Iceland | Develop&raw
first day in iceland

Out of the cave, Bud, Mia, Shannon, Christina, Belinda (they caught up with us when the creek ate me alive), decided to go get the others. Jorge and I stayed to climb the steepest, muddiest hill ever. WORTH IT. I love run-down stuff and this hill, upon the top, had a run-down picket door! Upon the top, it also had an amazing view! This is one thing I really miss about Iceland, is the infinite horizon line everywhere you look. If your horizon line is impaired, it was usually with a commanding mountain that demanded a thorough gaze. (TAKE ME BACK).

Now that we have our beer, our snacks, Lear let Jorge use his shoelace as a belt, we can be off to the waterfalls. First waterfall up, Seljalandsfoss in Þórsmerkurvegur, Iceland.

Once we got within 30ft of the falls, we were instantly soaked. It was already sprinkling outside as it was, but the heavy mist radiating from the monumental giant of Seljalandsfoss drenched everyone instantly. Our squad was on the top of the muddiest hill kinda just chillen there. Some were talking, some were taking photos, some on their phones, it felt good to regroup. We took like 2 photos up there then wanted to venture behind the falls. 

Since the RV team, Driver Bud, Get’s-Carsick-So-Must-Always-Sit-Passenger Stephanie, DJ Jorge, and Never-Shuts-Up Me, were too massive to park near the falls, we  had to park toward the entrance and walked the main road to the falls. This was not an easy walk. I mean, the hike was easy, the distance was short, but being photographers, we wanted to stop and take pictures of everything. Soooo it took AT LEAST triple the length it should have taken to actually approach the falls. P.S. This walk proved to me that my adorable yellow boots were TOTALLY up for the job that would be required of them that day. 

OH MY GOSH WAS IT MAGICAL BEHIND THE FALLS! The water was rushing so rapidly from the mountain top to it’s shallow base that hugged the water as it hit. Simply mystical. It’s loud, like thunder. It’s crashing, like symbols. But in it’s witness, you can’t help but find peace. The width of the falls is grand which makes it so you can’t see what’s directly behind it. From behind the falls all you can see are the entrance and exit points. Everything is muddy, mossy and everyone is getting soaked. I have never seen people be so content with being muddy, cold, wet. The waterfall consumes you and creates this blanket of comfort that, regardless of the conditions, one can’t help but feel blessed and ecstatic. 

Check out these boots long and hard. They come into play quite a bit through-out the day.

I loved watching Jorge throughout all this. Every time I would look over at him, my heart would smile uncontrollably for oh so many reasons.

Now that we’re out from behind the falls, leader Bud informs us of a cave. LET’S GO! 

^ You can literally see my leg holes in the grass. The very misguiding grass.

We’re approaching the cave entrance and start joking about how Bonnie and Lear haven’t even left that initial hilltop. We realize it’s going to take forever for them to catch up with us. So after the cave, someone was going to grab them to show them the rest that Seljalandsfoss has to offer. 
To get to the waterfall hidden in the cave, one had to strategically rock jump to avoid the cold stream flowing out. Not me, I just trenched through it. Thanks to the creek, I was already use to the water :) 

THE CAVE’S WATERFALL IS A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FORM OF BEAUTY! When entering the cave you can hear the thunder and crashing of the falls. But once you’re right under it, the sound of mist popping is all you can hear. It’s like the volume was turned down. It’s indescribable. All I can assume is that the mist acts as a sound barrier to provide those willing to approach the base, utter tranquility. One can get right under it, look up towards the little bit of sky it exposes, and just let the heavy mist that falls, bounce off your cheeks, and run down your face. I stood there for awhile just looking up. There is just something so restful about witnessing a juxtaposition of heavy flowing water with feathering mist. 

So, quick story. I died in a creek. Like seriously, funniest thing ever! Ready for the story… Bud, Shannon, Mia, Jorge and myself are walking to the cave. Adjacent to the path we’re all walking, is a creek. A shallow creek. Grass with yellow flowers border this creek. I get this idea to take a picture of: my yellow (highly functional) boots in the grass with the yellow flowers and to have some of the creek flowing at the top of the image frame. I pictured some grass sprawling over my boots, the yellow flowers and my yellow boots popping some amazing color, and so on. The additional creek border is just a freaking bonus. So yeah, I stop to do this and BAM. I sink mid thigh on my right leg, and about up to my knee on my left leg. I AM DYING-LAUGHING! Like laughing hysterically. Jorge freaks out and rushes to help me. Actually everyone does. Except for Shannon, who is off to the side also dying-laughing. Jorge is freaking out like, freaking out, because he’s pulling and pulling, but it’s a no go. The suction was too intense. I eventually am freed and everyone kind of just looks at me. As if to wonder, “Is she going to cry? Is she miserable? Does she want to journey back to the RV to change?” I just ripped off my GORGEOUS yellow boots, dumped out the ridiculous amount of water I stole from the creek, take off my socks, slap back on my boots and carry on. I’M IN ICELAND FOR HEAVENS SAKE! I’m already soaking wet. So who cares!! Not me.
Below is a picture of the aftermath.

Hardest wake up ever… for Jorge. I popped up like a daisy. I shot up, cracked open my phone, and started answering emails. Prior to leaving I set-up my email with an automated response to state something like: Got your message. We’re in Iceland. Talk to you when I get back in office 07.25.16. BUT IT SO HARD FOR ME NOT TO RESPOND TO EMAILS! So I responded to those I could answer or assist away from home. I noticed we booked a January wedding that morning, felt so good! ;) Anyways, this was the only night we were staying at this airbnb. So once we got up and got dressed, we had to fully pack. Did that pretty quick, (and crappily). My outfit for the waterfalls that day included these adorable yellow rain/hiking boots with ribbon bowties in the back. I saw them online and fell in love! I was worried that they would be unrealistic for Iceland climate but I decided to give em’ a shot.
Dressed and ready to go, we headed downstairs for breakfast. This breakfast was bomb! Shout out to the chefs, Bud + Christina! We met Mia, (it was so hard not to call her Monster [after my sister Mia Monster]). She missed her flight the day before and came in that morning at 4am. She was our last and final member. We’re all here and accounted for at this point. After breakfast, my amazing hubby packed the Van with every one’s suitcases, and Bonnie and I did dishes. We rocked the ishhhh out of those dishes! (Shout out to Bonnie and our crazy convo we had over dish cleaning - it was such a random convo that I can only remember pieces of it).
AND WE’RE OFF! The game plan for today was to hit up a grocery store to buy snacks. It’s 11am and every place we went to, was closed. So the leaders decided, “Let’s just drive toward Vik,” the city where we would be staying overnight in a hostel, the Puffin Hostel to be exact, “and pull over when we see and open grocery store.” Done.

We drive for an hour, and find an open Bonus - their most popular grocery store. I strolled the aisles just looking at their marketing and packaging. Everything was so bright and animated! Very cartoony. 
Jorge was desperately looking for a belt, (yeah right good luck babe), and I kinda just wanted to find a beer. But only designated stores can sell beer so we had to walk over to get those kinda' goods. Saw some familiar faces in there; we all had the same idea! Random fact, Monopolies are legal in Iceland. For example, there’s only 1 milk distributor there, so milk in Iceland is ridiculously expensive!

After I literally skied down the hill, I tracked down Bud and Christina for keys. We needed Van keys for a change of clothes, and RV keys to actually change. We got them, and headed back. I BROUGHT TOWELS TO ICELAND! Thank goodness! On the way to the cars we really analyzed our equipment. At this point we have hiked for almost 3 hours in the rain, behind waterfalls, and even under waterfalls with our gear. We’re drenched and so is it. Thank goodness for weather proof casing! But with that said, our gear got the towels, not us.
Since we initially parked a mission away, we decided to bring the RV closer. That worked out for everyone! When regrouped, we loaded and were off to our new home for the next 2 nights, The Puffin Hostel in Vik. 

Upon arrival at the hostel, everyone unloaded themselves and their luggage, quietly and shoeless. This hostel had rules out the ying-yang. We did our best as crazy, free-spirited Americans to follow their rules.
Since everyone is starving, the leaders herd us together and take us to a restaurant at the top of Vik, Sudar Vik. The company was great, the food, not so much. Jorge and I sat at a table with Mia next to us, and Shannon, Bonnie, and Belinda across from us. WE LAUGHED LITERALLY THE WHOLE TIME! Listened while Mia spoke about her business and competitors. Got to hear how well- traveled Belinda is, and how she’s a film food photographer. Learned about Bonnie’s carefree, optimistic, and uplifting attitude. Found out that Shannon is moving from Boston to Monterey Bay (yay), and just how fun she truly is to be around. Then came the food. Looked great!! Looked delicious!! But Iceland sure kept to their trend; the food was bland. My white wine from Chile was amazing though!! Jorge got the same meal as me, so he wasn’t too satisfied. To drink, he got a Guinness. Upon his first sip, he thought it was good. Then his second he said wait, “It’s different.” I tried it and again, no carbonation. Then Bonnie tried it and said it tastes “watery.” We’re all laughing as we shovel down food that’s all texture, no taste. Apparently their curry was good though! From what I hear.

It’s now about 8pm when we head back to the hostel to grab our gear and take off to the next waterfall, Skógafoss.
This is one of the biggest waterfalls in all of Iceland - it’s about 85 feet wide and drops about 200 feet from the sky. There are 420 steps adjacent to the falls that take you right up to the top, where you can view the Skóga River. 

(Ola + Stephen were our rides there. Taking the RV for this short ride seemed a bit overkill. So we had the grand opportunity of accompany these two in their rental. We discussed many many topics - a death trail in Hawaii, drinking one's urine, hitch hikers, 1 laned bridges, owning a mountain, being latino, marrying a latino, and crazy kids). Jorge and I love these two people very much.

Instant comparisons are being made amongst the waterfalls. We thought the other waterfalls got us wet. No, this waterfall got us wet. We thought the other waterfalls were loud. No, this waterfall was loud. Again, the difference between the waterfalls were apparent: Seljalandsfoss was a beautiful giant, the cave waterfall was tranquil, and this waterfall is simply intimidating! When approaching the base, you’re getting sprayed in the face with sharp water and harsh winds. The sound is as if the earth is cracking in two to make way for this monster. You really have to decide several factors when approaching the base. These factors will determine how close you will get: 1) how wet do I want to get, 2) how much wind can I withstand, 3) what’s close enough to have experienced it, lived, and got a great shot!? 

After some photos at the mouth of the beast, we hit the stairs. All 420 steps. My butt, thighs, calves were all a-burnin’.

Me helping Christina (by holding her camera and attempting to shield it from the rain) as she changed her full film roll to a new roll. I watched in amazement as she did it so quickly. I loved hearing the roll catch once she shut the back and triggered!

At the very top was this barb-wired fence with a ladder over it. The fence, according to what I could make of the sign, was to keep dogs out…? So, we took the ladder over the fence and got to the the river. Oh man this river. Oh man. You don’t know how fast a river can truly flow, until you witness one that leads to a 200 foot drop! Jorge climbed down this steep hill to get down to the river. I could have killed him. I was freaking out! Then when I saw he survived, I went down and freaked him out :) #love.

Can you find Mia in either of these 2 images? (The above and the below).

The top was so vast that everyone kind of went there own way. Bonnie and Stephanie did a shoot down by the river. Christina called home. Bud, Belinda, and Mia went to look for sheep (and the found some). Jorge went to see what was beyond our vantage point. And I just sat. Where I sat, and what rushed through my mind brought me to tears. I did, I cried. Jorge found me sitting there crying and was like, “WHAT THE HECK?!” I DESPERATELY needed to pee, so I said, “Let’s make the journey down, and we can talk about it… cuz’ I need to pee.” We talk about our upcoming marriage, this magical place, our future, our feelings and just hug. He’s a great man, he really is. When peeing, I run into Belinda. Don’t know how I ran into her. Last I saw her she was up 420 steps high, a mission away, chasing sheep!! Any who, everyones standing by the van waiting for Lear and Bonnie (our adventurous mother/son team that’s always missing in action), so we could take off.

We get back to the hostel, soaking wet, exhausted, and ready to take warm shower around 2am. As we are getting ready to go downstairs to shower, I see 3 naked people, 2 guys & 1 girl, coming upstairs, not caring. Ummm, okay. Jorge at this time was laying out all of our wet clothes flat to dry, lucky him. 

Prior to going downstairs, Jorge and I look in our room for towels and come up empty handed. So we assume there’s towels in the bathrooms downstairs. Nope. Okay fine no towels, whatever. We just need a warm shower. Yeah, no. So those naked people that burned my pupils, they stole our warm water. So cold shower, with no towels, no problem. Let’s just get-er' done and head to bed!! 
Our room had a bunk bed. Again, not a problem. I called bottom. Jorge said, “No no noo. We’re sleeping together.” YAY! We KO’d together on the bottom bunk. It was heavenly. A great, unique ending to the most sensationally stunning day of my entire life!

..... at this point anyways!