Sometimes, it is hard to argue with the logic of a 7-year-old.
I was showing my young niece photos of Indonesia (she likes looking at photos of tornadoes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and animals – this makes being an uncle rather easy) and we came upon the below photo of an offering at Mt. Bromo.
“Why would you want to feed a volcano?” She asked. “It will only make it grow bigger and be more dangerous.” It was an astute observation. Then she asked why we’d hike to the top of an active volcano. That seemed dangerous and rather foolish to her. For that, I had no answer.
The Mount Bromo area is a complex set of volcanoes in a very dramatic setting. Piercing the sky is a tall, jungle-clad mountain topped by a sand filled caldera. In the caldera is the active cone of Bromo and the extinct cone of Mt. Batok. In the distance, rises majestic Mt. Semeru. The whole area begs to be explored on foot.
At 3:30am we began our trek from the village of Cemoro Lewang to see the sunrise over the three volcanoes from the caldera edge. Some tour operators offer a jeep ride to a higher point with a slightly more dramatic view, but we hiked from our hotel in Cemoro Lewang to the below spot for free. We were the only ones there. Sometimes it is great to be frugal.
After sunrise, we hiked down into the crater, across the sea of sand to the active cone of Bromo, where we took a set of steep stairs to the cone. The word Bromo comes from Hindi for Brahma, or creator, and it is a holy place for Hindus. I felt bad cursing as I hiked up the steep cone in the blazing heat, blaspheming a holy site.
Looking down into the crater, my mind was blown. Bromo was hissing and roaring, smoke was pouring from the cone. It looked like a gateway to hell. It felt less like a creator and more like a destroyer. I’ve climbed active volcanoes before, but this one seemed really angry.
And then something happened that I can only assume pissed it off even more. A man, who obviously values a few Rupiah more than his life, hiked down the steep slopes of scree and began collecting coins given as an offering to the volcano. He was stealing from the angry volcano, something that I did not view as a smart move. I expected the volcano to rumble to life, causing an earthquake that would send him falling into the smoking abyss or melt him with spewing lava.
At this point, we decided to leave. We didn’t want to be collateral damage in the volcano’s wrath. We didn’t want to be guilty by association. Besides, after all that hiking, the sight of the offering sandwich was making me hungry.
Have you climbed Bromo or any other active volcano?
Would you feed a volcano?
The Blue Flames and Badass Miners of Ijen Volcano (Planet Bell)
Bromo: Third Time’s a Charm (What an Amazing World)
Mount Bromo in Java Without a Tour (Be My Travel Muse)