We felt like we were on the surface of the moon as we bounced across the desolate ash plain surrounding Mount Yasur, an active volcano on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu. On the day we visited in 2008, the volcano was erupting every few minutes, sending a plume of ash into the sky. A road on the other side of the mountain took us right up to the rim, from where we could look down into the fiery hole to see nature at its most furious. Best viewed at night, it is at once scary and thrilling. The wonderful folk at Friendly Bungalows organised for us to go there in a truck, me riding up front with the driver as he listened to reggae music at full volume, Maurie hanging on for dear life in the open tray at the back. We stopped to take photos and encountered a man with dreadlocks, carrying a slingshot and striding purposefully across the plain to god knows where. The mountain is a sacred area for the John Frum cargo cult, which takes the prize in the wackiness stakes.
Photo & text © Christine Salins
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