Jan 18, 2012

Visiting the Volcano

The Wah and I just returned from a week's holiday in Vanuatu, country of residence of my grandmother, Queen Pat. Despite the old bird having lived there over half a century (I found out this trip she'd told my Grandad in 1960 she'd "give it two years"), and consequently seeing a lot of the place, I'd never visited the island of Tanna before.

Tanna is home to Mt Yasur, one of the world's most active and easily accessible volcanos. By "easily accessible", I mean a bumpy ride on dirt roads in a ute, before a reasonably challenging walk along narrow ridges of ash and cooled lava rocks to get to the best viewing sites. Our ute also got bogged along the way, but then as our guide John said - "It's all part of the tour!"

I loved it. Even the rotten egg sulphur smell that would spurt out with the blast waves every so often was delightful. Being so close to something so magnificently dangerous really makes one feel alive. That probably explains why I was so cautious around the edges; not an aversion to heights, no! More a keen sense of self-preservation.

The Wah, being the science nut that he is, was in absolute heaven. I'm fairly certain he was crafting scenarios that would allow to him live on or near the volcano's edge, with nothing but a sleeping bag, tins of baked beans, and his cannon-like telescope set up to examine the hot vents below, and the startlingly clear stars above.

"I'm a simple man, with simple needs," he said.

Yasur means "God" in Tannese. I hope the following presentation will go some way to explaining why.

Also, should I be calling my Gran "the old bird"? I mean, she was in the WRNS. But then, that does mean she might know various nefarious ways to punish an errant granddaughter.....


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