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So I kinda climbed a volcano

And nearly lost my life in the process...

Yesterday didn't look like a very promising day, when I woke up at 6:30 it was pouring like cats and dogs...in a way I almost hoped that it would continue to rain and that our excursion would be cancelled. The entire time we've been on this trip, it has been non-stop go with class and excursions and you typically don't get any time to yourself. At the end of each day when you come home to eat with the family, of course they want to talk to you about your day and what you did, etc (this is typical of course, not out of the ordinary) but what is straining is that after a long day of physical and mental exercise (talking in french and hiking for 4-5 hours) you just want to shut down. I feel bad because although I want to talk to my host family after dinner and wind down, I just need to speak in English, catch up with some friends online and oh yea possibly do some homework somewhere inbetween all of this. When I come home I'll probably just sleep for a few days to recoop...

Ok soooo anyway we did end up going on the excursion and the day was mapped out so that we would climb Mt. Pelee in St. Pierre, Martinique which is a volcano that erupted in 1902 and 1929. Before the first eruption there were 30,000 people living in the town and it was the original capitol of the island. This location was booooming with trade and crafts, it was the most advanced area on the island and the port was a wonderful location for trade ships to go to and from France with goods (horses, coffee, sugar, rhum, etc).

St. Pierre is located on the west coast of Martinique towards the North right on the water...

Our first stop yesterday was at the city limits to look at a tree that survived the volcanic eruption. A lot of people thought that the tree was extremely strong and just survived the ashes, etc...but after research was done they shared that this tree was just far enough away that the eruption JUST missed it. It was a huge tree though. Looked kinda like the tree from the Lion King movie.

Here is an image of the town and look a rainbow. The rain had been going on and off all day long and God was kind enough to give us this lil' present :)IMG_6170.jpg

Unfortunately it started raining again and to hold off on climbing the volcano we went to visit a rhum distillery. It was pouring down rain outside but it was pretty cool to see all of the barrels of rhum fermenting in storage. Since this time of year is their wet season, they use this time to do repairs on the distilleries. Unfortunately the production of rhum in Martinique has gone down considerably with the economy recently and there are only a few that are still up and running.

Allison and I got a little thirsty while we were in there...
we couldn't help it...and the barrell was empty but it had been filled with rhum at one point, the smell still resonated inside.

Following the visit to the distillery we actually went down into the town of St. Pierre and looked around at some of the ruins. The story of the town was that a lot of people had evacuated to save their lives, but it was election day and the mayor who was extremely focused on winning went back to the town and told everyone that it was ok. People returned to the town and as I said earlier 30,000 people lost their lives and there were only two survivors (that they have recorded). We visited the ruins of one of the churches and it was crazy to see how the rocks had been moved. So surreal to be somewhere that had so much history. One of the girls on my trip said that you couldn't pay her to live in that town now!

Then we went visited an old theatre, but the best part was visiting the prison...why would the prison be cool to visit? I mean it's just a prison, right? Welllll this prison was super special because of the two survivors that they found after the eruption, one of them was a prisoner. His jail cell was sealed so tightly that the gas and ashes couldn't make their way into the cell except for in small portions. He survived for 4 days after the eruption without food and only drank water that dripped into his cell through cracks in the walls and ceilings. Saved by a priest from France, this prisoner became absolutely famous. His skin was scarred with burns all over his body but miraculously he made it through...

This was the cell that saved his life...

After this we grabbed a bite to eat at a local restaurant where I had the best fish evvvvver (it was nice that this time the eyeballs weren't on the fish) and it continued to downpour for another hour or so. We tried to wait until the rain stopped so we could climb the volcano, but either way we were going to be screwed. This volcano climbing wasn't a walk in the park by any means. The trail started off fairly nice, but only got worse and worse the further we went up. In combination with the rain and the steepness of the climb, I really wish I had had my climbing shoes, harness, ropes, etc...to be honest, this climb was extremely dangerous and a good amount of people on this trip are not the most athletic. I loved it, but the liability was crazy...now I know why the unversity made us sign a contract to not sue them if anything happened to us while on the trip. People were falling all of the place trying to hold onto anything that they could while we were climbing. There was moss covering almost every inch of the rocks and your foot placement had to be very specific to ensure that you wouldn't fall. I'd like to say that my experience with rock climbing helped, but it was still even hard for me. Without the appropriate gear, I can't see why they would think this was a good idea for anyone. Sadly we climbed as high as we could but with the combination of the pouring rain and the time getting closer and closer to 6 we had to cut our journey short :( I wish we could have gone on a day that the view would have been better because with all of the clouds and the rain you couldn't even see volcano 20 feet in front of you. At one point I thought we had reached the top and then we walked as I said 20 more feet and I saw a huge mountain in front of me...so yea it was totally crazy, but I'm glad to say that I did it! Maybe I'll come back to Martinique again one day and conquer Mt. Pelee for real!
Notice how you can't even see the volcano in because of the fog...it was crazy!

Here's a marker point that I snapped a photo at...IMG_6237.jpg

In the midst of trying not to die while I was climbing and the continuous rain, I wasn't able to take photos of the really dangerous parts of the climb, maybe someone else on the trip was able to snap a shot (some people brought water proof cameras) I'll keep an eye of for some of them if I can come across any.

The day ended well with a wonderful view of the sunset on the water while we were taking our hour long bus ride home. I am extremely proud of myself and my fellow classmates for completely this task. This experience is something that we shared together and that nobody else will ever understand. My life long journey of traveling has only just begun and I cannot wait to see where else it takes me. I thank all of you who have been supportive of me to follow my dreams.


Posted by agawel17 06:36

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