Stykkishólmur, Iceland

Kodak Portra 400 // Hasselblad 500 CM

After an entire week in Iceland of late nights and irregular meals, rolling into a cozy, quiet harbor hostel with free use of the washing machine and half a pizza leftover from the previous guests was no small comfort.  Stykkishólmur, where the Greenland scene in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was filmed, is the biggest town on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, which isn't saying much since I hardly saw another person there aside from my hostel-mates.

After dropping bags at the hostel, I drove back a short ways to a small mountain called Helgafell, or Holy Mountain.  It's a sacred place, where many dying people have made pilgrimages in hopes that they will be taken into the mountain as a transition to the afterlife.  I was there, tired and full and pensive and happy, to follow the strict instructions that would allow me make three wishes.  As I took my first few steps toward the mountain, my focus was shattered when I heard a gunshot ring out from somewhere in front of me.  I froze, but couldn't see another person anywhere.  I took another few steps, only to hear another shot and see one of Iceland's huge crows fall from the sky.  I decided to keep going and made it around a curve in the mountain just in time to see a man disappearing into a small shed with his gun over his shoulder and the big black bird dangling from his hand.  Figuring he was used to people coming to the mountain for wishes, I pressed on, locating my starting point at the grave of a woman named Guðrún Ósvífrsdóttir.  From there, I walked straight up the mountain, without speaking and without looking backward or to my right or left.  At the top, I found the ruins of an old Augustine monastery and from there, facing east with the crumbling stones at my feet and the peninsula stretching into the ocean in front of me, I made my wishes, even as I wondered what to wish for.