Tuesday, 4 February 2014

An angry lookin' Volcán Tungurahua

So, this weekend was a bit of a scare, but, so far all is okay. Not a scratch, nor a speckle of molten lava in eyesight and, so far, no earthquakes too close to where I am currently staying. But that doesnt mean that I didnt have a thousand overly-dramatic thoughts of what might happen. Roads splitting open, rivers of lava spewing all over the place, gigantic rocks crashing down on the bus that I was traveling in.......Yes, very dramatic. I blame the films.

It all started on Saturday. Well, not really, as Tungurahua has been bubbling away for years and even more so since October 2013. Saturday is when something really pushed its buttons and it decided to explode. Literally.

Elder and I were about to get on the bus from Riobamba to go to Puyo for Elders birthday, where we would stay with one of his sisters, two of his brothers, an auntie, a few of his cousins, a nephew and his parents. (Elder is one of ten siblings so, yeah, a pretty big family.......)

Anyway, so there I was, buying salchipapas (sausage and chips) to keep my stomach content for the journey, when all of a sudden, Elder came over and asked if I had seen Tungurahua. I looked over to see that a crowd had formed in the road and were looking up at something. I wondered over, munching away, and saw this beast......

I had never seen anything like that before, so I wasnt really sure what what going to happen, if anything. Elder was ridiculously calm, which is a good thing, but my stress levels were rising due to the cloud expanding so damn quickly! We got on the bus and left the terminal. 15 minutes later, this is the photo I took of the same cloud, from the back of the bus......

Elder was laughing at my worriedness but I had a bad feeling and really wanted to turn back. About 10 minutes after taking this photo, the bus stopped and said we couldnt go any further. I was so happy. But then all the passengers started complaining that they had stuff to do so "vamos!" Uhhhh.....excuse me, have you seen that angry volcanic cloud of ash, acid and who knows what else, that is following us?! I think your washing can wait love!.....(is what I wanted to say).....but before I knew it, the bus was back in motion. Great.

So we carried on going for about an hour, until the police stopped us and told us we had to go back, for real this time. Now it was serious. Yet again, the passengers continued to request that we at least continue on to the next town. NO NO NO NO NO NO NOOOOOOOOOO. My chest was hurting by this point which Elder said  was due to worrying, and I am sure he was right. But I was convinced my body was slowly filling with volcanic acid.

Finally, we turned back. The passengers wanted $10 compensation. It cost $1 to get to where we were. I was so happy to get off the bus and what I thought was away from the volcano and back to safety. Elder and I got back to the house, listened to the radio to hear that the cloud was actually headed in our direction and that earthquakes were a possiblity. Bloody brilliant. I planned my route of action. Under the bed. I awoke in the night struggling to breath. I knew it was just a cold but no, at that moment in time, it was the volcano coming to get me. I awoke the next morning. I had made it.

Sunday. We set off again to catch the bus. Everywhere was covered in thick grey ash. Brand new cars in the garages were filthy, the crops in the fields were no longer green. You could see every foot step clearly on the pavements from where people were walking through the ash.

The base of Tungurahua

Ash covering the slopes of Tungurahua

Moral of the story: we finally made it to Puyo, despite having to drive around Tungurahua. I shall complete this blog with a few photos I took yesterday on our way back to Riobamba. Heres to hoping my remaining weeks here will be lava free!

BBC News: Ecuadors Tungurahua volcano spews ash and lava

In other news, my next destination, Cochabamba in Bolivia is not looking too great at the moment. Thoughts go out to all the families who are currently suffering and hoping that the remaining people will be found safe and well. Fingers crossed the situation improves very soon!

Bolivia: 29 killed in torrential rains so far this year

No comments:

Post a Comment