Thursday, July 7, 2011

What are the chances...?

...that I would run into the only other Fund for Teachers Fellow who was in Iceland at the same time that I was?  Well 100%!  I was in my final hours in Reykjavik walking the streets before I needed to get back to my hotel room to pack up to leave for home the next morning.  You could imagine my surprise when someone stops me in the streets of downtown Reykjavik and says - "you're the Fund for Teachers grant winner from Vermont!"  Well that was exactly what happened when Kristie Long spotted my Fund for Teachers hat and remembered the Facebook post by Fund for Teachers that a Vermont teacher was heading to Iceland a few days before she left.   
Pictured are Chris Shaffer, science teacher from Newport, Vermont, and Kristie Long, mathematics teacher from Houston, Texas.  This picture was taken about 3 minutes after running into each other on the streets in downtown Reykjavik. 
It is amazing how quickly one bonds with another person when they are traveling far away from home and you find someone that is sharing a similar experience as you.  We are both Fund for Teachers grant winners traveling solo to Iceland for over a week.  When we met, it was as if we had known each other for much longer and we spent the next couple of hours walking the streets of Reykjavik talking about our experiences in Iceland.  Kristie is from the Johnston Middle School in Houston, Texas and her grant was to study the geology, history, and culture of Iceland and Greenland and relate these areas to mathematics and the other core subject areas. 

Kristie asked me if I had tried the Greenland shark yet?  I told her no I didn't and that I was willing to try it, but I hadn't gone out of my way to seek some out.  Greenland shark is an Icelandic delicacy that needs to be buried in the sand for 6-12 weeks in order for the toxins that are present when the shark first caught to be pressed out of the body.  Basically if you ate this shark (known as Hákarl) as a "catch of the day", you would get sick (if not die), so instead you have to wait until is has rotted a bit allowing the toxins to exit the shark.  From all of the explanations of this dish, I have yet to find one that has a flattering description.  Ironically, we were in search of this at the local markets while we caught up on each other's trip details.  In a bitter-sweet moment, we were unable to locate any at the two stores that were supposed to have it.

Kristie had a back-up plan to get an iconic Icelandic hotdog (pylsur) from the stand that is mentioned in the travel guides as the best hot dog stand in Iceland.  I have not eaten a hot dog in over 8 years, but I was willing to try one from here (especially considering the alternative options in Iceland - there is always the half sheep's head in which you are supposed to eat the tongue, eyeball and cheek).  It was a good hot dog considering I don't eat them.  Afterwards, we exchanged contact information, said our goodbyes and wished each other luck.

Eating a hot dog at the famous Icelandic hot dog stand in downtown Reykjavik.  Icelanders love their hot dogs - I ran across stands like this one out in remote areas as I traveled through Iceland, but this was my first taste.


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1 comment:

  1. Welcome home Chris. What an experience! But hot dogs! You?