Opportunities Abroad

We left the Westfjords before we explored enough of its craggy fjord fingers, and headed north and a little bit east up to Trollaskagi, the Troll Peninsula.

Bundle up

Iceland is rife with trolls. They are hard to spot because they only come out at night, but they are out there.

Note: if a troll chases you, don’t run because you won’t be fast enough. Stop and drop your pants instead. Trolls hate human genitals. Just FYI.

For those that don’t know: the difference between trolls and ogres is that ogres are ALWAYS ugly and malicious, while some trolls are beautiful and nice. Occasionally trolls are also giants. Ogres are never giants. I did some research: In Norse mythology the line between ogre and troll is clear, but the line between giant and troll is blurry.  I’d wager that it has something to do with height.

It’s possible for trolls (and giants!) to have more than one head, and once in a while, a troll will overcome his/her instinctual fear of human genitals, copulate with human and produce half-troll offspring. This would NEVER happen with an ogre, not because they, too, have an instinctual fear of human genitalia, but because their malice is too perpetual to sustain an interspecies relationship.

In the Icelandic Saga, “The Prose Edda”, Freyer, one of the minor Norse gods, fell in lust with a giantess named Gerthir, and together they had a son they called Fjolner.  See? It happens.

Giant-loving Freyer, also had a sexual relationship with his sister Freyja, so he might not be the shining light troll fans should look to for inspiration. Actually, his mother is also his aunt— incest runs in the family.

Freyer is often associated with peace and pleasure

Family history aside, Fjolner turned out alright: he grew up to be a generous king. He died after slipping and falling into an enormous vat of ale, but there are worse endings.

At any rate, all trolls (not giants) need to hide during the day because sunlight turns them into stone. Far too many trolls have stayed out too late and gotten zapped by an early morning sunbeam—we have seen countless lumpy stones standing forlornly in fields and beaches. By the shape of those rocks, I can definitely confirm that some of the trolls had multiple heads.

Tunnel

We haven’t spotted trolls yet this week even though I have kept my pants on. We’re following a patch of bad weather and it’s mostly spitting rain and shoves of wind and blindfolds of fog. I was prepared for “The Land of the Midnight Sun”, not 24 hours a day of February. Where IS the Land of the Midnight Sun? Book me a ticket.

I keep thinking, “I bet this place is amazing in the summer”, then I remember that it’s July.

Whenever I travel, I imagine what my life would be like if I lived in each place. What would my job be? What flowers could I plant in my in my yard? Where would I buy groceries? Where is the nearest tennis court? Where would I put my horse? Or more realistically, how many horses could I have?

Iceland has room for me to have LOTS of horses. I could definitely live here if someone would up the thermostat ten degrees.  But I’d need a job.

Not a real troll

Here’s what I have considered:

  1. Not for me, but an obvious choice for someone else would be fishing: fishing related jobs make up about 20% of Iceland’s labor force. We visited the Herring Era Museum in Sigulfjiordur (It was actually REALLY COOL) and saw pictures from the 1960s when Iceland’s herring industry was booming like the Alaskan Goldrush.  Workers stood knee-deep in herring all day long, but in the photos they were smiling because they were making good money for their families. I told my kids, “I’d stand in herring for you, but I wouldn’t smile about it.”
  1. We also visited the Seal Museum, which had earnest intentions, but smelled like seal, and lacked the verve of the Herring museum. For an entrance fee of $8.00, The Seal Museum offered stuffed seals of various sizes, old seal skins, a retired heavy wooden seal hunting boat, and loads of information about current seal research. One display outlined traditional seal hunting methods. I only remember two: clubbing and shooting. Hunting seals with a shotgun was banned at one point because the guns were so loud that they scared the seals away, but  clubbing…wasn’t. Clubbing was fine because it was relatively quiet.  

When I Google “seal hunting in Iceland”, I get mixed messages.  Google offers links concerning worrisome declining seal populations, along with links from outfitters selling mutli-day Icelandic seal-hunting safaris (with guns not clubs). Regardless, I don’t see myself with a future in the seal industry.

  1. I like to garden more than to fish or hunt (didja notice?), so maybe I can be a farmer when I move to Iceland.  Iceland’s National Gardening School built a huge greenhouse over some hot springs and VOILA: Bananatown. I wouldn’t mind working in a greenhouse; but then I remember that the Cavendish, the most popular kind of banana in the world, will be extinct in ten years? Google it. When I’m talking about a career, I need to think more long term.
  1. How about working for the company Genis, located in a swank modern building on the harbor in Sigulfjiordur?  From what I can tell, Genis is a biotech company that makes health care products derived from chitins, which comes from the exoskeletons of things like shrimp.  Genis is “pioneering the development of therapeutic chitin derivatives”. A career at Genis sounds intriguingly Tony Stark-ish, and I’d like to tell you more, but I just don’t understand, which probably means I am not qualified to apply.
I suppose I could harvest seaweed.
  1. The man who led our folklore walking tour in Reykjavik has a friend who can communicate with elves and “hidden people” (inter-dimensional humanoids known as huldufólk).  She works as an intermediary for humans who have questions about where to build their house or business park or whathaveyou. I can see myself doing that job, although I’m afraid it may require some innate abilities that haven’t surfaced yet, and I don’t really want to go back to school at my age.
  1. Iceland’s tourist industry is booming, so I see lots of job options in that field. But the guy at the SAD Car desk was so busy that he was grumpy, and the girls taking tickets at the museums we’ve visited have been bored and insouciant behind their masks.  Except for the girl at the Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft, she was cheerful as she gave us our tickets and downright jovial as she served our steaming bowls of “Sorcerers Lamb Soup”. Granted, she was probably enchanted, and didn’t realize she was performing menial labor, but it was definitely working for her.  I’d work at a museum and take tickets and serve soup at a witchcraft museum, if I could get enchanted into cheerfulness. Something to think about.

What would be your job in Iceland?

I’d want more than one of these.

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