lunedì 31 dicembre 2012

Fourth Day, the Freaking Volcano

Fourth day in Bali. The last one. The last day of 2012. The last day of my life, I believed for a while.

My name is Valerio, I'm a runner. And I suffer from vertigo. Heights freak me out. No idea why. Just happens.

I can remember the day it all started. I was 8 years old, in Stromboli, Eolian islands. On the volcano.

Since then I have been looking for volcanoes and mountains to climb. To heal.

You'll be surprised, but it never works. Keep freaking out, no matter what.

I wanted to climb Bali's volcano. To see the sunrise from the top. Most of all, to prove I can do it anyway.

My friends didn't come. I tried to convince them: "let's wake up at 2, start climbing at 4, to see the sunrise at 6". Crazy people, why they decided to sleep until 10 instead?

The guide, Waiyan, is a very nice guy. Very patient. He'll need to be with me.

The trekking starts at 3.45. Easy path but no moon or stars. You can see below a picture of the view at 4.30. It's the black one.

We need to use a torch, nothing's enlightened but the ground before our feet.

To climb is easy. I feel comfortable. No idea what's going on around. I don't bother even the dog climbing with us, uninvited.

Suddenly we're up. At the top. 1700m above the sea, 800m above the starting point. It's 4.45 am. Still hard to see around for the darkness. But it's possible to understand that we are facing the most amazing show of Bali's nature. A view like no one else. Cold lava, a huge lake surrounded by volcanoes, villages, plantations. All before us. We're freaking high. And I am freaking out.

I tell Waiyan for the first time that I suffer from vertigo. He lights his fifth sigarette of the day and offers me one. "No, thanks", I reply.

We arrive at the camp where his friends are cooking food for all of us. They've been there since 3. We are the first group, other 30 people are coming. But I don't want to see the view.

Instead, I stay with Waiyan and his friends in the kitchen. We have a lot in common: they saw the volcano so many times. I saw myself acting like a frightened child so many times.

I eat and light my first sigarette after ages. It's 5.30 when I go out of the kitchen. The sun is coming out, slightly. Sunrise is expected at 6, dawn is upon us.

We now can see better the lake, the villages, the other volcanoes. Even Lombok, an island as big as Bali, far far away. Better go inside.

We talk and laugh. It starts raining. Good, the path back will also be slippery.

6, the sunrise. The view is spectacular. I ask Waiyan to see the crater, the smokes of the volcanoes, and to go the hell out of there.

Waiyan never makes a move. Always calm, always easy. I see the crater, going down for 300 meter.

Everything around is pure nature's power.

He pours me a second sigarette. We smoke together. Then we start going back down.

I can clearly see the 800m we climbed.

Surprisingly I feel better than usual. Who knows what they put in those cigarettes.

First 100m down I'm still frightened, holding Waiyan's hand most of the time.

But the more we walk, the more I get confident. Suddenly I can walk alone. Easy. Fast. No more fear, like a normal person.

We reach another group and a girl is still holding the hand of her guide. Pff, what a pussy.

Waiyan does never make a move. He asks me to take pictures of me. And I can easily stand with the void on my back. I can also take pictures.

We reach the ground and I'm willing to go up again. Already looking forward to the next volcano to climb. I will probably freak out again. But it will be less.

Like the philosopher Rocky Balboa once said: "If I can change, and you can change, then all the world can change".

Happy new year.

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