June 23

Yesterday evening we went to visit the volcano, Mt Yasur. It was truly amazing and awesome, it made a loud breathing noise and spat molten rocks high in the air. Several times I was convinced I was going to have to dodge. The tour guides thoughtfully had us upwind so they flying rocks tended to stall as the spun towards us.

We met the guides in the village. There was another couple from a boat, a retired Belgian couple. There was a great deal of confusion about when and if the truck would show up. Our village coordinator was Stanley who is a fairly laid back fellow. The Belgian guy freaked that the truck might not be coming as they had been there already several days waiting to go up. I should mention the anchorage was extremely roly. It was like being a sea in a storm but your not - you are at anchor. Stanley told him in the sweetest way possible that it wasn't his problem. It was kind of funny to see the local man taking no BS from the uptight tourist. The truck eventually turned up and we went off down the village "road" which is really a path that becomes a river when it rains. Jonah sat in the back with his dad. He hooted and yipped while we bounded over the crazy road. I sat next to the driver with the Belgian lady squeezed in beside me.

We were stopped by the Customs truck from Lenekal the main town on the other side of the island. They haven't showed for over a week and now they show at 5pm while we were on our way to the volcano. There was much discussion in Bislama about what to do and after much back and forth the Customs man spoke to Jordan (in the back) who said we would leave for Port Vila in the AM and check in there. They seemed to accept that and let us go on our way. At the entrance to the park, the park ranger and Stanley had another big discussion since we were giving US dollars to Stanley and he would go change it on Monday and pay them Monday night. Finally we entered the park and stopped near the summit to hike the rest of the way. The sun was already almost set so it was dark as we set off across a huge black field of lava dust and boulders. We saw some flashes of light. We could hear the breathing of the volcano like hiss in and out suddenly a big bang and flaming rocks went shooting hundreds of feet in the air. I stumbled backwards dragging Jonah and keeping a eye on where those glowing rocks were going to land. It was very impressive.

We spent a half hour watching explosions until Jonah declared himself tired and cold. The guides lead us down the pitch black mountain side. It was weird because we would pass over areas where the ground felt very, very hot. On the way back on the lovely pitch black jungle road the truck got a flat tire and we all stood around while the driver and Stanley changed the tire. At least we didn't have to walk.

We decided to leave in the morning as the rolling was unbearable. I would have liked to stay as the people in the village were lovely and it would have been to spend a week. BUT I could barely walk across the boat without getting thrown off my feet. It was only the sheer misery of being thrown against each other all night at anchor that made us laugh.

We are doing an overnight to Port Villa. It should be interesting although I really hope to leave quickly and find a quiet anchorage with snorkeling.