Iceland - Horses, Scouts, and Lots of Hiking

Iceland has really been the foundation of my whole 3 month trip, and my gosh it didn't disappoint! The landscapes are breathtaking, the people are charming and the weather was spectacular. I hope you're sitting comfortably, because this is going to be a big one!

From the moment we jumped on the bus from Keflavik airport I was absolutely spellbound by the otherworldly landscapes and plant life. The lava fields sprawl almost to the horizon until you tumble into the city of Reykjavik. We learned that the lack of vegetation was due to the comparative youthfulness of the top layer of  rocks and soil after they were thrown out of various volcanoes. The first vegetation that can settle is moss, so that's all you'll see!

The next morning at some inhumane hour we were up and out into the wilderness to see more of the scenery from the bouncy backs of some icelandic horses! Icelandic horses are one of the only breeds in the world to include a pace called the tolt in their repertoire and it definitely is the smoothest gait I've felt... if you can convince the horse to stay there and not trot! 

Unfortunately we had our patch of not so great weather that day, and visibility wasn't.... well wans't really visible.

In spite of that the bits we did see were delightful and we wandered up a huge hill past geothermal springs and on to a geothermal river where we wallowed for a while before wandering back down.

When we staggered back onto the bus after 6 hours in the saddle we felt a new found affinity to the characters in fantasy books who've spent a whole day riding and walk bow legged into an inn.

Which is pretty much what we did, but with the divine hot pools where we soaked until dinner time. Dinner was wonderful as we finally met up with the rest of the kiwis who had come over for the Moot. Many laughs were had and the food was splendid.

Finally, the moot began!

I met up with my wonderful patrol from around the world and we hopped on a bus to Hafnarfjordur, our home for the next 5 days.

Day one started with walks though some interesting geothermal areas, chatting with all our new friends, and marvelling at the striking scenery.

My hilarious patrol, from Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and Mexico (not in this photo... or many of my photos really, they kept to themselves most of the time).

The antics continued upon retur to sight, especially when we all started getting to know each other a bit better!

The next day was community service in the morning, followed by a walking tour of the city. I love that Scouting tries so hard to ensure that events have a positive impact on the community that hosts them! Our project was some beach front cleaning up and beautifying. I think we did a pretty good job!

Pretty sure that minions are based on Icelandic fire hydrants.... 

And after a big day of hot work and walking - massive ice creams! This one is the smallest size they sell! 

Our final full day at Hafnarfjordur was dedicated to.... you guessed it, HIKING. We had a full day hike through the lava fields, up some amazing hills, and into some awe inspiring lava caves. 

It was at about 5 hours in that we started getting a wee bit tired... and we still had 3 hours to go. I didn't take many more pictures, but we met three cool dogs, and this is what we looked like 2 hours away from the end...

And 30 minutes form the end....

Shattered, we eventually stumbled into camp for showers before being herded to the closing campfire.

On to the main moot site! The opening ceremony was great fun, and we began to learn the dance that went with the moot song. It was hilarious. My favourite line is the bit that tells you to put bad stuff in the recycle bin! :'D

This is about when my phone started running low on battery and it was just too hard to find charging stations. In lieu of photos let me paint you a word picture of my first day - international day!

It's a good thing that everything was pretty chill on our first day, because my legs were so sore from the previous few days of walking, and my head was poinding from the cold I still hadn't managed to shake from Norway. Regardless of these wee challenges it was a wonderful day, and we tried foods and games from all around the world, with many of the 90+ countries who were represented at the moot holding stalls displaying aspects of life from home.

I loved seeing the diversity of the food, music, language and dress of my fellow scouts and the pride they had for their countries.

The day was rounded off with a couple of s'mores thanks to the USA scouts and a rugby game between Australia and the UK. It was wonderful.

The onsite programme kicked in the next day and we rotated around 'bases' with different themes each morning and evening. Again I have no photos, so here is your word picture! 

Loud, laughter, running, skipping, winning a game of life sized Foosball, colouring in, wrestling over blow up beds, winning at boules, wrestling over ropes, laughing some more, throwing blow up globes at each other and yelling about violence against women (a Voices Against Violence initiative at the Girl Guides tent), massages, cuddles on the grass, and cooking delightful camp food.

After lunch I lay down and accidentally slept until dinner time.... I guess I needed it!

The view from our wee end of the moot camp site was pretty amazing, this was at 11pm! 

Naturally, I threw my name in the hat to be involved in a Scout Youth Forum during the moot and I was lucky enough to be selected.

Myself and 80 odd other people from around the world headed off site to tackle one of the most exciting are rare challenges that face organisations like scouting - how to spend a new pile of money we've been promised by the UN! Our task is to mobilise our millions of Scouts around the world to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals which aim to improve our world in pretty much every way.

My buddy Ahmad Alhendawi was there too!

it was by far the prettiest 'conference centre' I've ever worked in!

And we got to walk past the place where Iceland's first viking parliament executed people!

And through the gap where Iceland is tearing itself apart!

Our third and final morning on site was filled with my personal favourite activity area - the environmental area! I was holding back squeals of delight when I saw the visualisations of how many earths each country would need to cope with the current levels of consumption and pollution, and the home made dry shampoo and deodorant making stations!!!

It's so cool seeing things like this being shown to thousands of scouts from around the world and I really hope that some of the ideas and information will be taken home and shared.

Another fun challenge was the no food waste masterchef station, where we were given weird offcuts and limp looking bits to make a meal with!
My friend Adam and I won our round, in spite of our spiced pears making one of the judges cry because they had so much chilli in them!

With that we had to start packing up, shutting down, and boarding our busses out. The end came as rather a shock as we were all just about settling in to the rhythm of camp and really bonding with our 'tribes'. 

There were many tears all round as we left, and I still can't quite believe it's over. Now sitting in the UK I keep feeling like something is missing, because it's just grandad and myself here. My wonderful people made the experience so much more than any other camp I've been to, and I can't thank them all enough. 

I miss you all already, but I am sure I will see you soon, somewhere.

xo Cait

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