It has been a long day. Jet lag woke me up at 3 am, which was actually a good thing: I ended up sending edits on my next piece back to my editor at The New Yorker. After plowing through the document, I fell asleep again, only to wake up just 15 minutes before the group was supposed to leave. As part of my diet, I am eating Toosum protein bars, which are 100 calories and gluten free. I feel so much better when I have those for breakfast and as snacks during the day. Unfortunately, today I had to skip breakfast.
The group drove about 45 minutes to the harbor — which is on the other side of the island — and we boarded a ferry to Mykines. Having lived in New York and San Francisco, my idea of a ferry is that it is big. This boat wasn’t big. And if that wasn’t enough, the seas were rough. Rising, falling, rising. Much like life itself, I suppose. I was actually glad that I didn’t have any breakfast!
As the ferry navigated the choppy waters, the cold spray of the North Atlantic hit me in the face, leaving the camera a little wet. I am glad that I brought my Fuji and not my Leica Monochrom, as I don’t think it would have lasted through the vagaries of the Faroese weather! I took a few photos, but honestly it was more fun to watch the stark scenery: the sheer cliffs, the seabirds, the mist and clouds playing hide-and-seek. Sure, I was hanging on for dear life, but the ferry ride was magical. It made me realize that you don’t have to be doing something to remember and enjoy the journey.
After reaching the Mykines Islands, we regrouped and embarked on a long walk to the puffins. As they say, good things come to those who wait. After a not-so-gentle climb to the cliff’s edge, I saw the puffins. There were so many! Being the slowest in the group, I brought up the rear. That allowed my to take my time and get close to the birds. I sat still for a few minutes, slowing down my breathing till the birds and sheep forgot I was there. And then I quietly snapped a few photos. Some photos were wide, some were close-ups. I enjoyed using the 50 mm lens, as it allowed me to take some fantastic close-ups, though for some odd reason I forgot to switch the file format to RAW. Oh well!
The hike was about two miles, and by the time I hit the top, I was enveloped in misty rain and fog, making visibility near zero. Instead of climbing down steep stairs that were wet and slippery, I decided to turn back. Slowly and carefully I made my way. My feet were aching, and my left big toe was hurting. I sat on the cliff’s edge looking down at a steep fall. I knew a strong gust of wind would mean full stop. And yet as looked into the horizon over the angry ocean, I was completely at peace.
No phones. No distractions. No sounds. Except the bleats of the sheep and the newborn lambs running after their mothers. The fluttering of the puffins’ wings was audible when the wind died down. The loneliness and emptiness of this island is what captivated me. It was perhaps the most at peace I have been in a long time. The harshness of the landscape and the beautiful bleakness, notwithstanding the fact that people love and live on this remote, cold and windy island. The little village that you can see for miles is a patchwork of color. It has fewer people that the number of people who reside on the same floor as me in my apartment building.
My fellow photo nerds were out there somewhere, but I returned to the village, slowly making my way to Kriskianshus, the only cafe in the village. The owner fixed me a coffee. I sat down and snoozed, listening to the lullaby of an Italian family and their friends, Germans and their kids. They were all speaking English. Like me, they too were waiting for the boat to take us to the main island of Vágar. It would be another two hours. I was in no rush. The sea still seemed to be having a temper tantrum.
All photos made with iPhone6s+ and Moment Lens Wide!
May 15, 2015, Mykines, Faroe Islands.