OUR GROUP EVENTUALLY FINDS THE WILLPOWER TO LEAVE JÖKULSÁRLÓN and go ahead to our destination for the evening while the other group finishes their tour of the lagoon. Along the way, we come across a large farm with Icelandic horses inside a large enclosure. We get down the van for a few minutes to pet the horses.
Icelandic horses are much smaller than the other breeds, but they are sturdier and more adapted to the country’s harsh climate. They also have a gait that seems so smooth, Icelanders joke that you can ride a horse while drinking beer from a mug without spilling it. Also, taking an Icelandic horse out of Iceland is prohibited, and bringing in other breeds of horse into the country is not allowed as well.
We reach Höfn just before sunset. It’s the main town in southeast Iceland and is known for its fishing industry – fittingly, given that its name means harbor. It’s not so much a destination in itself than a base for exploring the region, but the neighborhood around the pier is worth a stroll.
Some of the group, including Yanyan and I, spend the early part of the evening exploring the area before having dinner of fish and chips bought from a street-side food stall.
By 9, we’re ready to call it a night and most have entered our respective rooms. But close to midnight, we hear the call.
“This is not a drill! Aurora outside!”
We’re sent scrambling outside our bedrooms, some of us in pajamas and flops, all carrying cameras. Braving the cold, we go out and look at the sky. And there she is, dancing in the skies, regaling us with her graceful curves and mesmerizing colors.