F olks with attention span longer than a few seconds should well remember the name Eyjafjallajokull. Yes, the very same mountain that stranded hundreds of thousands of tourists, lowered the GDP of some nations and made fools of some news anchors trying to pronounce its name just 14 years ago.
That episode belongs to history by now but the whole area is drawing crowds of tourists like never before. So curious are visitors about the place that every second farmer around here has thrown farming to the wind and are now raking in money by selling old ash in vials or Chinese made “local” souvenirs. Much easier than having to attend to livestock and much more money too.
The huge popularity has shown light on a rather unusual structure found here but partly hidden away in a small and narrow valley. Its name is Seljavallalaug which translates as the Pool of Seljavellir. It is one of the oldest man-made swimming pools in the country and sadly an excellent stop to make. Natural warm water flows in from the ground and the surroundings are both beautiful and surreal at the same time. Fab place for some reflection and tranquility.
We say sadly because although a fantastic place there has never really been anyone taking care of it. This has worked for decades as locals made sure to to clean after themselves, keeping the small pool free of dirt and garbage and thus guaranteeing the next guest a pleasant visit too.
Which is not the case with a lot of foreigners. A lot of folks now arrive to find trash on the floors, sand and dirt on the bottom and even condoms and other less impressive things floating in the warm water. Needless to say, no one has much interest enjoying a dip into such waste.
Naturally, you could say someone should take care of it, and some volunteers do try but the throngs of people now arriving make that difficult. There is also no money in it. The government has no interest in protecting unique things of this nature and you know what happens to things not taken care of.
We do recommend a visit and you´ll decide once there if you want to dive in or not. Even just seeing the place is quite something. But please walk lightly and take care of things here.