The Reykjavik Visitors Welcoming Committee

Iceland has been on my mind a lot lately.  I have long been obsessed with the island but have only been able to visit it once so far.  That visit, in 2013, left a deep impression on me I doubt will ever be diminished. 

So it pains me to see the nation in the news lately, as seismic activity suggests a new volcanic eruption could be eminent.  This prompted me to recall many events from that vacation.  I have an odd story I would like to share here, concerning something that happened when we first arrived there on that trip. 

Like the majority of international airports, Reykjavik’s is some distance away from the metropolitan area.  In fact, it is actually in Keflavik, roughly 30 miles to the south and west.

The road between the two cities hews closely to the west coast of the island.  So, as the shuttle bus from the airport heads northeast, those on the driver’s side of the bus see the Arctic Ocean in the distance.  That’s the side my wife was sitting on.  I was on the opposite side, watching the landscape gradually change from desolation to sporadic shops and businesses, then to more densely populated areas, until finally becoming a full-blown city.

Just as aside, when I say “desolation”, this was really quite deeply beautiful to me.  At the same time, I realize the view would not have been to everybody’s taste.  Except for there being a sky overhead, I imagined the landscape was closest one could come to the experience of being on the moon without actually going there. 

Something caught my eye as we were passing the first area with a significant number of multi-story buildings.  In my memory, this particular building was roughly six stories high and appeared to be an apartment building.  I estimate it was somewhere between 50 to 100 yards from the road, given I had enough time to notice something peculiar, but barely enough time for me to make sure I wasn’t seeing things.

There was only enough time for briefest of double-takes for me to confirm what I had seen: a man facing us from behind a floor-to-ceiling window.  He had a stern expression, and was standing legs-splayed, with the arms how they would be if would was standing akimbo, but with arms straight out instead of bent at the elbows.

I should also mention he was completely stark naked.

Now, I hadn’t slept in roughly 24 hours at this point, between the long flights and a nine-hour layover in Toronto.  I deeply envy people who can just sleep anywhere and in any positions, as I am one of those people who can only sleep lying down in a bed in a dark room.

So I chalked this up to sleep deprivation.  After a few seconds, the guy in front of me called out to his girlfriend on the other side of the aisle and said, “Hey, did you see a naked guy in a window back there?”

I doubt this was a shared hallucination, so the angry looking naked guy must have been real.  Also, I have to admit this guy was pretty well-hung since I could so clearly see from that distance his junk dangling between his splayed legs.

I like to this guy gets up each day and spends some time at his window like that.  It’s as if he is some sort of perverted one man visitor’s welcoming committee.  “Welcome to Iceland!  Behold my giant schlong!”

The only way I can think of to find out for certain is if we could get back there.  We attempted to do that in 2000, before COVID cancelled our flight.  Let this be a lesson to travelers: the extra expense for flight insurance is worth it.

I want to go back there for a great many reasons.  Some of those are to see things we didn’t get to on the first trip.  At the same time, I know we’ll revisit many of the sights we did hit on that initial vacation.  I just want to state for the record that, while it would be bemusing to see if that guy is at his window again, it won’t exactly be the high point of such a trip.