She explains to me that her husband is British. He is a scientist, a geologist to be exact which is not a bad job description when you live a few kilometers from a volcano. His specialiy is landslides and also river beds and we have interesting conversations about physics. It is very interesting but I notice something strange. This guy sees me as an engineer and that is not what I am anymore. I haven't been for a long time. I don't know what my job should be but I feel much more as a journalist.
He tells me that he has been on TV several times to talk about geology and every-time he is summoned, he is asked questions about a field which is not his and is expected to ramble random stuff. I am not too surprised, media can be fun but I am losing the little trust I had in it's informative power. My experiences on the air corroborate that line of thought and later, when I'll be on TV myself, I'll be convinced of how it is fake.
I have a shower, rest an they are both very nice. The house has two floors and I get the room on second floor. The view is beautiful on the green sunny countryside, I feel I am in the south. Without realizing it, I have reached the southernmost point of my journey, way more south than Tehran and the second southernmost point in my life.
In the evening, we are invited to their friends and we cross the beautiful fields to get there. Monkeys are shyly looking at us through the surrounding branches. These are Snow Monkeys, the most northern of Monkey species, the only ones living in a land that occasionally has snow. That is why they are so fond of hot springs!
The neighbors whom we went to see are very nice. They have prepared great Japanese food, as always and I try to communicate with my Japanese-English which makes everyone laugh. I use the opportunity to question my hosts about the state of Sakurajima.
Fox was right, Sakurajima is acting out. It is a very powerful and explosive volcano. It used to be on an island but in the beginning of the 20th century, it erupted with such a strength that the lava made a bridge to the land and it is now a peninsula.
It is one of the most dangerous and the most monitored volcano in Japan, mainly because a city of half a million inhabitant lies just under it.
Now, access to Sakurajima is restricted because of ongoing activity. My plan to climb it doesn't seem reasonable.
"I am not an expert on Sakurajima but if I could say something close to a professional opinion, I would say you might die there." I carefully note the concern coming from a geologist but I've always preferred giving up on the spot.
The next day the couple gives me an incredible amount of food and a copious breakfast. I can survive a few days without worrying about anything again. They also say they can drive me to Sakurajima because they haven't been there in a while.
We reach the volcano in early afternoon. It is smoking from the caldera but it seems to be of little concern to the Japanese people who are quietly fishing nearby. There is a foot onsen where people relax their feet. We should be a bit more careful to go to onsens when an eruption is near because the temperature can suddenly increase and we might get burned.
There is a sound and a while after that, the volcano gives out a puff of smoke. And then it calms down. And then it releases smoke again. It seems to be periodic.
|Sakurajima smoking with UFO|
For some reason, I am more stressed than I should be.
I am not far from that volcano. No more than 3 kilometers by straight line but the way is very steep. I have found a way which goes as close as possible to the crater by satellite imagery and after it will be a freestyle climb.
|I planned my way to the crater|
|This way must be used by workers to build lava canals|
The ridge become more irregular and I have to climb. It is very hard for me because everything is falling apart, like at the Aso volcano. But unlike Aso, I feel my concentration diminishing, I lose my bearings and I fall. My tablet also falls on several occasions but luckily, it survives every fall.
|From the volcano, I can see the city of Kagoshima|
|The crater is behind that slope|
|Sakurajima, from the ferry|