Thursday, May 10, 2007

5 May - part 2: the most dangerous post office in the world

And so my driver, guide, a friend and I set off across roads that, if upgraded, might reach farm track standard, through lush green rainforest, up steep, treacherous hills, past tiny hamlets inhabited by smiling children wearing Chelsea shirts (they get everywhere) and avoiding the odd stray pig (they’re very important with both financial and societal value). Eventually, after fifty minutes or so, the road became black with volcanic sand - I suspect that this was actually the road itself - and we reached the ash plain, which resembles nothing more or less than a desert in dark grey, with Mount Yasur looming as ominously as anything only 361 metres tall can, and I must say that I’ve stood in the foothills of Mount Aconcagua on the Argentina/Chile border and was equally impressed with this.

We drove up the slopes to the point where the road ended and I set off on foot with my guide for the last, arduous, 200 yards or so. Climbing uphill on sand is quite tricky, but we made it up to the final ridge to be greeted by the sight of molten lava being hurled out of the crater onto the path in front of us (well in front, I should emphasise). Having recovered our collective nerve (and I note that our driver and his friend were staying well clear…), I strolled nonchalantly up the ridge, taking photographs and staying well away from the edge (note to self: must change the beneficiary on my life insurance policy from Rachelle…) and enjoyed a stunning view.

Mount Yasur is supposedly the world’s most accessible volcano but is probably equally famous for its post office. From here, when the post office is open, you can send slightly singed postcards anywhere in the world. Where else could you walk past a sign that tells you that you enter the post office at your own risk?

But it was time to head back to Tanna for my scheduled 3.20 p.m. flight. So, back down the mountain and through the forests of Tanna, this time picking up passengers on the way. The sun shone, the sky was blue, all was going swimmingly at last. And then I got back to the airport…

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