Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Africa-Europe 2015 Day 6. My last day in Iceland

I am at the Keflavik airport, waiting for my flight to Paris, and have just received the bad news that the flight is delayed and will not depart at 16:15 as planned, but at 19:00 instead. That means that I will be landing in Paris CDG a little after midnight. Pobrecitos Geraldine and Nicolas, who kindly offered to pick me up at the airport L

Yesterday I forgot to mention that, while munching on a piece of fish jerky I pulled a bit too hard and broke the crown on one of my incisors (actually, I broke the tooth post on which the crown rested, but I was not going to know that until later). Since yesterday was Sunday I had no chance to do anything about it. Today Monday (June 15, 2015), however, I made it a point to be at the door of the local dentist by 8:30 am. There was a person already there for an 8:30 am appointment, but the doctor told me he could see me at 9 am. I waited and was called at 9:00 sharp. I showed the crown to the doctor, who immediately tut-tutted, and after a brief examination explained that the tooth had broken, and that the nerve was now exposed (and yes, I had noticed the little flesh-colored spot in the center of the tooth). So, he promptly anesthetized me, did a root canal, inserted a thin post where the root had been, drilled a hole in the crown for the post, and proceeded to cement the crown in place. He warned me that this was a temporary fix, and that my own dentist would have to decide what to do later when I get to Mexico. He also suggested that I be very careful with that tooth, and use it mostly for smiling rather than tearing fish jerky. The final tab? $200 for half hour of work, which I think is extremely reasonable. Health care is the one thing that doesn’t seem to be wildly expensive in Iceland.  

Still with a numb upper lip I walked to the local attraction: The Settlement Exhibition and the Saga Exhibition. Both are actually related, because the settlement story is based 25% on archaeological research and 75% on the medieval saga, or tale, of the arrival of the Nordsmen to Iceland. It seems that during the middle ages, from about 1100 to 1250 AD, there was an explosion in the number of written documents describing the events that had transpired since 870 AD, the genealogies of the different chieftains, the Norse gods, and the legends of trolls, magicians, and witches that inhabit the fjords and mountains of Iceland. I must confess that I knew nothing about this extraordinary literary output, and had to shed a tear at not being able to bring with me the very fat tome on Icelandic Sagas that was for sale at the gift shop of the exhibitions.

The Settlement Exhibition went basically through the same early history I described in Day 2, so I don’t need to repeat it here. The Saga they chose to tell about was about this kid, who got into all sorts of troubles when he was young, picking fights and cheating in the market place. Not surprisingly he grew up to be a trouble maker, and ended killing a man. According to legend he became a very old man, crabby and distrustful of all, who at the end packed all his silver in two small coffers, and accompanied by his two servants went to bury them in the glen. According to the legend he came back alone, so folks are sure he killed the two servants and buried them with his treasure. The treasure has never been found, so here is a chance for anyone to get rich!

To conclude this leg of the blog I want to say something about the Icelanders, who may have originated as pillaging hordes, but who in the 21st century are as delightful a people as anyone could ask for. Genetic research has shown that men have a dominant Nordic genetic pool, but women show a much more varied genetic pool, showing that pillaging of women folk by the Viking men brought enough variation to make the modern Icelandic people a pleasant mixture of blond and brunette, tall and short, attractive and homely. One feature that totally fascinates me is that all of them are perfectly bilingual. They can switch between Icelandic and English right after they say good morning, and you never feel like a dumb foreigner. They are very helpful and service oriented, and as my experience with the dentist show they can be relied upon in an emergency. I would totally recommend to those coming from the US to Europe to consider flying with Icelandair, and to take advantage of their offer of a free stopover for up to 7 days in their beautiful country.

Well, what do you know? They have just announced that because the Paris flight is delayed we can go and pick up a voucher for some food. I think I will try their lobster pizza ($25) and a beer ($8).

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