With a suitcase full of thermals, snow boots and noodles, I felt prepared to face Reykjavik’s low temperatures and high prices. I was mistaken. My dewy-eyes froze as I paid £15 for a cone of chips.
Cocooned from head-to-toe in my 20kg luggage allowance, shrugging off the naysayers, my fellow believers and I began our long-shot pilgrimage to see the Northern Lights.
The anticipation was palpable as the wind blew us onto the packed coach. We sat, contorted in our seats, listening to the tour guide’s outlook for the evening.
The bleak foretelling took with it a few cynics, but the rest pressed on, united in our will and comradery. The luminous, full moon – met with reverence on the sun-drenched beaches of Asia, was bitterly acknowledged by a row of eyes inside a sardine-tin Reykjavik tour bus.
The other light chasers and I filed into the carpark, scrambling to get the best vantage point for the long night ahead. An hour in and the frosty air was beginning to bite my skin and my neck was aching from titling my head back in a desperate bid to see a flicker of light.
With my hope dwindling, a dull strip of green came into focus. Fearing it was a mirage, I looked round for solidarity, and I found it in their wide-eyes – the Northern Lights were performing for us.
Iridescent shades in perpetual motion; dancing, flowing and pulsating – green ribbons adorned the stars. We had no idea where they would appear next. Our hearts flickered as we chased the ghostly lights from one periphery to the other, undulating like a paper bag in the wind.
Streaks of pink and purple penetrated the light vortex – the still air affirmed our mutual experience as we breathed in the energy we had only seen in photographs. Engrossed in the wonder before us, silence ensued as no one dared speak for fear of disturbing the stage-shy performers.
An intense, serene power pulsated through my body, I felt invincible yet insignificant under this mighty spectacle. I wanted every person I ever loved to be stood with me, sharing this experience.
Awe-struck and unable to comprehend the magnitude of our chance encounter, we sat in silence, the erratic driving lulling us into a blissful, hubristic sleep.