I often hear "it sounds cold there!" or am asked "is it covered in ice and snow?" by my American friends and family. The answer is, well, yes and no. It's just as cold as many other places (certainly not the coldest place I've lived - Finland still takes that award) and where I'm living there is actually less snow than you might expect, and it's rare for snow to last all months of the winter season like it does in many other parts of the Nordic countries.
As you may know, Iceland is called the land of fire and ice. The reason for this is that it is known for its snowy highlands and glaciers, but underneath the ground Iceland has an abundance of geysers, hot springs, and volcanos.
Iceland has a population of around 320,000 people and has a total area of 103,000 square kilometers (40,000 square miles). This makes it the most sparsely populated country in all of Europe. I guess I'm one of very few who get to say that they live in Iceland :)
|Iceland's Place on the World Map|
I'm NOT living in Reykjavik. In fact, I'm not living anywhere close to Reykjavik. When non-Icelanders learn that I'm living in Höfn, they usually aren't quite sure how to react. Icelanders' first response is "why on earth did you move to Höfn?" or something to that respect. I guess it's a strange phenomenon, and I get the feeling that they are nervous on how to proceed.. they try and feel whether me living in Höfn is a positive or negative thing because to them, it's difficult to imagine.
Honestly, it's not all that bad here. It's actually quite good. Yes, I miss having more things to do, more and different places to walk and explore, public transportation that can easily and quickly take me where I need to go, more stores, and well, just more diversity in all aspects. For me, the most difficult part is feeling so disconnected by not living near a major airport. I like the thought of being able to hop on an airplane without any great difficulty or major expense in case I need/want to fly home, to a meeting, or go on vacation. Living in such a rural community makes all that much more difficult to achieve, and this is something that is important to me and something that I learned while living in Flagstaff. Also, the everybody knowing everybody thing.. that's just not my thing. I prefer to shop among strangers :)
However, there are several good aspects to living in such a community. I feel very safe here because everybody knows everybody. Life is at a much slower pace and there is so little noise that you can hear the ocean waves crashing in the distance and sometimes the sound of the wind is the only thing you hear - very little sound from cars, no people yelling in the streets, or the sound of trains, trams, and busses. And because there are so few people, people are generally very friendly and welcoming of new people - even foreigners who make them speak English. And, to my surprise, there are actually events to keep people entertained. Sure they may not be as grand as what's offered in large cities, but you are among friends at these events and can always find someone to talk to..
So where is Höfn? It's located at 64 degrees north (as reference, Fairbanks, Alaska also falls on this line of latitude). Höfn is a small town with a population of about 1,700 and is the second largest town in the southeastern part of Iceland. The name Höfn means port or harbor, and the fishing port here is of great importance to the local economy since fishing and tourism are the two main economic activities. The main fish that are caught and processed here are bacaloa and lobster (yum!). Also, Höfn is surrounded by water on three sides - something that I am truly enjoying!
|There's Höfn.. right by that big glacier.|