Sunday, March 21, 2010

Iceland Review Pt 3 -- Holy Smokes!

(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.


  1. How frightening! But it appears from your post - and the BBC news posting - that the Icelanders who were evacuated are quite "okay" with it - because they have an emergency plan in place!

    I really liked this post: it says so much about the people who live there that they don't trust their government to help. They're angry at those who left them in such a financial ruin, but just get on with things instead.

    It certainly angers me when I read here about people doing things like snowmobiling or skiing out of bounds or jumping off cliffs into raging rivers and then complaining that there weren't enough warning signs, or they chose to ignore the warnings and boundaries, etc. "Someone should have done something (sooner)," they or their loved ones say. Yes, YOU should have. YOU should not have gone where you were not supposed to.

    Same with people blaming banks for getting them into debt: no bank held a gun to your head and said spend or die. You chose to spend and spend and spend and not pay it back.

    Oh dear, listen to me! Sorry MW, I'm getting carried away here. I guess I'm partially so worked up because I know I can be far more self-sufficient, but I too have become a 'victim' of too much care by government. I've got to work on that! Thank you for posting this.

  2. It's great to know that there are people who actually have some common sense & understand they need to be responsible for themselves. Too many people in this country believe the government "should" take care of them when they're out of work, hurt, too old to work, or whatever the reason is and wait for a hand-out. I’m not saying there aren’t any people who really do need help but too many other people take advantage of the programs set up.

  3. I suppose you have to be tough and self reliant to live there, in more senses of the word.
    When I heard about the volcano the first thing I thought about was how 'lucky' you were to have timed your visit earlier and not later.

  4. I meant to say 'when I heard about the volcano erupting on ours news'

  5. Hi Northern Living Allowance!

    I would be proud to be an Icelander. They are strong inside and out and have integrity.

    D and I go crazy reading about the snowmobilers too. What do they expect was going to happen!?

    Hi Sandra!

    Yes, isn't it? I do think a lot of people in developed nations have become a bit "soft".

    I agree there are legitamate people who have run into serious difficulties who require help.

    How do you prevent people who fall in the "don't really need help" group from signing up for help?

    You can't. It is up to the individual's conscience.

    Hi Cathy!

    Yes, my group and I timed it well. That was one of the first things I thought -- was the time difference and if there would be any groups who would be there.

    Luckily it was still dark though it would be harder to move families out in the dark. There aren't street lights!