It is quit a strange thing to life on an Island with an active volcano. My family and I moved to Bali, Indonesia about 7 months ago. My wife and I work with a NGO that helps save women out of human trafficking. It has been a pretty crazy transition to live here. You know, dealing with things that would normally be easy and routine, like paying bills, getting a phone plan or even just cooking for your kids, those things become a bit more difficult. Everything takes a lot more time then it normally would, but hey, I am here to write about my experience with Mt. Agung.
As a photographer and a cinematographer, I was absolutely stoked to hear the Volcano had erupted. The opportunity of a lifetime to capture footage I've always wanted. But in reality, as I knew in my heart anyway, this was not something to be stoked about. As thousands and thousands of families were displaced from their homes, taken out of school, crops ruined, livestock left unattended and really the whole Island as a culture took a huge hit Spiritually as well as financially. Even those completely out of range of the volcano were dramatically effected. Why? Massive loss from their biggest industry, tourism. As soon as flights picked back up, the crowds of sunburnt bodies fled the Island. Millions of dollars vanished for the people of Bali. It has been quite a sad story for many, but the Balinese keep their heads up and their smiles on as always.
How I always make bad decisions.
I missed the peak opportunity to photograph the moment, as I had two sick children I was attending to, but I still managed to sneak away to see what it was like on ground zero. I packed up the night before and took off to adventure toward Mt. Agung at 3:30 am to capture the sunrise hitting the ash-spewing volcano. As I had charted out my spot I knew would look beautiful the night before, winds, weather everything looked great. Then, with out realizing, a typhoon would soon be arriving, which had switched the wind blowing from the NE instead of SW. Meaning my soon to be location would be completely covered in Ash, but little ol' innocent me hadn't the slightest clue.
See, I am very innocent.
Packed up the old Shred-mobile.
Yes I am dumb more often then not.
As I drove two hours in the rain on my not so comfortable custom bike, I was soon approaching my destination. I had marked my spot just outside the blast radius (to make the wife happy at least). Once I had arrived, It was still dark, people were out and about, so I thought why not go a little closer. I journeyed a little farther and a little closer and a little closer and then I realized,
"Hey the sun should be up by now?"
(Yeah, takes the old brain a little bit to get moving)
I pulled over, checked my GPS, and realized the wind had shifted and I was directly at the base of the soon to blast Volcano. I then found that I had not just been driving through rain, but acid rain. I know... I know. The sun was blotted out by the massive amount of volcanic ash in the air. My whole body and bike were now plaster with this fiberglass itchy rock powder. No, really, I know. Then I felt a pretty large tremor from the belly of Mt. Agung. and then I thought to myself,
"Ohhhh, that's what those warning signs said!"
So, as anti climatic as this story is because, spoiler alert, the volcano didn't erupt on me (I know that's what you wanted you sick people). I just snapped a few photos and drove out of there as fast as possible.
This was shot after the sun had already risen.
Keep Bali in your thoughts and prayers.
The craziest thing of it all was, when I was at the base of the volcano, where I surely would have died if the volcano had erupted, there were families and people mucking on with their daily lives. Everyone had evacuated once before earlier in the year. Only to return because the volcano did not burst as soon as expected. So, this time, when the volcano was actually on the verge of a huge explosion (As I am also hoping for a huge explosion for Verge in crypto :P) no one was bothered to leave again. Just, nah, not this time Mother Nature. So thank God it did not erupt at anytime completely and on a personal note, if it had, how dumb would I have been. All I could think about was, "Man, my wife is gonna kill me if I die right now."
Thanks for reading everyone. Please check out my feed for more of my filmmaking and photography.
apparently volcanic ash is super good for engines, especially airplanes.