many as 3 million a year by 2020.

wall you can find in Vatnajökull the vast

This could change completely the face

mountainous area of south-east Iceland

of Iceland as we know, many locals are

forms Europe's largest glacier, located in

afraid of these numbers, for a country

the largest national park of Europe The

with a population of just 320,000 people

scenery is extremely varied. Towards

and think that Iceland is not ready, while

the north, the highland is divided by

the government is raising the funds for

glacial rivers, and the volcanoes of Askja,

tourism sector, to build the necessary

Kverkfjöll over this region, together with

infrastructure, and get ready for this

the volcanic table mountain Herðubreið,

boom. For sure, after the economic crisis

which Icelanders call the Queen of the

of 2008, the tourists’ money can be a wind


of fresh air for Iceland. september east edition | una magazine | 31

If we are looking for search about

one which are so small anybody knows

other common tradiction, we can find

anybody from they were children. So,

Þorláksmessa´s day (December 23rd).

they think to each other like far relatives.

During that day Icelandics usually go to buy

Even go out in own village privacy is not

some present and also they meet together

a option, go to see a movies or to go in a

to eat the tipical meal Skata (Skata is

coffee shop, you would invariably bump

Iceland raw fish). They eat that type of

into someone you know. Person would

fish because that is the last day of fasting

give you a curious glance and then ask to

of Christmas and the tradition tells ´don´t

everyone you mutually know: “Are those

eat meat´. The most emphasized of this

two seeing each other?” So, an easy

fish is that it has to be eaten in putrefied

date suddenly you will feel more like an

condition. Because if isn´t do that, it can

engagement ceremony.

be dangerous. So you can imagine how this fish smells!

Gleðileg jól! Merry Christmas

Indeed, in Reykjavík the thing change a lot. Many youths usually in the weekend, move

If they asked us about another tradition,

in the bigger city nearer for hang out, but

we could speak about what they do in

still the options are limited compared to

Christmas day. This day is one of the most

big cities. In addition, the weather is often

important day on Iceland. The familiy

harsh and things are pretty expensive, so,

Do you know about Iceland’s Christmas? If

usually meet and go to cementeries to

some of youths decided to get drunk in

you are travelling in Iceland at Christmas,

remenber their dead relatives. They not

them houses and later they go out in their

you can’t see Santa Claus because there

only go and visit them, they also put

cars around Reykjavik streets looking for

are different Christmas culture. Learn

some adornments and lights, this used to

someone who meet or just they already

about Iceland’s christmas traditions here.

surprise to tourists.

know to get party with them. It seems

First of all, “Merry Christmas” in Icelandic

that, youths girls are friendlier than boys

means “Gleðileg jól!’

who are shyer until they get drunk. After drive a little bit, they go out from their

Christmas in Iceland is an interesting

cars in which they also have been drinking

experience as this country has many

beers, vodka…

old traditions for celebrating Christmas. Expect no fewer than 13 Icelandic Santa

In Icelandic as in many countries, they

Clauses! In Iceland, they are called

usually wait until last hours in the night,

(“Yuletide Lads”; singular: jólasveinn),

when everyone you know has gone home,

whose parents is Grýla and Leppalúdi as

or they are too drunk to care of you. They

you can see at the picture. Nowadays,

can getting hammered and then heading

during Christmas, theis their function is to

home with whoever happens to be

come to town bearing gifts and candy (and

standing next to you at closing time. It is

a prank or two). They usually go down to

widely understood that what happens at

12th of december and the last one arrives

Sweat hearts in a cold country

at the 24th, they give one present per day

The first though when I arrived to

after to figure out if you two really have

and when the 13 have gone down the 13

Stöðvarfjörður it was how people, in a

something in common and if the same

following days they are raising one to one

village of 200 souls, can get engaged each

thing happens again next weekend with

until January 6, which is the day that the

other. Speaking a bit around, they told us

the same person, you have yourself a

Christmas finished.

that simple they do not. In village like this


the town one by one, The first starts the

32 | una magazine | september east edition

the bar when everybody are drunk doesn’t really count. Leave it until the morning

On the other hand, that way it is not the

almost 400 people to 200 people. So, the

pay) but she want to be vegetarian,she can

unique way to meet people. There are a

economic crisis hit this village years before

not because of the money.

lot of apps to meet people who live near

the rest of country.

to you and perhaps, he or she is looking for the same thing that you are looking for. As we have said, everyone in Iceland knows everyone but anybody knows about who is going to be the person who are you going to fall in love with him. Despite of that, here lives many couples that one of them is from Iceland and the other from another

She doesn’t seem enthusiast about tourist, she thinks that in few years the impact of the tourist could be devastating and it will bring a lot of change, Iceland is not ready to host this number of people, that is growing every day. She is afraid that Iceland could lose his own identity.

country. People who come from another

Iceland considered a very expensive

country they usually arrived here because

country and because of that most of people

of scholarship, holidays or just because of

living in Reykjavik have to have more than

work, and they finally make the decision

one job, to can live in a better condition.

to stay in Iceland because they fall in love

If we speak about the countryside of this

with someone or they just fall in love with

awesome island we can see that is too

the landscapes.

different, maybe a house can cost around only 6000â‚Ź ! So the different between capital and countryside as we can see is colossal. When we asked her how can she met her husband or boyfriend she answered that

Icelander and Irish mixed

at the countryside is very difficult to met

How many people know about Iceland

anyone because you know everybody so

and Ireland? I stayed in Dublin so when I

she told us that her ex-husband was an

heard about Icelander and Irish mixed the

exchange student from the Czech republic

family, it was so curious to me. Iceland

and they met in a university party. We have

and Ireland is not far and both of those is

heard a lot about an app for the phone

island and especially Iceland is one of the

and we wanted to know if they usually use

greatest landscape in Europe, also they

to put in contact with other village people

are shrouded in mystery to other country

but she answered that it is not very usual

people. Therefore, I had an interest in the

to use it.

story about Icelander and Irish.

old, her family moved to here. She did not

We also asked for the food and we told

First, I heard the history to my friend from

have a job but she started a project 5 years

her that we heard that in this country is

Iceland. When I came to Iceland, He told

ago about recovering a dismissed fishing

very common to eat whale and shark, she

me about the story.

factory which the government wanted

answered that it is true but she was against

after this closed many years ago. Many

killing animals so she did not like eating

people were working when the factory

sharks even though whales. She also told

closed, it was disaster for everybody, a

us that she usually eat fish because there

lot of people lost their job, all the village

are free if you fish at the ocean (if you

completely changed face passing from

want to fish on rivers or lakes you have to

Introduce about interview Rosa Valtingojer is 32 years old in 1983. She is from Reykjavik but when she was 2 years

Irish has ginger. The color is typical feature of Irish also Icelander have the color. In the past, Icelandic was Viking who thought Irish girl is so beautiful then they want to marry with Irish girl. So, they was mixed. It was funny story so I was searching the september east edition | una magazine | 33

history that why they was mixed. At the beginning of the “Viking Age,” ca. AD 800, the Irish knew how to get to Iceland and back and some anchorites from there had spent considerable time in that empty country. There is no evidence of any permanent settlement, however, or family migration from Ireland to Iceland, nor did Irish strains of sheep or other farm animals survive in Iceland. It’s settlement was left to the Norse. In fact, Icelanders have about 60% Norse origins and rest is Scottish or Irish heritage. Because the Vikings would stop on their way to Iceland in Scotland and Ireland and take people hostage and transfer them to Iceland to use as slaves. Obviously with time, some ‘merge’ took place. This explains the fair complexion of Icelanders, with the majority of them having blonde or slightly ginger hair and blue eyes. Some people joke that this explains why the Icelandic men are strong and the women are beautiful, through the strong ‘survival of the fittest’ Viking genes and the beauty from Gaelic belles.

34 | una magazine | september east edition

From student to camp leader Arriving in Stöðvarfjörður we where

and I would like to learn how to be a good

really exited about the photographing

leader. For now I really like to do it. I also

and journalism work camp. Meeting local

like the nature; I would like to see the

people and other volunteers, interviewing

extreme animals like the puffin and the

them. The problem was that we couldn’t


find local people and there where no other

C: I was attracted by the surrealistic nature

volunteers. So we decided to interview the

and landscapes, but firs of all because

camp leaders. It turned out there stories

of the curiosity about the high level of

are quit interesting.

happiness of Icelandic people.

Can you tell us who you are, how old you

Before you came here what were you’re

are and where you’re from?

expectations about you’re project and

Marisol, 22, France, studying Cultural



M: I would like to meet people, explore

Felix, 20, France, studying Business school.

Iceland and to live in a community.

Péter Padányi, 34, Hungary, studied

F: Like I already sad, I expected to see new

Horticultural University and Food Industry.

landscapes. But also discover how to lead

After university I went to England for three

a group and to life in a community.

months, here I worked at the Red Cross

P: My expectation is that after all the

where I organized accommodation for

work camps I’ve improved myself on two

immigrants. Now I work in Malta at the

points. I hope my English will be better,

charity service centre. This is a shelter

that’s very important for me. Also it’s hard

for gypsy family’s, the homeless and drug

for me to step into a room full of people


and join their conversations. It would be

Cristina, 25, born in Moldova but I have

really amazing if I could improve myself

been living in Romania for 10 years now.

to cooperate better with people in big

I study psychology. Member of an ONG in

groups. And that in the future I can easier

the field of youth and involvement in the

connect to people.

life of the local communities, city IASI.

C: My general goal in the daily life is to enjoy the strange and beautiful adventure

Was it a specific choice for you to come

of life while inspiring other people to do

to Iceland?

the same thing; I thought this experience

M: I like the nature.

could offer me a chance to follow this line

F: I came to discover new landscapes like

with intensity.

the volcano’s, mountains, lake’s, geyser and meeting new people.

Why did you choose to be a camp leader

P: Firstly I would like to prove my English.

and stay here for a long term?

This is the first time I’m a leader of a group

M: I want to be impregnated by Icelandic september east edition | una magazine | 35

culture, meet new people and bring them

not in volunteering but training so I want

worried about that.

together, to see how people function by

to understand the difference.

F: I learned to manage the time, find

themself and how they connect to others.

activity’s when the weather is bad and

F: I always wanted to have the experience

How long have you already been here and

to adapt myself to the difficulty of the

of being a volunteer. But I also wanted

until when will you stay here?

weather in Iceland. Enjoy to the fullest

to have the time to discover the whole

M: From august 8th to september 27th.

and being with the amazing people from

country and have a long experience. So

F: I’m here from the 15th of august and I’ll

different countries. Iceland is a surprising

being a camp leader for worldwide friends

stay until the end of November.

country, because of the weather which

is the perfect alternative.

P: 30th of may until the 3th of December.

can change every five minutes.

P: I choose to be here on a long-term base

C: August 6th, till October.

P: I know for myself that I’m a bit shy, and

so that I have enough time to improve my

it’s really nice to notice that I’m getting


What did you learned so far?

less and less shy while being here. Also

C: Some of my friends have already been

M: We have to plan as soon as possible,

it’s cold often and the weather changes

here in the past years and I really wanted

always check the weather and organise

so quickly, like every hour. So it’s good to

to have the same experience. I need time

everything for cooking and cleaning.

always where warm clothes.

to understand a new place and to be more

For the last two things you have to try

C: So many things so far, the beautiful

connected with, that’s why I preferred

to be fair. People are very solidary; their

emptiness of Iceland, a lot of space

to come for a long time. I already had

philosophy is everything will be okay.

for emotions. Icelanders are free to be

similar experience in organization of

People are very relaxed, the volcano could


international projects with young people,

explode at any moment, but they are not

What would you like to active during

These are the volunteers from other workcamps we asked them about their

you’re stay here and being a camp leader?

(craziest) Iceland experience.

M: To know how human people function, to understand the universal characters, being more organized and manage the unexpected. F: Create the best atmosphere for my volunteers and to make sure that at the end of their camp they are happy about their experience. P: To organize an excursion so that the people do something together. C: When volunteers have great experience and they understand how much their

Javier Spain

Kae Japan

Name Turkey

To climb a

Lying down in the

I was alwas

Iceland, he life’s between Iceland and

montain in the

forest enjoying


Peru. We talked together and he made me

wrong way

beautifull nature

Nema France

Elodie France

Erol Turkey

Got drunk in

I didnt’t know it

I like to make

Reykjavik, love

was possible, so

new friends

Iceland and fixing

I did it

attitude is creating their own experience. What´s you’re craziest experience so far? M: Meeting a chamán in the North of

a ceremony. F: We walked about 10 hours to get to close to the artic line, also swimming in the sea of Iceland was crazy. P: Seeing a whale in the fjord, I saw the tail and the head. C: I lost my credit card in the fjord and a volunteer found it in the water after two days, I had to enter the water to fish the credit card out.


Hello around the world We are the volunteers of Stöðvarfjörður. In two weeks we met local people, other volunteers, took amazing pictures, saw the aurora and become friends. We put together our experience in one sentence.

Anne Spain

Ayame Japan

Leire Spain

JiWoo Korea

Marisol France

Traveling is the

At first,

If you walk

Go at least once

Take off your

only thing you

Iceland was an

alone you will

a year to a place

cultural glasses,

buy that makes

overseas travel

go faster, but if

you have never


you richer.

for me. It is the

you walk with

been before.


first of many

friends you will

contact lens


go farther.

and melt with

experiences for

people and

me to live in the



38 | una magazine | septembre east edition

Marta Spain

Manuel Italy

Caroline Holland

Carla Italy

Saya Japan

In this trip I’ve

Be stupid

Life in the

I looked up,

I can get good

found more


moment. The

I thought,

experience that

than a country

amazing, crazy

I reflected,

I didn’t have

because the

and fabulous

I admired,


people I’ve

group of

in a state of

met represent

people made


an important

every moment

I dreamt with

component of

of this trip

my eyes open.

this amazing


trip experience.

septembre east edition | una magazine | 39

colophon Redaction

campaigns in Iceland. We also send abroad Icelandic volunteers

Anne Benito, Ayame Shima, Carla Ciatto, Caroline Gersdorf,

who wish to have similar experiences. We are active in the

Leire Fernandez, Manual Merlin, Marisol Ramon, Marta Arrufat

Erasmus+ program.

Argilaguet, Saya Kuroda, JiWoo Kim

Our mission is to promote inter-cultural learning, exchange and

Design Caroline Gersdorf

awareness. Preserving Icelandic nature and raising awareness about environmental issues. Promoting voluntary work and a culture of volunteering. We aim at bringing people together and


give the opportunity to Icelanders and to foreigners to discover

Veraldarvinir – Worldwide Friends (WF Iceland) was founded in

each other.

2001 as a non-profit, non-governmental organization promoting peace, friendship and international understanding. We host short-term voluntary work camps, mid and long-term voluntary projects (3-8 months), seminars (suitable for both young people and adults), youth exchanges, educational programmes and

40 | una magazine | september east edition

The camp location Scoured by Ice Age glaciers, the dramatic east coast boasts long, narrow fjords with steep sides and jagged peaks which contrast with inland fertile farmlands. Natural harbours mean picturepostcard fishing villages and seemingly never-ending roads cross

the region, providing beautiful sweeping views.

has a thriving artistic life, and one of the most excellent centres for

“Fjarðabyggð” is an association of villages in the Eastern fjords

graphic arts in the country.

of Iceland. It includes the towns of Eskifjörður, Fáskrúðsfjörður,

The local community of Stöðvarfjörður has been working for

Mjóifjörður, Neskaupstaður, Reyðarfjörður and Stöðvarfjörður, all

years with Worldwide Friends, allowing people willing to share

tiny fishing villages with steep mountains towering just behind the

their time and their energy to get totally inmersed in the daily

houses. In this area you will see some of the features that make

building and improving of the community in every aspect : social

Iceland a unique place in the world: spectacular fjords with a rich

links, environmental maintainance and preservation, renovation,

sea life, a great variety of birdlife, and countless breathtaking hiking

gardening and decoration.

paths. You will explore the area during your stay in the east. The camp will take place in Stöðvarfjörður and the area around it. The settlement in stöðvarfjörður started about 100 years ago along the fjord of the same name. The fjord is short and open to easterly weather. Rare rocks and minerals have been found in the vicinity, and Petra Sveinsdóttir has specimens on display. Stöðvarfjörður

september east edition | una magazine | 41

made in Stöðvarfjörður

Profile for ramon.marisol

Magazine UNA, Maquette, Worldwide Friends, septembre 2015  

Conception et rédaction du magazine islandais UNA. Comité de rédaction : Anne Benito, Ayame Shima, Carla Ciatto, Caroline Gersdorf, Leire Fe...

Magazine UNA, Maquette, Worldwide Friends, septembre 2015  

Conception et rédaction du magazine islandais UNA. Comité de rédaction : Anne Benito, Ayame Shima, Carla Ciatto, Caroline Gersdorf, Leire Fe...


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