Wednesday, July 23, 2003


Friends: I could have paid $42 yesterday and gone on a three-hour whale-watching cruise with a bunch of tourists and a German cyclist I pedaled with for twenty miles to Husavik, but, instead, I chose to pay $5 and peruse Husavik's Whale Museum. It was as fine a museum as one could hope to come upon in a non-metropolitan area, covering all aspects of whales and whaling. Hanging above it all from the rafters were five full-size whale skeletons, the largest a forty-foot sperm whale. It was worthy of a half day visit with a host of videos to watch and an array of displays. But I had to settle for a mere two hours, as I didn't arrive there until seven p.m. I knew it closed at nine p.m. and thought I had allocated myself ample time for it.

I had somewhat prolonged my stay at the equally exceptional Maritime History Museum attached to the town library. After a couple of weeks of being Icelandic, I could fully relate to the many aspects of Icelandic culture portrayed in these two museums. One of its highlights was a half-hour video that realistically recreated how Icelanders had fished over the centuries before the internal combustion machine. It depicted seven men in a row boat on their way to their fishing grounds, three hours away. It spared no detail, even showing one man dropping trou to void his bowels over the side. After the men put out their lines, they engaged in a slapping game to keep themselves warm as they sat idle.

I encountered my German cycling companion, Delvin, again at the Whale Museum freshly returned from the whale-watching cruise. He said they hadn't seen any whales, but they could all go back again tomorrow and try again for no extra cost. He said the guide's commentary was so interesting, that he wasn't disappointed not to have seen any whales. This was Delvin's first bicycle tour. It was his third day on the road.  He had yet to encounter any head winds or much rain or long climbs.  He had no complaints and was in much better spirits than most of the cyclists I've met. He wasn't even complaining about having to walk his bike up what few hills he had encountered so far.

He was 45 with a wife and two sons--14 and 18. Most of his previous vacations had included camping, as he was happily doing here. I asked if he had any bicycle mechanical skills.  Not really, but he was an engineer who worked in research and development, so had an aptitude for such things. He said Germans have a saying which applied to him-- "I do not have two left hands." He enjoyed his work, but not having to be inside all day. He thought I had it pretty good being a messenger half the year and traveling the other half. When we parted, he said, "It was really a pleasure meeting someone like you. In German we have a saying, 'I would be happy to steal horses with you.'"

Later, George

No comments: