I watch with Jimmie and Liz as the exodus to Reykjavík takes place. Jimmie had been the only one of the group not laid low by the terrifying weather that had gripped the ship in the last day. The storm had delayed our arrival in port by several miserable hours. A "severe gale and a high sea," Jimmie had called it casually, in the way that you might call King Kong a 'bad monkey.' He had checked in on everyone in turn, helping us to ride out the violent tossing of the sea and assuring us that doom was not, in fact, at hand. He had even gotten us all sea-bands which might, or might not, have helped us a bit.
While we stormy-sea neophytes were praying desperately for deliverance, our actual religious authority was chatting calmly with some of the crew, who generally agreed that a boatload of sick doctors is funnier in the abstract than it was in reality. But they'd told Jimmie that hanging back at docking was a great idea if we didn't want to join the outgoing tide of green-gilled GPs and sea-sickened specialists. "The volcanoes will be there later," they had told him, "and the ship is so peaceful when the passengers are in port." Sean had opted to go on ahead—he'd made a number of camera-buddies among the medicos and they were eager to point their lenses at scenery, especially the kind that didn't heave and sway dizzyingly.
As promised, Jimmie's new friend from the crew, Dale, joins us and leads us to one of the few shipboard bars that stays open when in port. I realize that I had noticed Dale at one of the dances. I give a little grin and get one back, and I think, maybe hanging back will be worthwhile after all. We have the bar almost to ourselves, and Dale has the scoop for us on the best places to go, including a thermal pool and a reputable company for an airborne tour, which Dale calls 'flightseeing.' It's a way to see various unpronounceable wonders, but Jimmie makes it clear that the flight option is out for him, at least in this lifetime. Everyone has their quirks, I suppose. Liz wants to go, so she takes a brochure.
Liz has been fairly vibrating with eagerness to debark while we pump Dale for information. Liz tries again once Dale has finished trotting out maps showing tongue twisters like Akureyrarkirkja, Eiriksstadir, and Seljalandsfoss. Jimmie summons a Martin Sheen voice from wherever his spot-on vocal impressions come from. "Never get out of the boat," he growls. Liz punches him playfully in the arm. Finally Jimmie confesses his desire to visit a big Reykjavík church called the Hallgrímskirkja, where there's a secret conclave of Anglicans, or something to that effect. "I promised dear Father Tom I'd have a look-see," he says. Earlier, Jimmie had tried to explain some homework he'd done for the trip, studying up on a thing called the "Porvoo Communion." Somehow Anglicans count as Lutherans while in Iceland, but the details were far too convoluted—and boring—for most of us, or at least for me. "How does this rebel cell of Anglicans fit into this Poopoo agreement of yours?" I ask. Jimmie laughs, and we spend a silly few minutes imagining the Anglicans meeting in tunnels under the church basement and then setting up snowspeeders for defense against the Galactic Empire. Once that bit of geekery plays itself out, Jimmie and Liz head to the gangway together, Jimmie doing a Harrison Ford voice while Liz badgers him about a trip to the Lakagigar eruption craters. The two of them wander off, chatting as if they'd known each other for years.
That leaves me and Dale alone at the table. Dale, it turns out, is from Wyoming, and we understand each other just fine. "Say, sailor, care to show me around?" I ask coyly.
Go aft ... quest ... Go for'ard