Myvatn, Iceland

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 Myvatin, Iceland

“And if you follow, there may be a tomorrow. But if the offer is shun, you might as well be walkin’ on the sun” Smashmouth

Iceland straddles two tectonic plates –   the Eurasian plate and the North American plate. Lake Myvatn in Northern Iceland sits right on top of the rift between the plates.  This means lots of volcanic activity and interesting geological formations created over centuries of eruptions found near to the lake.(Dimmuborgir)

Lake Myvatn means lake of the midges which are small flies (another creative Icelandic name). There are many flies around  but the more mesmerizing the scenery became, the less I noticed the flies. (Skutustaoagigar)

One might find that this landscape is familiar if you have been to Rotorua, New Zealand (as I have) or watch Game Of Thrones (as I have not).  As you drive through this area, the lush greens and clear blues of Lake Mývatn are replaced with burnt oranges, earthy browns, and ashy beige.

The wet, rich landscape of the lake is replaced with a dry cracked earth, uninhabitable to most plant species -except lichen which must be the hardiest plant in Iceland.  

 As soon as I stepped off the bus I could smell the sulfur from the steam vents.  The strong smell  seeped into my skin, hair, and clothing. It is caused by the steam and the fumarole gas.

This gas gave me a headache and nausea after a few days in this area. I definitely tasted sulfur  in the water. They said that was normal.

With its intriguing and otherworldly landscape, a visit to Namafjall Hverir is something you must do in Myvatn. It  looks similar to Mars.

Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice vents letting off steam and bubbling gray mudpots on a green, orange, and gray speckled ground.

The volcanic vents are called  fumaroles; which belch sulphurous gases furiously into the air.

The sulphur deposits  were mined in Iceland in previous centuries to produce gunpowder. The strange yellow, orange color of this geothermal area stems from the sulphur.

The ground is very  hot and its important to always  stick to the paths in all of Iceland’s geothermal areas. Icelanders are brought up to fear the dangers in nature, but some tourists have not.  If you step on mud inside fenced off areas  your foot might sink straight into a hidden boiling hot-spring and get severely burned. It has happened.

This warm ground is also used to bake bread.

The famous geysir bread from Lake Myvatn is a rye bread made by burying wooden casks near a hot spring. This bread can  be purchased in several places in Myvatn.

The Mývatn Nature Baths are sometimes called the Blue Lagoon of the North.  These facilities pump water warmed by the geothermal activity into beautiful pools.   It is much more affordable than the Blue Lagoon, much less crowded and you don’t have to purchase tickets in advance. The geothermal water  is rich in minerals, silicates and geothermal microorganisms, which are believed to be beneficial for the skin.

Soaking in the pools is an excellent way to wind down after a day of visiting all the interesting sights in the Mývatn area.

I wanted to thank Argunnar Yi  from Smithsonian/Odyssey Travel. She is a warm, friendly, funny, intelligent , truly motivated guide.Touring Iceland with her was an amazing, artistic experience. She knows the best of everyone and everything in Iceland. She brings color everywhere she goes.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Ten Countries With The Cleanest Air

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Ten Countries With The Cleanest Air

“And this new air was so delicious, and all his old life seemed so far away, that he forgot for a moment about his bruises and his aching muscles.” CS Lewis, the Horse and His Boy

Clean air is something we cannot, sadly, take for granted today — all the more reason to keep working to make the air in cities and around the world the best it can be. Here are the top ten countries with the cleanest air.

1 Australia has the least polluted air in the world. Tasmania, a state in Australia has the cleanest air in the world. An enterprising Australian company is bottling their air and selling it to China which is one of the most polluted countries. How do you bottle air?

2 Brunei, rated by many international agencies as one of the most livable places in the world, has done a good job of keeping emissions low and maintaining forests, even with rapid industrialization. It has some of the cleanest, safest air on the planet. Now, if only the Sultan does not bring back stoning.

3 New Zealand has relatively good air quality due to low population density, close proximity to the sea and remoteness from other continents and sources of pollution. It is the friendliest country with clean and safe air. Sounds good to me.

4 The pollution in Estonia’s urban areas is among the lowest in the world. More than half of the country’s land is covered by trees and public transportation helps keep emissions low.

5 Finland always shows up in the top five countries with the cleanest air. Lapland has some of the cleanest air in the world. Lapland is also selling their bottled air. They plant two trees for every bottle sold.

6 Canada makes great efforts for the preservation of its wildlife and clean air. Air quality in Canada continued to improve even though energy use and motor fuel consumption increased by more than 20%. This happened because of increasing societal awareness of the health danger of air pollution, which created a political demand for change that was met by technological improvements.

7 Iceland is also always among the countries with the cleanest air and water. Iceland is powered solely by hydropower and geothermal energy. Iceland’s unique geology allowed for continuous production of renewable energy. Icelanders still use fossil fuels for transport and agriculture. There are currently moves to shift from fossil fuels to hydrogen, which is renewable.

8 Sweden is a role model for air quality. Their long-term climate goal is to have zero emissions by 2045. Sweden takes the global battle against climate change seriously. More than half of Sweden’s national energy supply comes from renewables and a thorough legislation aims at further reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

9 Ireland has managed to keep its air very clean. In addition to adhering to environmental regulations, the Irish are lucky to have strong winds coming in from the sea to blow the small pollution they do have away.

10 Fifty years ago Japan was a very polluted country and became known for pollution related illnesses. Today, Japanese cities are among the world’s least polluted, according to the World Health Organization. The country prides itself on blue skies, Prius taxis and mandatory recycling. What’s more, it managed to clean up without sacrificing growth by investing in pollution-control technologies and giving local governments leeway to tighten standards beyond national requirements.

Fly safe,
JAZ