The Traveler and the Storyteller

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

Rhombie Sandoval, a photographer, started working for project Destination Austurland in mid-February and has been traveling in Austurland ever sincethen.  “The more you listen, the more you see” she said, when asked about what there is to photograph in Austurland. “Austurland has opportunities for every type of adventure seeker, so you will find whatever you crave to photograph.”


Some of the people we have had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with in Djúpivogur. “Money is not everything that’s why it cost nothing to come here,” Jón says about his home that he sells his artwork in. All material he uses are found locally. Djúpivogur belongs to the Cittaslow movement which emphasizes taking your time and enjoying life in a sustainable way. 


Öskudagur, an Icelandic holiday when children dress up in costumes and sing songs for candy. Instead of going door to door they greet business owners, who are also often dressed up, excited to hear each group’s song. You’ll even find the Mayor in costume! 



“Most of the tourist don’t listen,they only see. When you come to a place the best thing to do is lay down, close your eyes, and listen for a few minutes.Then you have an idea of where you are. What you see is only part of the place, you must listen. The sound is forever.”- Jón Þórðarson, mayor of Borgarfjörður.




While in Eskifjordur I was assigned to photograph Beggi. After our shoot we ended up getting a drink at the local bar. As we walked there he said he recognized me from our Tinder conversation over the summer. I turned bright red and burst into laughter. We shared stories over drinks until the owner was done knitting and wanted to go home. 



Beggi’s dog, Skonsa, which means small pancake. She spends most of her day keeping up with Beggi and trying to help while he feeds the horses. There’s a lot of character packed into that small pancake. Most dogs I’ve encountered here seem to have a job that they focus on doing. They spend most of their time outdoors, full of energy, and incredibly happy. Plus they all have the best names. 



I met Stefan and Bjartur in Neskaupstaður when I saw them skateboarding outside of the gas station. “There aren’t many people who skateboard here, so we got into it to make things happen for ourselves,” they said. They both work on pushing their limit to land new tricks. 



There is a calmness felt as the horses move towards Sunna. One horse’s interactions with her caught my attention. Elgur (Moose) is an offspring from the only stallion her Father has bred. Elgar had been to 3 different trainers but none of them succeeded. Her Father decided to give it a try, riding him in deep snow so it was less likely he could run away. “He was very closed off and afraid, but curious, and therefore I connected with him. I remember feeling like a hero, 16 years old riding this crazy horse that everyone gave up on. Although he is blind, I still ride him, he’s my ”round up” horse.”

Their trust in one another allows Sunna to take Elgur anywhere. “I’ve fallen off him so many times, but he always stops and waits for me to get back on. He understands me, and I understand him so well. I can’t really explain it better, it’s just a feeling.” Sunna has just completed her application to Hólar. She is currently working with other trainers to  prepare for the exam.

Text and photos by Rhombie Sandoval. 

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