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August 22, 2005

Gunung Api (mountain of fire)

DAY: 68
LOCATION: Sumbawa Island - Moyo Island
LATITUDE : S 8 degs, 10.75'
LONGITUDE: E 117 degs, 41.39'

For the past three days we have been working our way around the vast peninsula of Gunung Tambora, site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the 19th century. To look up at its heights from sea level is quite impressive as it stands today at over 2900 meters or nearly 9000 ft. in elevation! Looking at the former lava flows from the summit, which extend into the sea, it is hard to imagine the incredible force with which this volcano blew its stack. The impact on the planet in that year of 1815 was a global climate change the following year which lowered temperatures as far away as the U.S. and Europe (Snow fell near London in August of that year.) Now, nearly 200 years later, the peninsula is forested over with lush vegetation and inhabited by monkeys, cattle, and goats, with an occasional village dotting the coastline.

I'm sitting in Tambora's shadow as I write this update. We are camping this evening on the shores of Pulau Moyo, a naturalist's dream. It is reassuring to know it is a national park with protected species of wildlife and reef systems. The island lies a few kilometers off the north shore of Sumbawa and we are sharing space with native deer, crab-eating macaques, wild pigs, snakes and monitor lizards.

In the next couple of days, we will arrive in Sumbawa Besar for a couple of days to restock with supplies before the next crossing toward Lombok. The trips into towns require a completely different mindset, so for the present, I shall relish the space I'm in at this moment in the shadow of gunung api, Tambora, or fire mountain.

Posted on August 22, 2005 10:57 AM