Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Ring of Fire. (Gunung Merapi gone quiet)

Note: aside from the title, Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire is hardly relevant to this post, but it is a great song!

I am from California, born and raised. It is funny to me when people talk about their obsession, their concerns, about earthquakes. I was here in 1989 when the Loma Prieta Quake hit, and was not emotionally affected. Still, upon arriving home, I saw a book case overturned, and other extreme damage in my parents' home. I remember bits of that day with clarity, and remember vividly the crowded streets, the parking lots filled with employees evacuated from their buildings at 5:07 in the afternoon.

I know it was not until I turned on th television that I began to realize what a horrible tragedy this quake was. Still, like me, many people remained unscarred by the event, despite my relative proximity to it. It is easy when no one close was hurt. Even in something as great as that quake, it is easy to create distance when most of the pain is on a television screen. As humans, we adapt quickly, and work hard to get everything operating as smoothly as possible.

These are the things which make many people say they would never live in California. Then, I see volcano eruptions across the world, and wonder why anyone would live close to a volcano. Even in the worst of natural disasters, there are many who sustain no damage to their property, to their families, to their health.

Already, two months after the initial explosions of Gunung Merapi, Yogyakarta is looking clean again, and I hear very beautiful. Still, I have read an estimate that as many as 325, 000 people have been displaced as a result of Merapi's month of activity. That is the population of a large city, forced to find new shelter.

So, this past week, a friend told me she would attend a wedding in Yogyakarta.. This was all fine for me, until she told me she was invited to hike Merapi! My jealousy surged. I still have not hiked a volcano, and this gets thrown in my face. It is okay. My day will come.

I am getting sidetracked here. I have heard that the government already has a "Lava Tour", and is charging money to explore areas that were free before.

Also, at the same site were people collecting money to help the people made homeless by the volcano.

I have heard of the resilience of the people that live in this "Ring of Fire", and I am certain that resilience actually is a credit to our whole species. Still, I hope that whatever losses have been suffered, that the people continue to find help, peace, and recovery.


Jenny Fletcher said...

...and did you give any donations to those people collecting for the homeless and displaced? You don't mention it.

You seem to be more annoyed that you can't hike for free in volcanic areas than the fact that very little has been done to help refugees from areas buried in ash or lava flows.

Had you considered that those areas might be restricted for your own safety? Or to ensure that the natural environment recovers and regenerates?

Keith said...

I doubt that for the charge (the price of a can of soda) that the government is doing much harm. I am not annoyed.

I perhaps should see if any reputable organization is doing good work there. You are right to make sur I do not make light of such a disaster.