Alden Boon

Haukur Thorsteinsson: Life on the Off Road



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Because of how much time I spend at work, I decided that I would only work where I could be happy. It’s never too late to live your dream life — you only need to take the step, even if it’s a little scary.

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Hawk’s job is an envious one, as he gets to explore gifts of nature like Langjökull and Hekla every single day. Iceland is paradise on earth, teeming with surreal landscapes. For Hawk, it never gets old. Experiencing Icelandic nature through the eyes of first-time tourists imbues him with childlike curiosity, allowing him to gain new perspectives and see things differently. And the place with which he has most affinity? Vestmannaeyjar, a town and archipelago nestled off the south coast of Iceland.

“Vestmannaeyjar is right where I grew up as a kid. The main island has very beautiful mountains and black sand seashores. Two volcanoes sit here, one of which erupted in 1973. The flowing lava is still very hot, and it is possible to bake bread by burying it in the lava rock soil!” Living conditions in his hometown were precarious, and ferocious waves would sweep one off his feet and engulf him. At a very young age Hawk acclimated himself to these harsh conditions and like most kids learnt the art of spranga — traditional cliff rappelling sans the helmet or harness. “I was only seven years old when I was lowered on a rope and off a cliff with a 30-metre drop. We would climb cliffs to gather birds’ eggs.”

Before he was a mercurial tour guide with a triumphant sense of humour, Hawk was a social worker for nine years. He worked with handicapped people and helped them to achieve a better quality of life. “It was a very rewarding job because I was helping people; but at the same time it was very easy to burn out. I was giving too much of myself.”

Making a career switch is never easy, especially when you have a family to support. “Son of a brave stone”, his name goes, and staying true to it Hawk rose up to the occasion and took the plunge. “At first I wasn’t quite sure if this would be a good fit for me. However, after my first few tours, I realised this is my dream job. What’s not to love — getting to talk to people; big jeeps; and the majestic Icelandic nature.”

For others looking to follow in his footsteps, Hawk quotes The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “Don’t Panic.” Language proficiency definitely helps, but to really excel as a tour guide, Hawk reckons, one must possess a burning interest in what he is showcasing to people. “You need to be prepared and willing to research on the subject and be ready to tackle whatever comes your way.”

As for the tour guide himself, the pristine seas of Australia and Thailand as well as pyramids of Egypt beckon. “My passengers would always tell me about their home countries or other places they have been. I want to go diving in these places, and I have a desire to see temples and jungles.”

For more information on Hawk’s services, please visit his website.

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Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.