I’ve just had my first near death experience. I’ve been in Surbaya Indonesia a day and at 2am this morning we drove in a 4x4 to get to the top of the mountain to watch the sunrise. In the freezing cold we waited for 2 hours, but mist engulfed the view and we walked away sad. We continued down the mountain, I just hoped I would get a glimpse of Mt Bromo before we left, luckily It cleared by about 8am and as we reached the bottom, I started running around in the volcanic sand taking photos. It was a little strange as some black sand began to fall from the sky and land on my face, a strange feeling with the sun beating down. I would then continue the journey up to the crater of Mt Bromo, an active volcano that last erupted 5 years ago. It claimed the life of someone and another girl when she got altitude sickness from climbing it. I jumped on the back of a white horse and we climbed up the mountain. The black sand began falling fast on my skin, leaving the horse I climbed the last part by foot, it was a steep ascent and I was breathless. At this stage the sand began to form layers on my skin, it got in my eyes I felt calm though, there were others ascending so I continued with them. Reaching the top I became face to face with a huge crater full of black smoke, inside a massive rumbling noise and the smoke kept billowing out. I literally stood there in pure awe I kept saying out loud.. Wow! Wow!! This is unreal. Me and others took photos of it and of each other, we didn’t feel unsafe at this stage. I have videos capturing these special moment of pure elation and videos where I’m saying how incredible it is. The black sand had formed an inch thick layer on things. I began to feel a bit un easy, it was spitting with rain slightly and mud covered me, in my hair, clothes and skin. I had a huge dilemma whether I should take my expensive camera out or not with so much sand. But how could I not capture it for my book? I did it as quickly as possible.
I could sense danger, the black smoke was raising higher and higher and then terrifying drifting towards me and the couple left at the top. It was this point we realised we shouldn’t be there, I packed very quick and we went back down incredibly fast. I rode the horse back to the 4x4 I felt sorry for it, I could sense it was scared, it’s white fur and mane caked in black dirt. My guide had been waiting for me praying I was ok, we drove immediately back to the hotel where for an hour I washed the black sand from my skin, clothes, equipment, I smelt bad of sulphur, I was on some kind of rush, even now safe in a car far away I still have the dirt left in my skin. My breathe had been taken away by what had just happened, I may have missed the sunrise, but I witnessed just metres from my body the true power of the earth. I watched at the edge of a volcanic crater as it erupted, It was a moment I will never forget and I feel lucky I live to tell the tale. It was only a few days ago I felt an earthquake under my body while I lay on the ground camping at top of Mt Ulap in the Philippines, it’s like I am being shown the magnificence of the earth, something I have not witnessed before and it makes me feel so lucky to be alive on this incredible planet. Moments away from all the stress of normal living and just being at one with nature. As the volcano began erupting higher and higher we got in the car and left, I felt a bit nauseous thinking about how I had probably pushed to get those last photos a bit to hard, as it was unsafe but I don’t think I quite realised the danger I was in while I was up there.