Sunday, May 04, 2008

Many guests: potential friends

We had our first visitor from Iceland last weekend but with my hasty preparations and travel, I have not had the chance to celebrate that fact. Today we had our first visitor from Oman. Welcome to you both! As y'all can see from the counter, we are now up to 107 flags in the virtual collection. I love the fact that I have no idea what part of the world the next flag will come from.

I have, briefly, set foot on Icelandic soil. It was January 4, 1968, on my flight home from a semester in France. We had taken the train from Paris on the morning of January 3 and arrived in Luxembourg City. There was a delay because of snow storms and our plane did not leave until the middle of the night. We stopped in Keyflavik for fuel. Now remember what a sheltered existence I had led in the Mediterranean climate of Central California. When I stepped out of the plane to descend the stairs to the tarmac, in those January pre-dawn hours, I was certain that if anyone had touched my ears they would have shattered like brittle glass and fallen in shards on the Keyflavik tarmac. I had never experienced cold quite like that.

I know, what a wuss. We waited in the terminal while they refueled, then got back on board for what seemed an endless flight in limbo. Eventually we really did get to New York and on to home.

This means I missed actually seeing Iceland, though you can tell by my weather-wussness that I should prefer to see it during the summer.

Iceland obtained home rule in 1904, sovereignty from Denmark in 1918, and established the current republic in 1944. The capital is Reykjavik, the language is Icelandic, and the population is somewhere around 316,000. It is a volcanic island of glaciers and geysers. [Wikipedia]

Iceland has taken great steps to become independent of fossil fuels, showing possibilities to the rest of the world. Way to go, Iceland!

The Sultanate of Oman occupies the southeastern end of the Arabian Peninsula. The Sultan is an absolute ruler though he has instituted and elected advisory council and the nation has three women ministers. The capital is Muscat, the language Arabic, and cardamom is a widely used spice in the cuisine. [Wikipedia]

For those of you who know Tracie the Red via OCICBW, you are aware that her Joe is a practitioner of Asatru - the revived ancient Northern European faith in the Aesir. Here is a video about Asatru in Iceland (9:49m). It is a serious spiritual path not to be confused with bastardized Northern European imagery invoked by white racist groups (just in case anyone suffers that misconception). [We were all praying for Joe and Tracie when his father died.]

Here is a slideshow tour (with nice photos) from someone's visit to Iceland (8:14m):

Here is a contemporary singer's treatment of an Icelandic folk song (lovely bittersweet feel to it) - no claim to authenticity here and he explicitly says his pronunciation was still in process but it's really nice):

A little contemporary Icelandic pop music:
Augun Opnast - Menn Ársins

And now some nice visuals of Oman with music to get your hips moving:

Omigod, what have the Scots done to the Omanis? [Traditional Omani music and dance, complete with a bagpipe of some kind - 1:47m]:

Yes, indeed, here is an Omani pipe band - pipes, drums, and saxophones included.

I do think Omani drummers have more fun than Scots drummers.

Here is some music (guitar and vocal) with poor quality photos but it's of the Omani team (red and white) playing football (1:42m).

--the BB

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