Woke up at 2 a.m. this morning - bright and chipper, ready to go after arriving home from Europe last night. Only problem is that it was still dark... imagine that? Guess I'll fade away later today, but the jet lag hasn't really set in yet.
I have always been completely fascinated with volcanoes. I can remember as a child watching some movie where the natives had to run away from a raging volcano, with giant flaming rocks careening down from the blackened skies, boiling hot rivers of red glowing lava streaming by around them... and thus composed in my head such a vision of all volcanoes.
When visiting Mt. Vesuvius in Italy, looming in the distance over the bay of Naples, I was thrilled with the opportunity to hike up its steep, red, gravelly peak, though having to huff and puff all the while in the sweaty, humid June heat. The ankle I sprained was tightly wrapped in my trusty ace bandage, and still fat and ugly. The slippery gravel was treacherous and I was the slowpoke of the bunch. An aging Gypsy couple standing at the beginning of the trail was handing out walking sticks to all the tourists, but being forewarned by the bus driver that a small fee in euros would be extracted upon their return (sticks), we avoided them. I was hoping for a promised puff of smoke from the crater or a fumerole, but there was nothing in sight. I picked up some sharp red pumice which was everywhere underfoot to put into my pocket. I'm hoping there isn't a curse on this volcano like the one on Kilauea, on the big island of Hawaii - where Pele - who is a goddess of fire, lightning, dance, volcanoes and violence, is said to curse Hawaii visitors who return to their homeland with volcanic rock. The fire god will bring you terrible misfortune until you return what you took.
Half way through our trip our camera conked out, so we used our traveling companion's camera (quite presumptuous of us, yes?) to snap a few coveted pictures. I think it will be a little while before we are able to get those pics, due to the fact that those folks are still in London...
I will post about Pompei - which is one of the two cities which was destroyed by the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius. That city has been partially excavated where it lay beneath 20 feet of rock-hard ash which covered everything. It was just fabulous to stroll down its streets paved in stone, a time so far in the past but well preserved.
The volcanoes in Iceland were the first I've ever seen up close and personal (other than our own Mt St. Helens in Washington State, which was completely fogged over with rain and clouds when I visited in 1996, preventing any viewing, and a partial view of Kilauea's old eruptions but not the current one), and are very different in color and structure than Vesuvius. I love to see anything to do with volcanos - and this was indeed a highlight of my trip.