For those reading who follow AUGUST ETTA on Instagram, I'm sure you have noticed my recent posts from Iceland. Allow me to explain: I have wanted to see and know the world since I was young. My grandmother, an adventure seeker herself, instilled in me this curious desire. I would eagerly await the treasures she would bring home to Texas from afar: photographs, stories, and handcrafted artistry. Thus, 'moved by curiosity' has come to define much of my life. This desire to experience, observe and understand called me back to Iceland where I recently completed a personal journey in one of the most profound and mystical landscapes on the planet (in my humble opinion).
The journey began on my 33rd birthday in Reykjavík. I cycled solo around the entire country over thirty-three days in a clockwise direction. Thirty-three days later I finished the ride on the birthday of a dear friend, Elizabeth, who lost a long battle with cancer in January. My journey had a specific intention: honor passed loved ones while gaining a greater understanding of the universal ultimates I (we) face: life and death/light and dark. Iceland enabled me to confront these juxtapositions in an environment without distraction, in a centering geography of vast space and silence. My breath was the trunk of my being throughout. Each inhalation and exhalation rooted me to the physical and psychological endurance necessary to move forward each day.
I logged over 1200 km, roughly 750 miles in mountainous terrain. The journey was not easy. I never could have imagined the physical demands the geography would require. I had an idea, of course, but was quickly reminded an idea is very different than putting a concept into action. A mantra came to me within the first week, one I repeated daily: the roads will guide, my faith will take me. They did, and my faith never wavered. I mostly used a paper map, Cycling Iceland 2016, for direction and reference. I carried all my gear in my bike panniers and on my back: camera equipment, food, clothing, etc. Side note: I'm likely the only woman who sets out to cycle around Iceland with an electric toothbrush, my favorite French perfume, and lipstick. Alas, I have my eccentricities. Most of all, I had, and will forever have, enormous determination and curiosity.