We are in Tanna Vanuatu. Last night we drove on a dirt road that was cut through a rain forest. It was just unbelievable that they could make a road at all here , and it certainly required 4 wheel drive. Krister and I stood in the bed of the pickup with Miles and Ruby standing between our arms, staring up over the hood as it deftly negotiated lava rock, mud and volcanic dirt, up and over impossible hills all the way to our destination.
Our destination (of many years now) was the active volcano at Mt Yassar. At 15000 Vatu (approx $150 USD) this was one of the most expensive expeditions we have done, and by all local standards we were taken for a ride. The ride was fantastic though, and when we finally climbed from the parking area to the lower lip of the caldera, we were immediately greeted with a great KA-BOOM and chunks of glowing lava (probably Miles sized) flew several hundred feet above us (though safely far away).
We skirted the caldera to a place with a better viewing angle and a slightly higher altitude and set up camp to wait for the sun to go down. As dusk set in the fiery glow from the two pits of lava started to overtake the sun’s fading light and by dark it looked as if we were staring right into a cannibal god’s terrible cauldron. Before long the volcano was going off in force spewing enormous ropes and chunks of molten rock high into the air. I left the kids with Vick and ventured closer to the eastern bath of fire where Krister and Amanda were. From there I could see the flames licking the air and could almost make out the bath itself. We took video and photographs and then just watched as pressure from the very center of the earth put on a surreal and spectacular show for us. I felt like the luckiest guy on the planet.
Miles, who has been talking about this practically since his first words was a bit scared. He turned it into a bit of theatrics though (as he tends to) and came up with a few gems. “I have a better idea. Next time I want to go to an /inactive/ volcano,” and “I didn’t want you to actually /bring/ me to a volcano, I just wanted more /books/ about volcanos.” Today though he’s still talking about it and with any luck he’ll remember the day when, at age 5, he stood on the lip of an erupting volcano at the edge of the world.