Halla Ólafsdóttir, the manager of the Black Beach Restaurant by the famous Reynisfjara beach, regularly receives strange shipments in the mail containing black rocks and sand.
The smooth pebbles and volcanic sand specimens are souvenirs taken from Reynisfjara black sand beach by visitors, most of whom are from the USA and Canada. According to the letters that accompany the parcels, the looters are plagued with guilt upon their return home, and some even fear the objects to be damned.
“People realise when they come home that it is illegal throughout most of the country to appropriate the rocks and sand here. In one case the stone collectors believed the rocks had been cursed. Sadly, I did not realise soon enough; of course, I should have refused to accept the accursed stones and returned them to the sender!”, Halla remarks in an interview with visir.is.
Moving rocks and stones is actually no laughing matter in Iceland. Aside from the fact that it is a crime, countless stories from ancient to modern times revolve around elves or dwarves that dwell in rocks, cursing humans that disrespect or move their rugged homes.
This has even affected highway and city planning, most famously a funny twist on the road Álfhólsvegur (Elf Hill Road) in Kópavogur town which bends around an ‘elf hill’ because the elves allegedly terrorised the road workers.
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However, Halla seems to be more amused than disturbed by the displaced stones and says she is happy to return them to the beach. Along with her husband and the neighbouring farmers, she is the landowner of Reynisfjara beach and concludes that, like in other popular tourist destinations around the world, taking keepsake stones from the beach should not be permitted.