Reykjavik, Iceland

Personal Crisis in Reykjavik

Forrest Mallard




I left Dubai on May 15 and started my whirlwind tour through Europe in Istanbul, carefully budgeting every purchase with some handy apps on my phone.

Half-way through my tour of Bulgaria, I lost my phone, so had to start the budget all over again.
I bought a new phone and made it through the rest of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Germany with the new phone, but after a very exhausting 13-hour journey from Hanover to Copenhagen, changing transport several times, in a daze I left my new phone on the bus when I arrived, so the budget for this trip cannot be accounted for.


I might have drunk a lot in Eastern Europe, but beers there were like $1.50. But Copenhagen and Iceland were different. I stopped drinking because the beer was too expensive, but I know for a fact I should still have had about $4000 in my bank account for the rest of the summer.

One week ago, after making a spontaneous decision to skip my plans and head to Reykjavik for a long sit-down, as I was checking in for a full week to the campsite here, my card was declined.

Mild panic, but the card still lets me pay for one night. This meant the card wasn’t frozen, it just was telling me that I didn’t have the funds to pay for a whole week (approx $80).

I tried to contact my bank, but they didn’t answer their emails for almost 48 hours, and probably wouldn’t have answered anything at all if I hadn’t started posting urgent messages on their Facebook page. (Their page is full of urgent messages from people trying to get help, in conclusion, their customer service is not so good). I went through 48 hours of frantically trying to reach them, to be told by an admin on their page that they would not be able to return my call for a few days because the next day was Friday (day off in the Middle East).

I had several friends in Dubai try to call the bank for me, but it was still no help.

So I am in Iceland, one million miles away from anyone I know, and the card looks like it has been hacked and all of my money seems to be gone, and I have $100 in my pocket.

I had already paid for the ferry from Iceland to Faroes on July 7, and then from Faroes to Denmark on July 31, but how to survive on $100 through all of this, and then survive in continental Europe until mid-August when I fly back to Dubai to start work.

Before I go on with this story, I would like to say, I am kind of glad this happened.

YES, I freaked out for about 24 hours.
YES, I got very angry at the bank for being so sucky with their customer service.
But I have made it through so much worse.

I immediately started working on a backup plan.

I started looking at my account on to find jobs in the Faroe Islands, just work in exchange for food, that is really all that matters. I’ve applied to 4 potential jobs, and I have a volunteer job there possibly, so the Faroes are still a work in progress.

While I was on the WorkAway website, I just happened to look at the Iceland page, and the campsite I am staying at happens to be a location looking for workers. — I took a shower, shaved, put on my finest trekking clothes, and asked the manager here for a job, WHATEVER she needed doing, I would do, just in exchange for allowing me to stay here until July 1. — It turns out that they really needed people. So now, every day, I wake up and then for about 4 or 5 hours, I help out with the massive amount of cleanup that this very busy campground needs, and I get to work with some of the coolest, absolutely wonderful people here.

Believe it or not, I am now eating better than I have been anytime previously on this vacation. Here at the campsite, people stop here in their rental-camper-vans on their last night in Iceland. They put all of their leftover food on the SHARING shelves in the kitchen here. These people in their camper vans eat WELL, and I am happy to take the leftovers.

But these campers leave other things too, sometimes they just abandon their entire campsite and leave the very expensive tent as well. — So I have found a bottle of whiskey, which I am currently sipping on, with water, and also have acquired some very high-end camping equipment.

SO, everything has changed… not for the better, not for the worse (though you might find that hard to believe), but it has definitely CHANGED.

I have gone from someone budgeting every single Krona he spent, to someone that hasn’t spent ANYTHING in the past week.

I’m no longer flying through villages every 2 days. I am now in one place, making friends with the staff I am working with.. and truly enjoying Iceland.

On July 2 or 3, I will need to make my way back East to the Eastern Fjords to catch my ferry to the Faroe Islands, I will probably breeze past some remarkable waterfalls, volcanoes and other insanely beautiful landmarks… but I’m OK with that. I am still REALLY enjoying Iceland.

Faroes and the rest of the trip are still up in the air, so please stay tuned for fabulous updates.


On a side note, I went out the other ‘night’ and ran into a friend I haven’t seen in almost 25 years. Alberto, looks just the same, but my feeble old mind couldn’t place him until he said “DC,” then I knew exactly who he was!! And I adore him, but these kinds of meetings come less of a shock as you get older, the Universe tends to bring good people back together.

Who the F knows what is going to happen next, stay tuned. 🙂



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