Day 4 of the Shenzhen conquest began with a 30 minute drive to the ferry terminal that would transport us to the island of Heimaey. On arrival, we passed through a natural harbor, created from volcanic eruptions both 13,000 years ago as well as only 42 years ago, with the last eruption being in 1973, a great juxtaposition of past and present. We began to make our ascent to the volcano of Eldfell. Near the base, we stopped, sat and listened as the Field Study Tutor told us about the history, geography and geology of the island. Amazed that what we were sitting on, high above the village, was the newest part of the island and only created in the span of 3 weeks as the volcano spewed ash and tephra at the rate of 150,000 tons per second.
Students were questioned about the human-environment interactions that took place on the island, allowing some of them to take mental notes for their Week Without Walls Geography selective unit. We then stood, and faced the beast before us. Armed with only our lunch bags and determination we reached the summit, where we took lunch. Luxuriating in the sunshine, we were warmed by the geothermal energy below our bodies. The spectacular view across the deep blue sea towards the snow covered summits of Eyjafjallajokull, Katla and Hekla with the backdrop of Myrdalsjokull glinting in the sunshine will be my mental desktop image of Iceland.
Descending the volcano we made our way to the other side of the Heimaey town to, what our FST calls, the best swimming pool in all of Iceland. Here some students enjoyed very modern slides from which one is ejected to land on a trampoline, and bounced into the water below. All wet bodies exited with smiles on their faces. After a quick dip in the pool, we walked back to he harbor and joined the Viking tour boat, (not a longship!), that circumnavigated the island, giving us a chance to spot puffins, as this is the beginning of their mating season, among many other birds, including kittiwakes and fulmars, that come to the island this time of year. Pulling back in to the harbor, students had about an hour free time to walk around the quaint village before we boarded our ferry back to the mainland.