And my Icelandic teacher said Icelanders weren’t polite... some of the traditions here are more sacred than anything I’ve seen in the States. For example, when you see someone you know the first time in the new year, you must greet them with a “gleðilegt ár”, thank them for last year, and if it’s a woman, give them a kiss. This applies even if the man is your boss- mine made the rounds yesterday with cheek-kisses for all. I’m sure this sounds strange to American readers (and before I came here it would have sounded creepy) but I assure you, it is not at all.
Anyway... back to the new year here. The signs that said “Gleðileg Jól” have changed the lights on the end so they now say “Gleðilegt ár” in some kind of neon trickery. One well-decorated house that we drove by at 11:30pm on Saturday said “2005” in white lights on the roof now says “2006”. The leftover fireworks have continued to punctuate the evenings, in spite of the cloudiness. Sometimes they’re going off before it is completely dark, which I fail to comprehend. I mean, I know it’s hard to get a really dark hour when 80% of the day is pitch black and all. I guess some of these people must get a wee bit creative with the fireworks too, since J went to mail some letters yesterday, only to discover that the mailboxes have been locked shut until the mania is over this weekend.
At work I have started off the new year with a new location too. We had a new guy start yesterday so we had a rearranging afternoon on Monday and now I am sitting next to the window. After spending 3 years working in a dim and windowless room, I can’t get enough of it, even if it’s dark so often it might as well be windowless for the most part. When the sun does rise, I can see the hills of Garðabær and the top of the Garðabær tower (and the cult church next door and their brand-new parking lot). If J were on the opposite side of his building, we’d almost be able to do up a string-n-cups intercom system. That’d be cool.
Ship sighting: Things are starting to pick up on the water after the ol’ holiday lull. Engey RE1 is slated for depature today, although I am not sure how much I can count on that, since Víkingur, reported to leave a few days ago, is still high and dry (first time I’ve used that literally). We’ve also had a resurgence of bigger tankers and cargo ships, like Stella Azzurra, which I saw heading in last night. It’s also the name of an Italian bicycle company, as well as many soccer teams, so finding a photo was not as easy as usual. Still, if you want to know its TPC immersion at summer draft, you can read all about it here. The website is a consolidated list of tankers owned by several companies, under the name “handy tankers”. Can’t say I’ve ever thought of tankers as being “handy” but there you go.
There are also a bunch of interesting-sounding cargo ships in the daily lineup here in the harbor, like the IVS Kestrel, listed on a South African company website, but with a Panamanian flag. The company website has a nifty vessel positions part, where you can see the recent ports of call for their ships. These boats are going to all kinds of strange and exciting places, including Flushing NY.
And finally, if you still haven’t got enough boat information, and are turning into a real ship-spotting fan, I have found the ultimate website. The best part is the photos, like these top 50 (check out the waves, the dumping of containers! Such thrills!). For more of a local (to me, at least) experience, check out this Icelandic captain’s website, with categorized photos of all the different kinds of ships that come to Iceland, going back 10 years. This guy is thorough! I want him to be my new friend.