Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag


It's all about cucumbers: Why "misbehaving tourists" make it into the news in Iceland

By Staff

  • One muddy cucumber of a traveler Misbehaving tourists or travelers in trouble have replaced the cucumber harvest as top stories during slow news cycles. Photo/Fréttablaðið

Icelandic has a term, Cucumber Time, to describe days or weeks when there are no news to report. Times when there are not enough disasters, scandals, crimes or conflicts to take up the front page of newspapers, forcing reporters to find something else to write about. News about the cucumber harvest at the geothermal greenhouse farms suddenly become important enough to be the topic of public debate. 

Read more: Photos: Reykjavík fire department rescues cat from tree

Read more: News of daring rescue of a cat by Police, Fire Dept a wonderful reminder of peacefulness of Iceland

Stories about cats stuck in trees can serve the same purpose. The fire department rescuing a cat is great material for a good "cucumber story". Icelandic media are full of these stories. Wonderful little human interest stories about events which would never make it into the national news in other countries. 

Misbehaving tourists and cucumbers
Foreign observers often fail to realize this: Iceland is a very small society, with only 340,000 people. It's also one of the safest and most peaceful societies in the world. Crime is low, gun crime is non-existent, and murders are rare. The politeness and peacefulness of Icelandic society is a major reason why stories about "misbehaving tourists" make it into the national media. 

Read more: Midnight rescue of travelers stuck in cliffs at one of Snæfellsnes' most picturesque spots

In a country where a cat stuck in a tree is a big enough story to make it into the evening news, a traveler stuck in cliffs is obviously a big story!

This is why off-roading travelers, tourists in trouble and silly cultural misunderstandings can be newsworthy in Iceland. Keep in mind that the news-cycle is usually slowest in summer, which happens to be the prime growth season for greenhouse cucumbers - and now tourism. 

A cucumber or a public service announcement?
Next time you read a story about a misbehaving tourist you should keep this in mind. Icelandic media (and we here at Iceland Magazine) cover these stories because we Icelanders are genuinely shocked when people who are enjoying the outdoors and everything Icelandic nature has to offer leave a trail of destruction. We also find it amusing and entertaining to read about travelers who do silly things. These stories are written both as entertainment and cautionary tales to others. The message is: Don't do this! 

Read more: Photos: Travellers in a compact car get stuck on mountain route 66 only suitable for trucks

But you should also remember that these stories are cucumbers of sort. Which is one of the things that makes Iceland wonderful: It is a country which is so peaceful and polite that an idiot driving off-road can actually make it into the national news! If that's among the most serious social problems we are facing we have plenty of reasons to be thankful!



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