Asha Ariel Aleia.All Rights Reserved.
H A U N T I N G S
ICELAND - 1970
What a beautiful, sunny day. The men had the day off and so we four, two couples, set out on one of our usual forays - a day of adventures. shopping or sightseeing. We lived in Keflavik, Iceland, where we rented in town. Our Icelandic landlord, Tofi, who lived in the house next door, reminded me so much of Santa Claus that I still remember him fondly thirty-eight years later. He also owned the local movie theater. Tofi spoke no English, so we communicated in mime and the occasional Icelandic word I had picked up. It worked well for us. We understood each other.
Today, we four would drive the road from Keflavik to Reykjavik, the capital, a thirty to thirty-five mile route. We would enjoy the scenery of the North Atlantic coastline with its farms or villages along the way. Icelandic horses are the beautiful "Shetland Pony" type. The snow, would have melted away in most places by now, revealing green, mostly treeless, landscapes of hills and flats.
On the way, we noticed a lighthouse surrounded by green lawn overlooking the waves of the North Atlantic. Luck! We saw the lighthouse worker walking near the base of it.
"Let's do it!" we said.
"He won't let us in," one of the men said.
"Maybe he will if we ask him really nicely. Come on! Let's go!" We girls replied almost in unison.
The car stopped, reversed and in we drove to get as closely as we could.
Five minutes later, we were inside beginning our ascent.
Up we went toward the top. I remember that I was enjoying this immensely and looked forward to the final top view.
Then it happened.
My foot couldn't raise to the next step.
I was going to the final landing - only a few steps left to the very top. I had felt no fear. I do not remember having any anxiety. I was as surprised as the others when my body suddenly "froze," in place - heavy and solid as a stone pillar - and would not or could not move an inch upward. The others called back to me.
"Come on. It's great. You've got to see this view," they called to me.
I was so close to it... Had it been fear, I would have pushed myself. I've completed many things in life after conquering the terror of it. No, it was not fear. But, no doubt, I was frozen in place.
The men came back down, intending to pull me up or even to lift me - after all, it was just a few feet and, at 185 pounds each compared to my one hundred pounds, it should be easy.
I still remember the astonishment on their faces, when they were "unable" to budge me even an inch. Some force, some thing, some one stronger than they were, was holding me in place and simply would not allow my further ascent. Several distinct changes came over the men's faces - they did not imagine me being that strong. In fact, they knew I was not. But, who was prepared to speculate on the possibilities for that which we were experiencing?
Pulling back suddenly - was that fear I saw flashing in their eyes? - they ran back up, joked and said, "OK, OK. Well, you can see out of that window, too."
They took a last look out of the topmost window and then we began the descent. As they came down, whatever had held me let me go. I felt warmer, as well. It had been a bit cold.
We thanked our gracious host and proceeded to Reykjavik and a fun day. Oddly, the men did not mention what had happened at all. I say "oddly" because they WOULD have teased me or prodded me on any other occasion if I had botched something or showed fear. Their strange looks and decidedly missing commentary told me that they were either baffled or concerned about what had just transpired.
Who or what was the source for the strength that held me and would not let me go on? Why did it allow the others to pass?
Interestingly, in later months, a newspaper article about the lighthouse said that, during a safety inspection of the steps, unsafe steps had been found. Each step was held up only by the mortar at its the edges to the wall. It stated that if one had broken away from the wall completely, it would have led to a climber's fall...
Was I being prevented or protected? By who?