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Farewell to Iceland

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This picture story was submitted by Helen Mason of Caledon 

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My last day in Iceland was very emotional. A day on Heimaey Island. Thanks to the experience and competence of the captain our small cruise ship docked in the tiny harbour.

With a small group and a local guide, we hiked to the top of the volcanic crater. This hike was much less strenuous than the one to Dynjandi waterfall but much steeper.

This volcano, after being dormant for some 5000 years, erupted without warning in January 1973. The eruption began in the middle of the night and the first alarm was said to have come from a mother who was awake, feeding her baby.

You can see how close the lava got to the old Viking church, close to the harbour. The new street sign is a memorial to the street with the same name which is now buried 30 feet below.

In the picture of our guide, by the ruined foundations of over 400 houses that were destroyed, he is pointing out where his father’s bedroom was.

Would you believe that there is some good news within this tragedy? The fishing fleet had not gone out that night due to a storm at sea so the whole town was evacuated successfully with only one casualty.

The authorities in Reykjavik immediately sent ships which pumped sea water up the mountain side and managed to stop the lava flow. A modern museum located above the rebuilt town tells the story of that eruption.

On our way out of the harbour, the captain did a 360° turn so that we could all enjoy the amazing scenery without moving our glasses of wine!

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