Iceland – the Fisherman Trail conference dinner

I spoused along on Kaety’s conference concluding dinner. We boarded a giant bus at 6:30 which launched with the oddly ominous announcement from the bus driver, “Our separation will be short. We will reunite in 25km”

We were headed to Suðureyri, and the Fisherman’s Trail. I had to look twice and make sure it didn’t say trial. It was getting late in the day for a trial.

But a trial is what we got. We arrived in

and began our time with a tour of the fishing village. We made it not 50 paces from the bus and were beset upon by an epic winter squall. Horizontal Arctic Ocean rain came whipping in at 50 mph and had us soaked and shivering within minutes.

The lot of us ran like we were being pursued by wild dogs towards shelter…and beer.

The tour resumed from a chair in the town cafe as everyone dripped and fogged up the place.

We learned many things about Suðureyri which we swiftly came to learn was essentially a company town. The processor owned all the quota and everyone in the village worked for the processor including the fishermen, the baiters and the cutters.

One interesting tid-bit we learned from the Q&A session after the tour talk – the high school bus driver was the only guy in town who caught seals to ferment their flippers and purportedly enjoyed eating them with a big glass of milk.

Good stuff.

After the slightly depressing talk about how great their nicely marketed sustainable fishing village was they fed us…lamb. We were super confused.

Dinner with the international GIS people ended up being a complete trip. I talked with guys who were map makers from the Soviet Union who had smuggling ARC Info software across borders. There were so hungry for data layers that they would find any printed copies of maps they could find and digitize them – sometimes entering plot points by hand just to understand and visualize their world better. They would risk imprisonment by smuggling GIS software computer manuals into countries where owning such things was illegal.

Talking to them made me realize how far we’ve come and how important GIS data is to so many people.

Their criticisms of early benthic mapping were interesting – much of what the world used until the 70s was built on 5 transects and a lot of imagination.

Another guy I spent time talking to was a data consultant who worked with global industries harvested kelp – not the eating kind, but the food additive kind. The global politics regarding ownership of marine territory was fascinating.

We finished our meal in the community center and by 11 were convinced that our soaking wet lower halves would be sending us into hypothermia if a hot shower in a communal bathroom weren’t had soon.

When we got into the warm embrace of the GentleSpace we stripped out of our wet clothes that had become a clammy cold second layer. Kaety dug around near the closet and found the knob to our geothermal heating apparatus and announced, “Honey, I’m turning it up to 3!”

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