This might be the last photo I ever take. I'm shooting Anak Krakatau volcano, but it's more like it is shooting me. I hide behind my camera and chase away thoughts that any moment now a half molten lava rock, catapulted from the depths of the majestic and deadly crater, will pulverize me and I'll die a foolish yet romantic death. Sharp pumice stone – old broken magma, digs into my backside, and now I'm on to scrutinizing my attire – white shorts are hardly an appropriate wardrobe choice for staking out a volcano. I think about the charcoal black beach surrounding the island when the red glow I do not dare take my eyes off intensifies and finally a spray of sparks and then a fountain of flaming boulders spews into the sky, makes an impressive arch, and hurls red hot fireballs right at me. My heart skips a beat as I watch them fall and roll down the slope.
We spend two hours after sunset sitting on the edge of Krakatau, the old crater, watching its child (Anak = child) grow with every eruption like a termite mound, and came back before sunrise to ooh and aah at it some more. Sunrise turned out to be the best time to truly witness Krakatau in all its raging glory. During the day the acidic thick gray smoke is an impressive sight on its own, and during the night angry red jets of fire are a striking spectacle like no other, but during that time in between there is just enough light to see both the smoke and the eruption itself.
This is not my first volcano and I hope it's not my last. I've seen the red fury with which our earth boils and smelled its vinegary breath. I've come close enough to be swallowed and walked away just in time to be back again. It's worth it.