Beyond the window of my room at the Northern Light Inn, lava cobbles are raising, each of them more and more angled than the other, forming a bunch of stones over which you cannot step without breaking your ankles. Mosses grow on these cobbles, but also lichens and other dwarfish plants looking like briers. The predominant colours are coal black, gray, olive green and reddish brown.
After breakfast I went out to take the first bath in the Blue Lagoon which I can reach by foot. Getting out the door of the hotel, I have the impression that I have been sent on a mission on the Moon: far away dark-brown mountains on which later on I would notice a bunch of trees lost in the barren landscape.
A road twists and turns among the lava pieces. The only orientation points are two buildings which seem to be geothermal stations. I walk on the road and my eyes follow the white steam that indicates to me that the Lagoon is close. The road is black, narrow and extremely smooth. Very rarely cars are passing on the roads nearby: a leitmotif, which interrupts the landscape’s monotony. It is very quiet here, in this flat landscape delimited by Keflavik, Grindavik and Reykjavik. A moment, I catch the glimpse of a black construction very close to the Blue Lagoon.
It seems to be the Blue Lagoon Clinic that the receptionist of the hotel drew for me on a hotel’s visit card. I reach to it. I would like to continue on a shortcut based on the received instructions, but the access is forbidden. I look again to the opposite side and I see a blue sign on which it is written in Icelandic “Blue Lagoon – 600 m”. The shortcut is a black track narrower than the road which takes me through the lava cobbles covered by green mosses. Immediately after few meters, the first puddles of the lagoon appear: they are whitish blue and have a white ground. The track goes through these puddles and a couple of times I pass over a small short bridge as in the Japanese gardens. Steam is floating over the puddle. Nobody is bathing here and I immediately get the idea of having the privilege to sink in these white waterholes and be surrounded by the black mountains alone. Unfortunately, this is only an unused part of the Lagoon. Shortly thereafter, the door of the center managing the sharing of geothermal delights appears before my eyes.
I enter, I put my bathing suit on, I take my going-in shower and I finally go out: to the Blue Lagoon. Outside it is cold and it drizzles. I leave my slippers and bathrobe and I go into the water. I get warm immediately. The water seems to have between 37 and 39 C degrees. It is not deep. I swim. I have to go back because my glasses are steamed; I leave them in the bathing robe pocket because I cannot see clearly. Steam comes out of the Lagoon constantly. I spend four hours swimming, relaxing, and experiencing warmer or colder water areas. The silicon which gives the water ground its white colour covered the wooden stairs, coating it in the finest porcelain or marble. From place to place, boxes with white silicon mud are placed. Little green algae grow in the water. The algae cannot be seen. I discovered them by putting my hand among the lava pieces covered in silicon. The mud is good for skin exfoliation and rejuvenation. Everybody puts it on their face and body. You need to leave it 5 to 10 minutes.
A group of young French people in their twenties discover the mud box and they jump on it. One of the girls tells the others: “Les gens nous regardent avec leur crème”. I would have liked to answer: “Les gens comprennent le français grâce à la crème”. They are having a lot of fun and start throwing mud at one another until the watchman tells them they are not allowed to do this. Not knowing what to do after a few rounds in
the Blue Lagoon, I put mud on my feet and I sit with one leg up above the water so that the mud can dry. When I later go out of the water, I notice that a Dutch woman close to me is also sitting with a mudded leg up above the water. We smile at each other.
I am swimming; I am floating through the steam in the whitish turquoise-blue water and I think of the topics about nature at the philosophy club. I think about the swimming pool in Siena from which I could see the idyllic farms on a peak of hill, surrounded by high dark-green pine-trees. Here I enjoy the intimacy of geothermal waters and I see black bald mountains around. There the nature lets itself admired from a distance, like a painting. Why do we appropriate artificial things while we are surrounded by such a rich nature on this planet?
I pass through a hot area of the lagoon and I rub my eyes. I am doing an interesting discovery. The colours I see with closed eyes are kiwi green, sun yellow and magenta-purple red. I repeat the rubbing because I cannot remember having obtained these colours before. Every time, the same colours are passing before my eyes, always with the green changing into yellow and then, sun yellow. Always in the same order, always the same process of colour transformation. Never another colour. The longer I stand in the cold water, the more the colours turn pastel. Lots of ideas are going through my mind, like the need to compensate for the colour that one hardly sees around, except as a sum of all colours: either black or white. I am sure Icelanders can see all colours, but how did their forefathers transmit this perception of vivid colours to them?
I go back to the Northern Light Inn on the same way, as an explorer to the base, fixing with my eyes the only orientation points – the geothermal station and the hotel – in the lava desert bordered by the brownish – black mountains. A little stone tower set up by the man’s hand and an indicator signal that I get close to the hotel. The road is going down to the hotel while at the horizon a parallel road is going up on a bright hill giving the impression that it has been broken on its way to the sky, that the only way is up and that lower there is nothing but a white, unreal, abrupt void bordered by the gray sky.
Tomorrow I am going to Reykjavik, 40 minutes from here by bus. I feel like seeing art, probably to have a fantastic nature interpreted by the human mind.