I live beside an active volcano.

Yes. And recently, Mount Merapi has been quite active. So active that officials are evacuating residents who live by the slopes. Early this morning, they flagged Mount Merapi as a red alert, meaning that it could erupt at any time. A recent article in the Jakarta Post gives some nice details.

“Merapi volcano spews smoke, taken from Umbul Harjo village in Sleman, Yogyakarta on early October 26, 2010. Indonesia ordered thousands of people to evacuate from around Mount Merapi on October 25 as it raised the alert for its most active volcano to red, warning of a possible imminent eruption. (Xinhua/AFP)” (Taken from: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-10/26/c_13576072.htm)

We learned in class that there is a man, who has “ilmu tinggi” (lit. ‘science high’, but when put together, it means “supernatural powers”), and he lives on the slopes. This man is deigned with powers to know about where and when and how Mount Merapi could erupt, and he consulted by the Sultan about these issues. We heard that at one point, something like how it is now, when official scientists warned everyone about an imminent eruption, the guy with ‘ilmu tinggi’ stayed behind because from he knew that Merapi would not explode. And it was just that: Mount Merapi didn’t explode. I wonder what Mr. Ilmu Tinggi is thinking right now.

While I don’t live on the slopes, an eruption could consequently cause an earthquake, which could then affect many others living around Yogyakarta. My roommate and I, as we live on the 2nd floor of a duplex type apartment, we leave the door open on the top floor in case we need to run down the stairs and get out of the building, fast. Basically, when you feel an earthquake, I learned that you need to get out of the building as fast  as you can, in case it collapses. If you can’t get out, try to stand in a door frame, or some structure that might allow you not to get crushed.

In my second week in Yogya, I felt my first earthquake. I was living at that time in a kos, a boarding house for girls, and my room was on the ground floor. Even so, the earthquake was strong enough to shake me awake. It really felt like the earth was quaking, and I was dancing along with the earth. Anyways, I was all confused because I didn’t realize at first what the movement was about, and then I was WIDE AWAKE because I knew I had to get out of my room. Then, I had a brief moment of panic because I was sleeping naked, and I couldn’t really run outside naked, I decided. (Nudity is just not a thing here; in the changing room at the pool, women shower with their bathing suits or all their clothes on, and then there are separate stalls to change into/out of your bathing suit; there isn’t really a place where you can just change, you have to change in the stalls. Plus, I’m already stared at enough everyday, so I don’t need to have more staring).  So after grabbing a t-shirt and throwing that on, I finally got outside of my room, and all the other girls from the boarding house were already outside, and talking about the earthquake…What I found interesting is that they were just as scared as I was, but they have grown up experiencing the occasional earthquake.

And the important lesson: I know to just grab my sheet off of my bed and run, because putting on the t-shirt takes way too long, and I could be crushed because of modesty…

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2 comments on “I live beside an active volcano.

  1. amanda says:

    ok, I’m pretty sure a whoooooooole lot of people would back me up on this, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO GET CRUSHED! Got it? Ok!
    I owe you an email but it will probably come post-this weekend (heading to TO), XOXOXO Amanda

  2. sashasnotebook says:

    good post, and I’ve been just reading about the mountain and wondering how close it was to where you live. But then I figured that the most danger is in the villages on the slopes probably. I didn’t think of an earthquake.

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