Things I see on the beach

My apartment is, literally, merely yards from the Atlantic Ocean, close enough to feel the waves breaking on the beach. The sand is yellow-orange, medium-to coarse-grained with small pebbles, and in places there are rounded gunmetal rocks, looking soft enough to stroke. I tried to find some information on the geology of the coast here, and think that these might be basalt, but that’s just a (barely) educated guess. There are some shells, but not many; some sandpipers, but not many, and though I’ve seen plenty of people fishing I’ve yet to see a single fish. Nor have I seen any whales, though I do spend time looking for them several days each week! Palms dot the edge of what in most places is civilization rather than forest, and immediately beyond them are the businesses and residences of Monrovia. Supposedly there are strong rip tides here, and I have yet to see anyone do more than play or bathe right at the water’s edge. Since I don’t know anyone who ventures out in the ocean to tell me where it is or isn’t safe to enter, I have elected not to experiment deeper than ankle-height.

It all sounds idyllic, and the beach is beautiful, so long as you use your distant vision. Near vision will show you the inevitable garbage – the discarded fishing gear, the ubiquitous plastic bags tangled and snarled around bits of wood and rubber and glass; even the occasional needle or syringe. Tempting though it is, I don’t go barefoot.

I’ve heard mixed things about the safety of the beach: It’s not safe. It’s safe if you stay near the hotels. It’s not safe if you’re alone. It’s not safe if you’re a female. It’s safe if you’re a white female. It’s not safe after dark. I have so far limited my solo excursions to daylight hours, stopping at the edge of the “hotel district,” such as it is. I’ve seen many people jogging, playing soccer or just strolling and have stopped briefly to chat with several of them. Truthfully, they have stopped to chat with me, to ask why I am picking dead grasshoppers and beetles off the beach or collecting rocks in a bucket. I imagine they must think me the local equivalent of the crazy cat lady.

Limpets on rocks, Monrovia, Liberia, Mar 2019

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Limpets on rocks, Monrovia, Liberia, Mar 2019

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Notes from the Field: 24 September 2015

Giljalandi – Vik – Giljalandi

Wow! Blue sky this morning, with just a few powder puffs drifting aimlessly around. I could see what I guess must be Myrdalsjökull through the trees, and once I put binoculars on it I saw fresh snow high up on the hills. Not that I haven’t seen some beautiful views already but it’s absolutely lovely here when a bit of sunlight is added!

I went to Vik today, a village about 55 km from my little cabin in the woods. It’s small, tucked into a relatively narrow strip of flat(ish) land between Myrdalsjökull and the ocean. There are a couple of cliffs nearby and at the base of one is yet another example of columnar basalt. I didn’t expect to be following square rocks from one end of Iceland to another but that is in fact what I’ve done! I climbed the cliffs of Reynisfjall first and had a grand view of Myrdalsjökull and Sólheimajökull inland; Vik on the shore to one side and a long beach leading to Dyrhólaey lighthouse on the other.

I followed that with a visit to Reynisfjara, where the basalt columns rise from the black sand beach to form a cave of sorts. There weren’t too many people there when I arrived and most of them were polite, staying out of other people’s pictures and taking turns moving in close. And then there were the two French-speaking men who jjumped in front of several of us and took turns climbing up the rocks and posing on them. This annoyed me enough that I decided I’d needed to be in their photos and so I moved right on in, standing just next to or below the fat bearded slob on the rocks so there was no way his friend could get a picture without me in it. Rarely have I felt so satisfied. Shades of my mother, I’ll admit…

After a visit to the lighthouse at Dyrhólaey, I had a very late lunch of cured lamb, fresh bread and ice cream, all from local producers, at Halldórskaffi. The lamb here is good. Yeaterday I had some smoked lamb; today was cured… Maybe I’ll find some lamb soup tomorrow.  Anyaay, I headed “home” as late afternoon sun hit Myrdalsjökull. About five minutes after I got my gear inside… You guessed it… It began raining. The rain only lasted about 15 minutes and it looks like it might be a nice night to see the Northern Lights again!

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