Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Sad Truth About Jökulsárlón

Tourist sites are never as glorious as they are commonly depicted, and I knew that very well going into my day at Jökulsárlón, or the Glacier Lagoon, in Iceland. Surely, the glaciers would not be as bright and blue as in the photos, the seals wouldn't be twirling through the water, and the sun would not be shining. This held true at Jökulsárlón, but for a different reason.

The glaciers have mostly melted away.

Compared with the photos I had seen of these magnificent blocks of ice, the glaciers were quite tiny and sparse. The sun did shine, but that only seemed to melt them even further into the lagoon. People dream of seeing glaciers flip and break apart, but under these circumstances, the glacial majesties just shrink even further. Case in point: this video I took, below.

I don't like getting political on here, but I'm not trying to make any sort of statement other than global warming is very, very real. It's one thing to hear about it on the news, or read about the greenhouse effect in a textbook, but actually seeing it? It left me speechless, and not in the good way.

Additionally, while on our boat tour, the guides took a block of ice that's 1,000 years old, passed it around, and axed it up for us to taste. Of course, I obliged, but I felt a sense of guilt at the same time--as if I were taking a baby away from its mother, as odd of a comparison as that sounds. That ice will likely never be part of the glaciers again, and when broken up into smaller pieces, it will melt even more quickly.

Did I have an enjoyable time at the Glacier Lagoon? Yes. And quite frankly, I feel a bit bad that I'm droning on about such a serious topic on this lighthearted blog of mine, but there is no other way I can describe my impressions from that day.

But let's look on the positive side, no? That day filled me with wonder, adventure, and a childlike curiosity as we made our way along the southern coast of Iceland.

I visited the mighty but humble Skógafoss waterfall...

...wandered through the rocky, black-sand beaches of Vik, juxtaposed against a lush green landscape...

...sat on the Diamond Beach, named for the glacial remnants washed up on the black sand, just a short walk away from Jökulsárlón...

...and even trekked behind the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, marveling at its power and force.

So, did Jökulsárlón disappoint me? Yes, but it wasn't it's fault--rather, I'd argue that it is our own. Regardless, I'm glad I went, because who knows how much longer it will be a glacial lagoon?

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