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Before her eyes

Five men on a boat

INDONESIA | Monday, 1 July 2013 | Views [356]

His majesty the Krakatoa volcano

His majesty the Krakatoa volcano

Five men on a boat flying away from the rocks, the dust, the black sand and the sulfur’s smell. 

Through my five dollars sunglasses I can’t stop staring at the smoking crater, paying attention not to bang into something with all of this shaking. Five men sharing a silence balanced only by the noise coming from the back of the boat, crashing against the waves while we’re crossing the strait in between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra to return to the mainland. 

The captain fears nothing and pauses the engines only when we’re are literally flying suspended in between the sea and the sky - I can’t remember his name, he’s not a talker but he’s a great smoker. Ba-ri, our guide on the island, never thought about wearing a mask while he’s going up and down the volcano Krakatoa breathing sulfur. The third man is a young boy: he smiles, sleeps and from time to time the captain sends him on the boat’s nose to pull the anchor. There are still two men in the count, me and my American friend: a necessary ballast. Five men on a seven-meters fishing boat, pushed by a double Yamaha Enduro 40 engine: a representation running due to the tragic and fascinating story of an infamous volcano in the middle of the sea. 

Once upon a time an happy band of three volcanoes lived in the middle of the sea - picture a big mountain with three tops. One of them, with some sort of personality problem, one day decided to show off and burped in a biblical way. It was the 1883 when he did it and it was so loud that they noticed him even in Australia (some 20000km east). His erupting personality, among other things, caused a tsunami that killed more than 35,000 people and when the show was finally finished very little was left of the band: in his rage the bigmouth volcano destroyed himself and the volcano next to him, half of the third one was chopped off (you can still see today a perfect section of it). But what seemed to be a dramatic but closed story was in reality only the first act. 

In fact, all of a sudden, in 1925 Krakatoa emerged from the waters spitting fire and smoke and, ever since, little by little, he came out of the water growing exactly in the same position he used to hold. Fast forward to 2012 and what you have is a 400 meters mountain that’s keep growing. 

The volcano-island is officially active today and with the rest of the crew we camped one night at his feet, a sleepless night at least for me - but what an astonishing dawn we saw at 5am! And what an astonishing tiring hike in the sand we had to do. When we reached the top we were welcomed by the sulfur’s smell (at least in the morning is a bit less intense) and the amazing panorama around us. I can’t even describe what I saw, it was like standing on the shoulders of a giant - a powerful, silent and dangerous giant in waiting for its own destiny, surrounded by the sea and the leftovers of its fury, and if I’m here writing this story it is a clear sign that luckily while we were there its destiny wasn’t around. 

Ten days after we left the volcano-island crossing back the strait I received a message from my guide who, quite excited, urged me to go back since the volcano was erupting and I had to see the night lightened by the lava. 


Tags: beaches, boat, climbing, hiking, indonesia, island, sunrise, volcano


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