Butuwin by bobfoto

Butuwin

Chapter 58.

Before first light, my driver came to my door and we quietly with a toot of the horn to rouse the guards disappeared into the darkness. Across the other side of the country on a new island, a volcano roared into the darkness, another dusting of ash spewed forth from the inner planet.

My check in routine is well rehearsed and I find my efficient self waiting in a very quiet airport lounge. Shuffling around me are the first of the weary travellers, already tired and awaiting the fresh exhaustion that comes with air travel. Meanwhile the volcano continued its dusting.

I am to take two flights this morning, island hopping so to speak and each time as the plane's tyres touch down on the tarmac, a small burst of moisture explodes from the contact made between rubber and rock. I'm getting closer to the volcano and it continues its explosions.

The hire car guy is expecting me and we chat and fill out the formalities, he wishes me a nice day and closes the door behind me. A small puff of dust as the door closes shut. I am reminded that I am back in volcano country and I take a look down the northern end of the runway and can see the volcano. She is angry today and ash can be seen drifting high up into the early morning sky.

Throughout the morning I am greeted by old and new friends and they all express their care and say sorry for the loss of my dear friend and colleague. There are dusty handshakes and a few silent tears are shed. Up close, you would hear the volcano rumbling along, but from the other side of the bay, she remains ever vigilant, ever dusting.

I head out to see the family of my friend and I drive past kids playing rugby league, their tackling into the hard dry dusty earth raises a fine grey cloud. The grey dust clings to the sweat and stands out amongst the blonde hair and dark skin of the melanesian. The broad blue sky provides a backdrop for the grey ash spewing onwards and upwards from the mouth of the volcano.

A grader rumbles along, offering repairs to the road, relevelling great piles of ground. The tyres from the hire car and the grader itself continue to pick up and throw small moments of ash and dirt combined. The ground making factory across the other side of the bay continues to add more earth to the world sucking it deep from within the core.

This road is like many in this part of PNG. When it rains, this road flows like a canal, washing more earth from high up in the mountains down to the see below. Stripping the road of another layer and depositing it further down the hill. All the while the volcano deposits a fine layer on the raised sides of this road. The coconut trees just holding on, but one day they too will fall, decay, break down and become part of the earth once again. The volcano sometimes offers so much ash that the trees perish and you can see in the hills around the volcano that she has been active of later, and there is a grey tinge to the green.

A man asked me earlier if this was my first time to visit this island and I say that no, I have been here many times now. But each time, it feels slightly different.

Now, in the dark, hidden, the volcano rumbles on.
I like the stretch of road. The tall trees and the peep of red in the one on the left. Flowers? A bird? You lead such an interesting life. Armored cars? Heading toward volcanos? Crazy.
July 31st, 2013  
very nice Pov Jason
July 31st, 2013  
Awesome road with those high banks and palms. Doesn't the ash damage engines? I have heard of problems with aircraft.
July 31st, 2013  
I'm not sure what I like best, the dirt road leading into the distance to ?? or your narrative! Great image.
July 31st, 2013  
Your image is straightforward, yet your narrative poetic in helping us understand what is beyond that road. TAke care . . .
August 1st, 2013  
The ever-always cycle of life. May your travels continue to be safe.
August 1st, 2013  
I like the read...take care on the drive...the photo, and your story, remind me of these lines by Robert Frost: "The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.
August 1st, 2013  
@lynnb - that is lovely Lynn, thank you for sharing.

@olivetreeann @jyokota @judithdeacon @rvwalker @gerry @amandal - we left the church and headed down this road to a small Catholic Church with accompanying cemetery. Here some 500 of the community gathered at the graveside to mourn and celebrate in words, the laying of flowers and in song. This time the Uniting Church followers on one side of the cemetery would break out into gospel voice and then the Catholics would wait patiently and start up shortly after the United had finished. The Catholics would sing their song a little longer and a little louder only for the Uniting followers to sing a new song, longer and louder. This continued while in between songs the Catholic priest would say a few words, make me stand up again and acknowledged my presence and then we laid my friend to rest. We buried him in the ash and earth and everyone in attendance laid some flowers. All 500 of us stayed there for some time and continued singing and sobbing...
August 1st, 2013  
I like the gentleness of the reading
August 1st, 2013  
You make a great story teller. Hope you're OK
August 1st, 2013  
500 that's a lot of people. The day comes and I have kicked the bucket 50 people at the cemetery would be a lot. But would hope that one of the family would set up a barrel of beer and all could have a drink or two in my memory.
August 1st, 2013  
@bobfoto What a highly emotional service it must have been, my spine was tingling just reading your description.
August 1st, 2013  
Jason, was he young? Was it a surprise or was he ill and it was coming? Love your description you painted for us. Sounds very memorable and honoring.
August 1st, 2013  
You are an amazing writer - your narrative is so moving. May your friend rest in peace.
August 1st, 2013  
*tears* for your loss and prayers for the endless journey.
August 1st, 2013  
@houdiniem - it comes with the people. They have eyes and smiles that seek inside you. They are curious yet wise, they have seen horrors, they have fled the volcano, they live in paradise...

@swilde - I'm okay, flew home for 2 hours listening to some rock 'n' roll on my ipad on the last seat of the plane... just chilled. Busy day tomorrow, might end up on teev again.

@wildernesswillie - I'd be happy with 50 too. Thought about it today, thought about how much community and family means to these people. The singing was inspiring, the voices fill the air, it is humanity as it is meant to be.

A beer would be good.

@judithdeacon - Oh Judith, there were so many moments that I wished I was taking photos or film, but I went not as a tourist, but as a mourner and i mourned. It still chokes me. And it always will. My life changed today.

@amandal - He was an old man, his exact age was contradicted a few times today. But there were older men than he at the service today. It wasn't a surprise, but my concern is that the health care system has let him down. If he were in Australia or even in Moresby, then things may be different... maybe.

@wildwood28 - Thank you Sarah. Thanks.

@kittikat - Oh I know the taste of tears.... thank you Kitti.
August 1st, 2013  
Looks like a jungle
August 1st, 2013  
@michaelelliott - it hopes to be, but this is a suburb shot of Rabaul!
August 1st, 2013  
When 500 people come to your funeral to pay last respects, mourn their loss and celebrate the life you lived, it is a testimony to a life well-lived. Once again my sympathies to you and the family of your friend.
August 2nd, 2013  
@olivetreeann - there are moments in this country where displays of community are inspiring and then there are other moments where you just shake your head...
August 2nd, 2013  
@bobfoto Sounds like you're talking about the US! I think it's a humankind condition- not partial to one country or another.
August 3rd, 2013  
@olivetreeann - yeah I guess...
August 3rd, 2013  
Lovely shot, fabulous writings
August 3rd, 2013  
@kjarn - Thank you Kathy A :)
August 3rd, 2013  
That was absolutely beautiful.
September 20th, 2013  
@squamloon - thank you Jim.
September 20th, 2013  
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