Walden World

The wacky and wonderful tales of Beth's and Catherine's global adventures. And all things Walden too.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Scary Icelandic Ghosts and Quite Unsettling Volcano Information

So we went to Vik in South Iceland which is quite near the unpronounceable volcano that stopped all air traffic over Europe back in April and May 2010. I remember it well as we were in Tunsia and then in Naples and were, luckily, able to fly being just south of the ash cloud.

Today the difficult to pronounce glacier-volcano has gone back to sleep but based on vulcanologists predictions the volcano next to it, Katla, is likely to blow at any time and send far more ash, gas and tephra into the atmosphere making the 2010 event seem a tad dull.

These active volcanoes seem to blow at time spans of 50-200 and some years, thus air travel was limited or non-existent the last time many of the giants went off and created a pastoral global havoc.

For example, a huge volcano exploded in 1815 causing the ´year without a summer´ everywhere from Europe to Canada.

In Europe it was horrible and a group of tourists, namely Lord Byron, Percy and Mary Shelley and others summered in Geneva. However the weather was so cold and spooky that all they could do to pass the time was inhale opium and then make up ghost stories.

Mary Shelley won the day in terms of out creeping everyone else with her creation which we know now as ´'Frankenstein'.

Volcanoes have a long reach, from literature to famine.

In 1783 an enormous volcano chain exploded in Iceland causing a European wide starvation known as the 'Famine Haze'. The volume of ash obscured the sun and poisonous gases killed livestock and people across northern Europe and caused winter like conditions for years. It has been suggested that the French Revolution might have been sparked, in part, by the catastrophe as bread became scarce due to failing crops. Thus the wit of Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, in replying to cry of the people during the bread riots of the peasants (who had no bread)  'let them eat cake' sort of dries up in the mouth if you think about context. 

A volcano is a creature not to trifle with.

As for ghosts, if you weren´t scared silly at the ring of brooding, dark volcanoes that surround the town of Vik, the gale force winds or icy rain could creep you out too. Out in the bay a bevy of strange spiked towers hover in the mist. Apparently they are the frozen bodies of gigantic trolls who tried to pull in a ship for salvage but turned to rock when they overstayed their night and were exposed to the sun.

Then there was Joka - the evil ghost who haunted the land around the hotel we stayed at.

Really more bunk houses then hotel per-se but quite Alpine in design and style. The ocean was one high tidal volcanic flood away from sweeping your car, and you, into the briny deep.

Anyway, right by the sea in the howling gale and tin pelting rain I heard the story of Joka.

She was a woman who loved a man and she became obsessed with him.  She was older and had a teenaged daughter.

Unfortunately, despite their co-habitation, the man she loved became far more enamored of her daughter, after some time, then Joka.

Joka found them coupling together and mad with grief wiled away and died.

However upon her death, her beloved could find no peace as she haunted him mercilessly through some creepy form of ghost stalking.

So terrified was he, that he went to the local priest for counsel and the priest foretold that if the man went to an Island away from Vik for 20 years he would be free from the hauntings of the ghost Joka.

The man did as instructed but after 16 years got lazy and decided that it would probably be enough time and  ventured back by boat to Vik.

He landed at the site of our hotel and, through the mist, and to his horror saw Joka waiting for him with a daggger drawn.

She stabbed him to death on the beach cackling madly.

So is the story of Joka.

With tales like this you can see why anyone would watch ´volcano unpronounceable´with a watchful eye.

Brrr...Joka and the volcano that sits and waits...I wonder if volcanoes cackle...

Umm...does anyone have a flashlight.. 



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