Scrubby shrubs shot their way in between overlapped black boulders. We broke free of the jungle at the bottom of the sloped rock field. Just above the crest, the tip of Volcan Arenal spewed smoke into the clouds. We were lucky. Normally by this time of day, they’d descend and cover the upper half of the volcano’s cone. Unlike Volcan Poas, Arenal looked like a volcano that you’d find in a middle school science fair.
On top of the hill, all of Arenal was visible – from her powder rimmed peak, to the lava field, and on to the lagoon. Off-green patches of moss slithered across the slag, slowly obscuring their vesicular roughness. I begged the Goddess inside to show me their creation; show me how she stole life from the plants to birth her children. She never answered.
We moved on a couple days later to the base camp at Mt. Uran. It was a tiny place carved into the side of the mountain some five-thousand feet up. The only place to get food was a small bar. The first morning there, I sat on the porch eating breakfast with my journal and a fresh cup of Tican coffee in hand. A TV in the corner whispered Spanish to me as I watched swallow-tailed kites chase each other. Erupción—Volcán Arenal…. I glanced at the tube and saw Arenal answer my request. Two days after we left, she covered everything we saw that day in ash.
Andrew R. Baker is a traveler, photographer, graduate of Tusculum Colleges creative writing program, and a good ol’ southern boy from the hills of southeast Tennessee that now lives and works in China.