(The timing of this post and this link Lizzie sent is scary and hits close to home... I had no idea when I wrote this post -- some of the pictures I posted were from there...)
The first thing my guide said to us was that there were 4 volcano alerts today and they can go off at anytime. The lot of us thought he was joking -- he wasn't. He went on to tell us that Iceland gets on average 3000 earthquakes a month.
One passenger asked if the government had a rescue plan in place for everyone -- he laughed. He said that people have 15 minutes to evacuate when a volcano or earthquake occurs and that families have an evacuation plan in place and practice it.
No one counts on someone coming for them right away. People are completely responsible for their own safety. Icelanders can come across hard as nails. Most if not all of the interior roads in Iceland over the winter are not passable and those who venture or live in such terrain have vehicles that can cross rivers without stalling.
These "Super Jeeps" can cost upwards of $200000 - $300000 and are fitted with 50 plus inch tires and sophisticated GPS systems. Iceland is one of the last countries where people believe in taking full responsibility for their actions. If you are going outside of the cities, it is your responsibility to be able to handle yourself appropriately.
You cannot blame others or the government for what happens to you. They believe as soon as a government steps in and enacts rules in the effort to "keep people safe", they are in fact making people into victims instead of empowering them.
We were told that if one wanted to die, it is very easy to do it there. You are not going to find warning signs, directions nor solid barriers. Should you fall in the mid Atlantic ridge, for example, people would say that was too bad. The waters blowing out of geysers are over 250 degrees Celsius and if you stand in the wrong side of it, you'll get second degree burns.
The reason so many Icelanders are upset about the collapse of their economy is because the ones who have leveraged the country and fled have acted in a very non Icelandic way. They ought to own up to it, take responsibility and face their people.
And those who bought into the need to live beyond their means? They will pay for their actions for what may be a long time. The owner of my apartment told me that is why they have made the apartment available to renters -- so they can pay for their mortgage.
I heard no whining or complaints about it. They are doing what they need to do and they are confident with hard work, it will all work out.
My thoughts are with the Icelanders today. If there are any group of people who are capable of getting themselves out safely, they are. I'd put my money on them. Thanks for letting me know Lizzie.