Volcano Child - A YA Novel in Progress by Candy Gourlay
Two weeks ago, Mouse decided to dig his way to London.

25 August 2006

Waiting for Calamity

Father once told me that animals knew when calamity was imminent. Dogs barked, roosters crowed, water buffalo abandoned their mud holes.

I glanced at Bowow, who lay flat on his back at the foot of Mouse’s mat, snoring, mouth open, paws limp in sleep. Ridiculous dog. No sign of calamity there.

Excerpt from Volcano Child

Albert Garcia's image of an eruptionAlbert Garcia emailed to wish me well with the website. He's the photojournalist who snapped the van escaping the pyroclastic flow. He apologised for the un-updated state of his website – "I've been away for a month photographing Mayon," he wrote in Tagalog,"just hoping I'd strike it lucky again!"

Oooh, Albert, be careful, man. Looking at that amazing pic of the van fleeing the eruption cloud, what you don't realise is that Albert was in the vehicle in front, hanging out of the back door, breathing sulfur and composing his shot, instead of whatever it is you're supposed to do when death is staring you in the face.

The volcano they were running away from is Mount Pinatubo. I based the eruption in my story on Pinatubo. But Pinatubo was not much to look at - in fact, now that it's erupted, Pinatubo is more a lake than a mountain. View slideshow

So I had to look elsewhere for a nicer looking volcano to describe and I chose Mayon. That's Pinatubo on the left (not quite sure which lump is the actual volcano). And that's postcard-perfect Mayon on the right in Per-Andre Hoffman's postcard perfect photo.

Pinatubo did not look like a volcano But Mayon was a postcard-perfect volcano. Photo by Andre-Per Hoffman

To tell you the truth, I had no idea Pinatubo was a volcano until it blew its top. Literally. It was a catastrophic eruption, one of the largest and most violent in the 20th century! The sort of thing you would see on those Extreme Volcano shows on cable TV. But more about Pinatubo later.

Strange coincidence that Mayon Volcano decided to wake up just as I was finishing my book.

Mayon is a busy volcano, erupting once every ten years which is plenty often – especially if you live on its slopes as up to 50,000 people do. It's not a Krakatoa but it makes up for it in its persistence. Here is a video of it huffing and puffing last July from MysteriousGreenEyes over at YouTube:

Beautiful but scary. You can also check out the news videos on the BBC. It didn't in fact erupt, but stones the size of cars flew out of the cone. Residents are this minute making their way home again fed up with living in uncomfortable evacuation centres, oh dear.

Living next to a volcano must be like having an unexploded timebomb in the next door bedroom.

Like living with a teenager really.

Joke only, as we say in the Philippines.

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Anonymous Bob Gardner said...


I'm looking forward to see how your blog and story evolves. I'm also a "fan" of volcanos, witches and things mysterious.

About Albert's amazing Pinatubo photo: I've seen it before and wondered if it was from a still or video. I'm glad to hear that he survived being at the wrong place at the right time.

Bob G.

Friday, 01 September, 2006  
Blogger mumatwork said...

Hi Bob, I first saw Albert's picture in a kid's book, 'Disaster Science', published by Klutz. 'Pinatubo and the Politics of Lahar' by Kelvin S. Rodolfo describes a video of a vehicle outrunning a pyroclastic flow:

"At that time, we found out later, PHIVOLCS volcanologists abandoned their watch-point near Botolan and videotaped the looming cloud from the back of their jeep as they fled. Pyroclastic flows have a temperature of several hundred degrees, and your first breath of the hot gas and dust will sear your lungs and kill you instantly. If you understand Tagalog and know that the scientists escaped, the soundtrack is hilarious; screams and curses and frantic pleas for more speed, the driver cursing back: his pedal was floored, and whore-mother, what more could he do? Fortunately, they were running downslope, and the pyroclastic flow stopped gaining on them when the jeep had accelerated to over a hundred kilometers per hour, jouncing madly down the unfinished mountain road."

I wonder if it is one and the same incident! Must email Albert and find out, that is, if he isn't down another crater looking for a good shot!

Friday, 01 September, 2006  

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