Posted by: Waheeda Harris | April 25, 2013

The drive-in volcano

St Lucia - volcano viewAs someone who adores the mountains, I’m fixated on that kind of topography, but it wasn’t until I was almost a teenager that I started to become fascinated with volcanoes.

It was the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in Washington State that peaked my interest.

That explosion became a classroom science experiment, as my teacher showed us the numerous news reports and brought us samples of ash from his trip into the state.

It was exciting and scary and fascinating to be able to learn how the earth had made itself known to the citizens.

So years later to be on the island of St. Lucia and be told that the volcano was not only active, but one could just drive in – I didn’t understand – was that safe? Was it ok to be that close?

But that’s how it is – cars, small vans and large buses come to the volcano, a short walk from the road. The scent of sulphur permeates the air, and small creeks run from the area downhill, flowing piping hot water from below the surface to be used by the locals.

This isn’t a volcano that spews lava – in fact its never done that. The last time this volcano sent anything out of itself was in the 1700s and it was steam and mud.

And that’s what continues – steam comes out slowly, the sulphur scent whirls into the air and the mud oozes out of the earth – a seemingly gentle action – but a unique reminder that the planet is alive.

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