Living off the [Ice]Land

The biggest, and arguably only, setback here in Iceland is the cost of food.

The other night I had a simple chicken breast for dinner at a no-frills restaurant in a small town. It was almost $40. Truth is, if I were here on my own, I would probably have sleep for dinner. Even pizza, the cheapest thing on the menu, is pricey enough to make you want to eat the crust- and the box it came in, too.

Speaking of eating, I went on a hike today and decided to channel my inner Viking and “live off the land.”

I filled my water bottle with the infamous Icelandic glacial water that spewed down from the waterfall at the end of the hiking trail. Then, I wandered into a clearing and found small ripe berries peaking out amongst the moss. I picked a few, popped one in my mouth and sauntered over to my brother to offer him one.  

“Why would you eat unidentified berries,” he asked immediately. 

He stared at me as if I couldn’t seriously have eaten that berry. 

“Spit it out.”

It was too late for that, and all of a sudden my mouth went numb and my jaw felt like it was locking up. 

Now, I’ve made my fair share of questionable decisions while traveling, like the time I got into a strangers car in Istanbul (Turkish Hospitality) or the time I took the train alone way too late in Portofino and had to be rescued by a homeless man (When It’s Not All Fine and Dandy). I was not about to add “accidentally ingested poisonous berries” to the list. 

Luckily, Iceland is too pleasant to have anything lethal growing freely. I realized that my jaw was just cold since I had forgotten to wear a scarf, and I was definitely not experiencing any symptoms of imminent death. 

I apologize for the very anticlimactic ending. I later identified the berries as crowberries- totally harmless and pretty tasty.