In the morning, we took our car to the mechanic to have the punctured tyre mended. He was an expert at assessing and mending tyres. He said he got ten tyre jobs a day. We were there at 10am and we were already the third tyre job. He cracked jokes about the problem being female drivers. He said, "If only he had driven" - pointing to me - "you wouldn't have had the puncture." If only he knew that I was the only non-driver in our party!
We drove and drove, back towards Reykjavik. Recharged at the Shell station where we had learnt about Michael Jackson's death, then headed to Vik where we did some bird watching and sought out a view of the strange columns of rock rising out of the sea. We went to Dyrholaey to see the archway in the sea. We kept driving.
Our aim was to get to Hveragerdi, a geothermal area, where there was a hot river we could bathe in. Needless to say, it was LS's idea. Hot springs and outdoor baths were her thing. It was midnight when we got to Hveragerdi, a bizarre little town with strange houses. Chairs decorated with amateur flower arrangements lined the main street, about 200m apart. This was for a flower festival of some sort. There were greenhouses everywhere, kept warm by the heat from the volcanic activity in the surrounding area.
We stopped at a sign that said Reykadalur, the river we wanted to be in. Another sign told us that it was a hiking path. After ten minutes of walking we saw cars parked a distance ahead. We decided to walk back and drive up to where the cars were. When we got there we confirmed that it was the place we were meant to start our walk, and not where we had first left the car.
Hot river at midnight
We had a 3km walk ahead of us. It took us nearly two hours to get there. We kept thinking we'd arrived when in fact had not. There were posts in the ground marking the way. They were easy enough to follow, except that they didn't tell you where you were. We passed by a couple who'd just been in the river and swore it was the best bath they'd experienced. They confirmed that we were on the right track. When we got there we had to search for the entry point. I stepped into a ditch and got knee deep in mud. Just in time for a bath!
The pool was formed with rocks in the river. B and LS and I went in. LK was content to sit on a pile of dry stones and dip her feet in the water. It was 2am and not dark. We had walked from sunset to sunrise.
LS: Bathing in a natural hot river at midnight and still in daylight.
The yellow jacket
Getting back to the car, we took an hour. The girls talked about LS hiking in her ballerina shoes and her new yellow jacket. She had been complaining about the colour since she bought it but it was the only colour left.
LS (crossing a stream): I'm like a Shaolin monk walking on water.
B: Your yellow jacket has made you a fireman, a fisherman, and now a Shaolin monk.
B kept talking about "fording the river". LS started calling herself "yellow parrot" after B called her a parrot for repeating something B had said.
We reached Reykjavik at 5am, leaving us with three hours to get as much sleep as we could manage before heading to the whale watching meeting point.