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📷 An Eye for Life: My Week Online 🇮🇸 #3

Thanks for joining me for Issue 3 about Iceland, Earth Week and kindness! I’m so grateful for the response this little newsletter has received. I plan to always start with a short essay, move on to visuals I’ve enjoyed that week and close with highlights of what I’ve shared online since I last wrote.

on the kindess of strangers
It’s late at night on a mid-June day in Iceland. It’s not dark and it won’t be, except for two short hours still to come. Still the clocks on our phones tell us that were we at home, we would have been in bed hours ago. We are driving the streets of a small town in Iceland’s northern fjords looking for a place to stay. Because while we booked hotels for several nights of our 10-day trip, this isn’t one of them. We have gone to the doors of half a dozen hostels or hotels only to find they’ve been closed for hours. There are no lights on in town. We passed the point of exhaustion hours ago. I feel my bones wanting to curl into the fetal position I so often sleep in. The next town with accomodation is far enough away, that we wouldn’t get there till morning. It’s too cold to sleep in the car. I’m a tiny bit scared and a lot stressed. The car rolls slowly to another intersection. We don’t know what way to turn. Then, barely visible around the bend, I see one light on. In a video store. The surreality feels like a movie, so this is particularly ironic. I think, “Video store? Who still rents VHS?” It’s 2015. People in Iceland, apparently! My partner parks the car and nominates me to go in and see if whomever is working so late, might know of a place we can stay. I’m greeted by a broad, kind smile and a welcome gesture. Boy does she ever! The woman I encounter manages to communicate in a combination of Icelandic and English - with no questions about who I am or how she might know I am trustworthy - that she has a small guest house and conveniently, it’s vacant. And not 10 minutes later, after she’s locked up her store, my partner and I are in a tiny, homey cottage on a hill above town looking at a cozy feather bed we’ve managed to procure entirely for free. 
exploring town the next morning after blessed sleep and breakfast
exploring town the next morning after blessed sleep and breakfast
Not until the next morning when the kind woman with the welcoming smile returned, offering a warm breakfast, and not until we’d handed her back the key and packed our bags in our vehicle - did she finally ask for payment. It was less than $50 USD! In a country where hotels could not be described as inexpensive, her kindness and easy trust meant the world to us. Hours, and several stops, later I realized I never took photos. I didn’t even get her name and I don’t know how to recommend her guest home to other travelers. It’s almost as if I imagined the whole thing.
In the last few years, I’ve often found myself wondering:
Would this experience have been similar, in any country not just Iceland, or would it have happened at all - if the person seeking shelter was LGBTQIA, Black, Brown, Indigenous or Asian? Are all of my friends accepted with the same kindness and lack of suspicion that I usually am, wherever they travel? Is this another example of my own privilege literally opening doors not open to others?
Just as one example, I did some research and found that both Black & Abroad and Traveling Black Spinster recommend Iceland to their communities. [I still recommend doing your own research for any destination before you visit.] Iceland is one of the more responsible countries in terms of how they’re addressing climate issues and it’s partially due to the way they’ve handled tourism that they’ve been able to fund clean energy projects and healthy initiatives. No it’s not perfect. [No place is!] But when we do get back out there and start traveling again, we can choose to support countries that seek to be good stewards of the environment because as Intersectional Environmentalist communicates: racial, social and environmental justice are all connected. These are concepts always on my mind but especially now, as it’s Earth Week.
I’ll end with a question for us all: how can we be that woman in the video store this week; who can we shelter, or be kind to? And if we have the opportunity to go out of our way and be kind, I hope we will all choose to do so with whomever fate throws in our path. No matter who they are.
this week online
I tuned into a #TwitterSpaces with photographer Chris Burkard who visits Iceland a lot and has lately been covering the newest volcano eruption there for National Geographic.
I discovered the incredible, joyful work of photographer Ibor Edosa Victor in Benin.
We Reading Rainbow fans and Trekkies got our wish granted!
Jesse Rodriguez
“Reading Rainbow” and “Star Trek” star LeVar Burton will guest host “Jeopardy!” this season, the show announced today
I found this roundup of things to read, watch or listen to.
Read/Watch/Listen: Protecting Our Planet - Impact Travel Alliance
and this stunner of a photo for #EarthDay by Mia Stålnacke
I signed up for a little “virtual travel” to Morocco! Join me? I also discovered these online and in-person trips that Atlas Obscura launched with 10% of proceeds going to Tomorrow’s Air [my favorite “set it & forget it” way to be kind to the 🌏].
Local Purse
Meet Aziz. He runs his own rug store called Dar Mejbar. Each rug is handmade and sourced from different Berber tribes all over #Morocco.

In partnership with @Intrepid_Travel, join us on Sat, April 24 at 4pm GMT to learn about and buy your own Berber rug:
and I marveled at this colorful lighthouse with a message in Spain!
Did you know #Ajo's lighthouse in #Cantabria? Recently, the artist #OkudaSanMiguel painted it transforming this lighthouse into a representation of the cultural diversity of the region! 🔝


#VisitSpain #SpainCoast #InGreenSpain @cant_infinita
I'll leave you with,
the one time I was a real cliché tourist, at the Blue Lagoon
the one time I was a real cliché tourist, at the Blue Lagoon
I hope to see you back here next Friday for the fourth edition of An Eye for Life: My Week Online. 💛 ✨
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Kirsten @kirstenalana

A periodic newsletter that helps you discover the work of creatives around the globe and ways you can help people + planet. Also includes notable online moments, photos, and an original short essay by Kirsten Alana.

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