Þar til hér — about looking death in the eye in Iceland’s remote Westfjords
The road towards the Drangajökull glacier, light rain, temperatures close to freezing point, Autumn ‘16, Westfjords, Iceland.
The car slips. No! With a huge jerk I pull the steering wheel to the right. Time slows down. In the far distance, giant pieces of ice from the Drangajökull glaciers are shrouded in a thick mist.
I lose control over the car. As in a nightmare I see the steep cliff on the left getting closer. It’s over. My time has come.
It’s the saddest thing I had ever come to mind. Here, with no human soul around, doing the thing I loved, I would die. Never believe them when they say they would love to go while doing the thing they love. You don’t want to die at all.
My instinct takes over. I hit the break. I pull the steering wheel again. To the left, to the right, to the left again. The car swings to all sides. Then, a miracle, I feel how the car changes direction and turns over to the right, driving away from the edge of the cliff.
I feel how the tires have lost control over the road. The left wheels are lifted off the ground. No, no! I’m going to crash. In a reflex I lift my right arm to protect my head from bad things to come. A silly, useless gesture. Nothing could save me now.
I feel how the car flips over to the right. A loud noise of metal on stones. Deafening scraping. The Suzuki Jimny slides on its side into the ditch next to the gravel road. Sh!t! They had warned me about this car.
There I hang horizontally in my seatbelt. Smoke, there is smoke, and the smell of oil. The engine is still running! In a reflex I turn the key to shut down the engine. It stops working.
Get out, fast, get oud. F*ck. No, is this really happening? Am I not sleeping? Wake up! No, f*ck! It’s real. I have to get out, maybe the car will start burning. F*ck, the seatbelt. I can’t get it loose. There is glass everywhere, and water. Help I need help, is there anyone who can help me?
I manage to get out of my seatbelt and I fall down to the bottom of the car. The car is on its side. Rapidly I stand up and try to open the left door above me. It’s to heavy. I have to get out of the car!
Crawling I manage to get to the luggage compartment and open the back door of the car. On my hands and knees I leave the car. I survived.
But, there I was, standing next to my crashed car, in a light rain with temperatures close to freezing point, in one of the remotest fjords of Iceland.
My body is shaking. Please let this be a dream! I punched myself several times. No! It’s real. It really happened. In the far distance I could see the mysterious Drangajökull glacier disappearing into the low clouds. On the other end of the fjord, the long way back, ascending into a white field of drizzle rain.
I was standing on the dirt road at the side of the fjord and in my back a huge mountain full of yellow shades blocked my way. In front of me I could see a steep cliff and the bottom of the fjord full of giant rocks. One of them had been destined to become my tombstone. But it didn’t.
As far as I could see there was nothing but nature an around me there was just the sound of the wind and water coming down the mountain. It was cold. I need help. Where is my phone?
I had been in the military when I was younger and suddenly the military drills took over. Personal safety. I checked myself. Some scratches left I was unharmed. My surroundings. The car was not smoking anymore. My phone. I need my phone. I had to call for help. And my jacket. I had to stay warm.
On hands and knees I crawled back into the car and found my phone between the broken glass of the right door. The battery. It’s cold. Please let there be power. My heart jumped when the screen went from black to a picture of my girlfriend, smiling into the camera. If she could only see me right now. What was I even doing here without her? I looked at the top of the screen. F*ck.. No, no, no. Two simple words, the key to a modern day adventure…
to be continued…
A story by Martijn Droger
Thank you for being my audience.