|The view from the bike|
|Rice paddy outside of Yogy|
There was only one other guest staying here my first night—a guy from Dublin, Ireland. I’ve learned that there are fewer travelers at present visiting Indonesia (and very few Americans). Although there was probably a dozen or so tourist on the train with me (and no Americans that I met), that’s not very many considering the number of hostels and hotels here. That evening and again in the morning, we talked about what to see around Yogy.
We ate breakfast together, served by the staff of Green Gardens. On the table were an Irish and an American flag! After breakfast, he checked out, heading to Mount Bromo.
Later that morning, I jumped on the back of the motor scooter with Namda and we rode off to see Merapi, one of Indonesia’s more active volcanoes (which is saying something as they have plenty of active volcanoes). We headed up to the foothills below the volcano, to a village that was destroyed in the eruption last November. It was eerie riding toward the mountain, with smoke curling out of the top. As we got closer, I realized there was more than one plume of smoke. We passed rivers silted up with ash. Then we got to where the road was closed. Namda parked the bike and told me that I could hike up, maybe a kilometer or so, and he’d wait. He told me I had as long as I wanted, that he’d wait. I set off climbing the steep street formerly known as Kaki Putin through the former village known as Kinah Rejo . At first, there are rows of small stands selling refreshments and souvenirs: water, soft drinks, chips and bananas, along with photos of the erupting volcano. The road was steep. For the first kilometer or so, I pass venders, but then there are none. I keep climbing. In the distance, on another ridge, I could hear a chainsaw cutting dead trees. Occasionally I passed tourists also climbing to stand in awe of the awesome mountain. I kept going till there were no one left around me.
|Cemetery (see the bare trees on distant ridge)|
|Destruction from November 2010 eruption|
Alone, fatigued and hot, I sat on a title slab of what use to be the floor to a house and noticed that I’m was feeling a little dizzy. Checking my blood sugar, I discovered that I was low, so I eat a candy bar and wait, looking at the destruction surrounding me. Homes have all been destroyed and walls that still stand are buried with feet of volcanic ash. Several vehicles can be seen that were unable to make it out in time and have been rolled, crushed and partly buried, their paint and tires burned off. A few trunks remain of the trees that once existed, but most of them are gone. Much of the hillside has been planted with saplings, but it will be years before they are strong enough to stabilize things. To my east, on the far distant ridge, there are many trees still standing, but they are all bare, having been killed by the volcanic emissions. I keep an eye peeled at the smoking volcano, watching its emissions change from white to dark brown and back to white. It’s a sobering sight.
|Notice the ash level against the door frame|