Daisy Bateman

Day 5 continued- Volcano Sail-By

In a shocking change of pace, tonight’s event of intrest occurred on the boat (“The Super 8 of the Seas”). Or, more accurately, about half a mile away from the boat, because that’s about as close as you can get to flowing lava in a cruise ship.

Actually, it was pretty cool. We were sailing around the southern edge of the Big Island, on our way from Hilo to Kona, and we passed by where the volcano is currently erupting into the sea at around ten in the evening. And even at that distance it was something to see, bright red-orange steaks of lava flowing slowly down into the black water, sending up huge plumes of steam that reached out all the way to where we were. It was the sort of thing that gets you thinking about the power and beauty of nature, or it would, if people’s damn flashbulbs would stop going off in your eyes.

I mean seriously, flash photography? “Boy, it’s a good thing I had the flash on my camera on. Otherwise this tiny picture of something half a mile away would be completely incomprehensible!”

I’m just glad we weren’t in one of the places on the ship where you can only see out through plexiglas windows. Because nothing promotes a calm and healthful mindset like being repeatedly blinded by people who are having trouble grasping the concept of “reflection”.

Megan and I had staked out a place on the bow, so we got a great view as the boat did a full 360-degree turn, so that everyone could get a chance to see. Of course, the second the view from our position started to slip away, everyone went charging around to the other side, so so much for that idea. We stayed where we were (the view of the night sky was amazing, with occasional shooting stars as a bonus), and were rewarded with the coolest view so far: one of the lesser vents, separate from the main field, suddenly sending up a fountain of lava. Thus proving that, while virtue may be its own reward, explosions are better.

The best story I heard about Pele was from the driver of the rental car shuttle who was taking me back to the pier. He was telling me about a town that was destroyed by an eruption a few years back, and he mentioned that there was a story about that.
“They say,” he said, “that Madame Pele was hitchhiking in that town the night before, and no one would pick her up and give her a ride, except this rancher.” (He said the names of the town and the rancher, but I have forgotten them both.) “He picked her up and took her where she wanted to go, and the next day the volcano erupted and destroyed the whole town, except his ranch. The lava came up and stopped at his property line. You can go and see it today.”

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