Written during my trip in 2011.
On a lovely friday morning in Iceland I decided to go hitchhiking with my sister. Our adventure of the day started in Akureyri, the second biggest city in Iceland, with 17.000 inhabitants. Icelandic people call it the capital of the North. We used the petrol station directly at the nr. 1 road to Mývatn as our first hitchhiking spot.
The weather was great, with a rare combination of blue sky and no wind. Of course, the temperature was somewhat below zero degrees, as it was winter. We had to wait fot quite some time before the first car stopped for us. It was a man who was on the phone when he asked us where we were going. We said: ‘We want to go to Mývatn!’, and before we knew it he was already on his way, saying quickly before he drove away that he wasn’t going there. The next 30 minutes no one stopped except an old man on a bicycle saying he could take only one of us…
So, we were bummed and decided to get us a cup of coffee at the petrol station. Because we looked a bit cold we got a free refill, which is always nice. Enticed with caffeine we were standing on the side of the road again. After about an hour the second car stopped. And guess what, one man, who looked slightly familiar, and two women were going directly to Myvatn! Once we were in the car the vibe was awesome; we talked a lot about Iceland and how amazing it is (the best subject to talk about if you ask me). After a while we started talking about wool and because one of the women didn’t know the English word for wool, she asked the man in the front: ‘Andres, what’s the word for “lopi” in English?’ At this moment my heart skipped a beat. To understand why, I have to explain something that happened in the summer of 2009.
Akureyri, August 2009
In 2009 I was also in Iceland and I crossed Akureyri as well. Another similar thing is that in 2009 I didn´t bring a car with me and on a lovely morning I was hitchhiking from Akureyri to Mývatn with my friend Antje. At that time we stayed in a B&B just outside of the city, which is not practical at all if you don’t own a car. We had to walk for an hour every day to get to the city centre.
So, on this particular day, we decided to start our hitchhiking a little bit earlier. We just put our thumbs in the air when we started walking and before we knew it a car stopped. A man in his late thirties stopped and we got in the car. He asked us where he could take us and we said: ‘We would like to go to the library to use the internet.’We had to book some hostels because otherwise they would have been fully booked (like the one in Akureyri). He brought us to the library, but it was closed. The man said that we could use the internet at his home and we gratefully accepted his offer.
After we had booked our hostels for the rest of the trip he asked us where we would go next, so we said: ‘We would like to go to Mývatn!’, and he said he would take us to a great hitchhiking spot, directly at the nr. 1 road to Mývatn. But we had to get some money first and do some groceries as well and when we told him, he took us first to the city centre to an ATM machine and then he drove us to the supermarket and waited for about 20 minutes before we got back. After this he drove us to the petrol station on the nr.1 road and dropped us off there. Antje and I both were stunned by this stranger who did all these things for us, and before he drove away he told us his name: Andres.
I never forgot his name and when I came back to Akureyri I was thinking a lot about him. I would’ve loved to visit him and thank him for helping us back then. I didn’t know his address, so I simply couldn’t. However, because of some strange coincidence Andres picked me up from the same spot he had left me 1,5 years ago!
He was also extremely friendly during the second ride: he showed my sister and me the Godafoss and a hot spring hidden in a cave. People like Andres are not uncommon in Iceland, where it seems more normal to help each other. It’s strange how these things go, but I am very happy that I had the opportunity to say thanks after all!