|Driving up to Merapi, we saw lots of Indonesian life.|
|A peak at one flank of Merapi|
Merapi, meaning Mountain of Fire, is considered to be one of the most dangerous active volcanoes, (in Indonesia? The world? Claims vary...) famous for its pyroclastic flow (hot gas, ash and rocks that flows (like liquid) along the ground at up to 450 miles per hour. Pyroclastic flow reaches temperatures of 1000˚C, can move hundreds of kilometres and it can cross water. This phenomena is what happened at Pompeii.
It's last big eruption was 2010, 2006 before that... the next one is due, our guide told us, in 2014. Stupidest question of the week was definitely mine: I asked him if it was frightening living here under these volcanoes. I just don't think I could do it. He shrugged and said, 'it's our motherland.' I think, maybe, if you grow up with it, you learn to live with it.
After failing to see much of Merapi we visited the museum. They had a huge model of the volcano and if you pressed the button, it would erupt for you. I don't think I was alone in finding the earth tremors of this replica, terrifying for the shadowing of what it might really be like. We saw just what pyroclastic flow could do, stripping motorbikes of all soft fittings, leaving behind a metal skeleton. And I learned the different ways they are monitoring Merapi and his brothers in Indonesia. (I didn't learn any of this in school. I switched off that day because it didn't interest me. It's one of the many things I've understood about myself as an adult. I am lucky enough to realise NOW how fascinating it all is.) They use photography from both satellites and ground level (bulges are a comment early sign), seismic measurements, monitoring the fissures on the surface and monitoring the gases from the output. I may have forgotten other ones....
Unsurprisingly, there are strong spiritual beliefs about these volcanoes (Merapi and Mount Bromo, the one we did get to SEE at New Year) and the Javanese people still make offerings to them to keep them appeased. I think if I lived here, I would too; it couldn't do any harm, could it? But if you didn't...
You can see here what Merapi does look like without the cloud cover.