Unique Exposure in Iceland

Today the Coconuts appeared in 2 of the largest newspapers in Iceland. All of a sudden on the same day we were contacted by reporters who wanted to write an article about us. They initially heard of us from a story that was written in the Faxaflóahafnir Associated Icelandic Ports website.

The first paper to contact us was FrĂŠttabladid who put us on the front page and Morgunbladid wrote about us as well, we appeared on page 4 of their paper. There aren’t many cruisers who venture this far north and especially not to winter here therefore our story and life style is sort of a novel idea to Icelanders.

Tomorrow we will be filmed by the National Broadcasting Service in Iceland for a weekly news and culture program that they produce called Landinn.

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Luna’s Birth Story

Today 8 years ago on November 6, 2006 at around 6am Luna was born. Her birth was a home and water birth. We were living on the North Pacific West Coast of my home country Costa Rica, in the small but developing beach town of Tamarindo in the province of Guanacaste. The nearest hospital in Liberia was an hour away and the roads were bad, there were also no midwifes working in the area, actually the only midwife working in Costa Rica (it seams at the time) was in the capital of San JosĂŠ. So we left our bellowed Magic House which sat on a small hill off a dirt road far away from town with only howler monkeys as neighbors and went to stay at my fathers house in La Guaria, Moravia for a few weeks to await Luna’s arrival. I was a single mother and had been raised my daughter Sol, Luna’s year and seven month older sister, on my own but at the time was renting out the bottom floor of the house to a couple who were also expecting and had a beautiful girl Azul nearly 4 months after Luna’s birth. Azul’s mother Andrea was American and her father Diego from Argentina, we where a family and for the next year grew together under the same roof.

I started labor on a Sunday around midnight, right after watching a movie. Exactly as I had with my first born. With Sol, over a year and a half before, I had also gone into labor on a Sunday night after watching a film, Sol was born on Monday around 6pm, as the sun was setting and the moon rising while Luna was born also on Monday but 12 hours earlier when the sun was rising and the moon setting. This is how close and intricate the life of these two sisters has been. There always seams to be a big difference between the first born and the second, as if ones body has figured things out and because I surrendered more the second time around. When I felt labor begin I ate a bowl of soup which I ended up throwing up a couple hours later. I called my midwife Uva and started passing the hallway of my fathers old house. My father wasn’t there since he lives on the South Caribbean coast in the beach town of Puerto Viejo and was keeping this house to have a place to stay when coming to the city. He inherited this house form his parents and has been in the family since before I was born so the house had a lovely vibe to it. Uva arrived around 2am and sometime after 5am when I began to feel the urge to push I got into the pool. Our maid Rosa, whom I had brought from Guanacaste with us to help me with chores, had woken up. I laid in the pool with Uva on one side and Rosa on the other with Sol sleeping ion the room next door, surrounded by female support I began pushing, it felt so different to be laboring in water. Sol was not a water birth though I labored in a jacuzzi for some time during her birth. Everything felt more natural, more elastic, I felt less pressure and burning sensation while pushing in water. We filmed the birth which I have shared with Diana Paul, founder of Love Delivers a non-profit organization where you will find information and videos about Homebirth, EcoBirth and the Motherbaby International Film Festival. Diana used Luna’s birth in a multi­-chaptered DVD compilation titled Five Countries, Six Births, Seven Babies showing homebirths in Guatemala, Costa Rica, France, the USA and Bermuda.

Luna was a very special birth because as rare as it is she was born with her caul intact, I never broke my water, so when she came out she was still inside the amniotic sac. I pushed her out and slowly grabbed her as she floated naturally to the surface, we began slowly to open the sac and take off the slimy transparent membranes, I put her on my chest and began welcoming her into this world. She slowly started breathing on her own and making those little sounds newborns make. After a while when I felt she was breathing well I stood and stepped out of the pool to sit on Uva’s placenta birthing chair. Uva gently massaged by uterus and asked me if I felt any contractions. I felt nothing but still I pushed and there the placenta came all out. What a beautiful piece of human architecture!

As soon as I laid in bed with my precious little Luna Sol woke up and came out to met her, it was such a beautiful and special moment, Sol seamed so wise, I could tell she understood perfectly how baby Luna had emerged from my big belly. Sol held her little sister and kissed her over and over, they had bonded for ever.

Many belief systems hold that being born in the caul is a sign of special destiny and psychic abilities. In medieval times the appearance of a caul on a newborn baby was seen as a sign of good luck. It was considered an omen that the child was destined for greatness. Over the course of European history, a popular legend developed suggesting that possession of a baby’s caul would give its bearer good luck and protect that person from death by drowning. Cauls were therefore highly prized by sailors. Medieval women often sold their cauls to sailors for large sums of money; a caul was regarded as a valuable talisman.

We shall see what the future holds for Luna, at her 8 years of age she has definitely shinned as bright as a full moon, her constant smile a symbol of that.

Iceland

Welcome to the edge of the inhabitable earth, located just bellow the arctic circle this island’s nature does some pretty unusual things, like putting ice and volcanoes next to each other and shortening the number of seasons to just two: light and dark. As I discover Iceland I begin to understand why the Vikings wanted to keep this island of ice and fire to themselves. Iceland is more unique and amazing than I envisioned it being. On the early morning we arrived by sailboat, when it was still dark, the aurora borealis welcomed us by displaying the most spectacular solar display I have ever witnessed. It covered half of the sky on our port side from bow to stern in an undulating arch form with hues of greens, blues and white. Conditions have to be just right for an aurora to happen, we have been here for 2 weeks now and have not seen it again, so we were extremely lucky to have seen it the one night we happen to arrive.

The geothermal activity is more vast than I imagined. There are pools all over the country, in every city and town. Here in Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital city, there are as many pools as there are StarBucks in big cities in the US. Each place doesn’t have just one pool, it has many different pools, there is an olympic swimming pool and a handful of jacuzzis each one with different temperatures, 38˙C/110˙F, 40˙C/104˙F, 42˙C/107˙F, and 44˙C/111˙F; some with massage jets and others without. The pool house we go to even has a salt water pool at 40˙C/104˙F and a large play pool for children with a giant water slide and an aquatic obstacle course. All of the pools are outdoors which makes for an interesting and intense experience moving from one pool to the other, walking in a bathing suit in freezing temperatures but while you are inside the pools you feel very warm and relaxed as you smell the natural healing minerals that are in the water. Some Islanders go to the pools daily and don’t shower at home since it is actually much cheaper to pay for a yearly membership to the pools than to shower at home. There are lockers and showers and you actually have to shower before entering the pools. The same underground forces that create its volcanoes also create the geothermal steam for Iceland’s radiators and super-heated water for showers and pools, with out a puff of smoke or smog. All power comes pollution-free from nature, electricity is generated by thundering rivers of melting ice.

The public schools are truly admirable. Our daughters were accepted into 3rd and 4th grade without any questioning, prior school records, tests, nothing. They simply said, “it is our obligation and desire to have them for as long as they want and need to”. The school is free but not only admission and tuition, all materials and school books as well, the only thing we need to pay for are lunches. The facilities are amazing, state of the art, modern and super clean; so much so that children are not allowed to wear their shoes inside the entire school, they run and slide around the slick floors with socks, they are always skating. The classes are mostly hands-on and not so academic heavy. They have cooking, sowing, music, art, chess, swimming, sports, library, religion, nature, socialize, community, social studies, math, English and Islandic as a second language, the later as a special class to international students. For unschooled children who are used to sleeping in and running their own daily schedule and interests, they are delighted and do not mind to wake up and walk to school in freezing weather while still dark. On Sundays they say “tomorrow is a school day, yay!”. If a Viking were to reappear today in Reykjavik he could strike up a conversation with any Icelander, their language has remained virtually unchanged for over a thousand years. They have the world’s highest literacy rate, a perfect 100% .

In Iceland you are looking at the true colors of the sky, sun, moon, clouds, rainbows and northern lights, because you are seeing them in the purest air on earth. And because of the gulf stream Iceland in the dead of winter can be warmer than NYC over 2000 miles to the south. In 930 Iceland established the world’s oldest active legislature while America discovered democracy 846 years later and 200 years before Chaucer, Iceland’s fishermen and farmers were already composing rich folk sagas and manuscripts. What has never happened in Iceland is that it’s people have never fought a war. One can feel the peace, security and friendliness just walking the streets.

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