An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Off To Volcano Wonderland

I don't get excited much anymore, must be part of getting older? Christmas and birthdays don't do it for me, not like when I was 8. But if there is one thing that is guaranteed to get me excited it would have to be travelling somewhere new and seeing/doing new things. So that is why I am getting excited about going to Rabaul and the chance of doing something there that I have wanted to do for a long time - climb a volcano.

My desire was again piqued at the end of last year when now ex-volunteer Geoff, who was at Rabaul (or actually the nearby Duke of York islands), sent me this description and photo of climbing Tavurvur volcano.
I know that I exaggerate. Sometimes I get carried away with wordy passion, so I want to impress on you, that I am not exaggerating in the least, when I say that today, I looked into the anus of the earth. I climbed up Tavurvur, an active volcano, and looked in. It's a sight I will carry with me all my days.

Four of us struggled up its lava and ash-covered slopes, like Hobbits on the way to Mount Doom. At times the ground was hot enough to leave burns on our feet when bits of ash lodged in the straps on our sandals (sandals were the only footwear I had taken ashore). The sulphur fumes were strong, and at times I thought I was going to vomit, but I was determined to reach the top and look in.

When I finally reached the top, no description could have prepared me for such a sight. Its gaping maw was predominantly yellowish-green and white, from the sulphur, and grey ash. There was no lava, but a great, continuous roar of escaping live steam seemed to threaten me, and huge billows of brimstone and steam whirled and swirled around several smaller spires of rock, barely visible in the crater as I stood there, held in its thrall. I felt alone, feeble, puny, captivated, only turning away as pockets of stinking gas, enveloped me and I was forced to turn aside to breathe clean air.

I can remember once writing 'it was just another earthquake'; well, that might be all very well for earthquakes, but you could never say that about a volcano.

Bring it on, I say. First though there is a weekend of Tropfesting and hosting friends. This coming week might just top the Manus week as the best week in the country yet. Touch wood.