Around this time of year, 4 years ago, I was enjoying a Pilsner near the equator at a place called “Bar de Beto” on beautiful Isabela Island. It was nighttime, and from the bar I could watch the moonlight dancing on the Pacific Ocean. The air smelled of saltwater and “Palo Santo,” an incense tree whose wood is burnt for its lovely scent. Jarabe de Palo was playing in the background, and I was chatting with my girlfriends from the school I was attending when all of a sudden, BOOM!! The sky turned orange. A local surfer nicknamed Video came running towards us yelling, “El Volcán! El Volcán!” We ran out to the shoreline. A beam of fire was shooting out of Cerro Azul, a volcano on the southern end of our island. It was unreal. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. As a geography major, I live for stuff like that. I don’t know what to compare it to- a doctor saving her first life? Maybe that’s a little extreme. Seriously, though. Not only did the sky turn orange, but the ocean too. Beto turned the music up and everybody gathered on the beach and watched the volcano burn for a few hours. I had been to plenty of hurricane parties, but that was my first (and probably only) volcano party. It was amazing.
That was her first eruption in 10 years. It made World News, so I’m told. The only television we watched in Galapagos were the soccer games, which were projected onto a wall in the park for the whole town to watch. I’m so stoked my evolutionary biology professor captured these photographs. I’ll treasure them forever, even if they don’t do it justice.
The next morning we got in a panga and cruised over to where we could get a better view of the eruption (and surf). I didn’t have a super cool camera back then so I couldn’t really get any good shots of the lava flowing down the volcano in the daylight, but I tried:
I still can’t believe I was lucky enough to have experienced that. I can’t believe I was in the Galapagos watching a volcano erupt. Speaking of geography nerds, I found this video on YouTube from the National Geographic boat that was out there at the time. It was interesting to watch someone else’s experience from when they witnessed the eruption.
Another interesting thing is that just a few days before the eruption we had hiked to the edge of the second largest volcanic crater in the world, Sierra Negra, which had last erupted 3 years before that. Wouldn’t it have been crazy if we would have been blasted?
Life is just crazy sometimes.