Sunday, October 6, 2013

The friendliness of Iceland

About 315,000 people live here among eerie rock formations and shining glaciers, but the landscape is so austere and weird, you might think that you had woken in an outpost in an alien world. ...

Hardship breeds companionability. Everyone in Iceland — at least outside of the city — is friendly. At last count, 121 people occupy the nation’s jails. And apparently many of them are allowed home for Christmas. ...

On the way to the rental car drop off near the airport, I got lost; as I was pulling up, a white compact swept past us, and a bright-eyed young man jumped out. “Are you Meghan?” he asked. “I’m from the rental car agency. I have your scarf,” he said, and handed me a plastic bag. I’d left it five days ago. “I have to rush off and do a drop in Reykjavik. In fact,” he continued, “if you’re going to the airport, you should just drive there yourselves, and leave the car in the parking lot.” “What will I do with the keys?” I asked. “Oh,” he said, “just leave the doors unlocked and the keys inside.” He spread his arms and smiled. “It’s Iceland!”
--Meghan O'Rourke, NYT, on one of my favorite countries