,The enormous crater is so close. Covered with yellow mineral, constantly emitting enormous amounts of smoke. It seems to be alive. Now I understand why locals believe in powers of the mountain. It has its own soul and its force cannot be compared to any human force. It is wild and gorgeous.,
Our moto breaks down on the first hill, right after passing thrugh the entrance of Semeru National Park. It is a small, automatic Honda Mio. She cannot take the weight of two quite big passengers with their heavy bags. Thick black smoke is coming out of the exhaust pipe and we cannot go any further. We are flabbergasted. Our three day trip around Semeru has not even started yet, and we have already lost our our only mean of transport. What do we do? F. is pacing around the dying motorbike. I sit by the side of the road, deciding to wait. WAITING is the best solution to any situation here, in Indonesia. Whatever happens, just wait. Wait until somebody offers his help. Wait until the vendor lowers his price. Wait for a bus, for a train, a ferry. Wait for people to do their meaningless jobs, just cause they believe they have to do so. Wait for the fruits to ripen. Wait for the rain season. Wait for the rain to stop. Wait until tomorrow, and the next day and the next. Wait until the problems solve themselves. Be patient.
After three minutes big Land Rover stops next to us. It is the lady who helped us before, when we were buying the tickets at the entrance. She offers her help once again. I will drive with her to the next village. F. is going to take the motorbike few kilometers down and leave it at the safe parking spot. He will join me later, hitch- hiking cars that go up. I take our bags and sit comfortably in the back of four by four car. It gracefully takes further bends. We drive the narrow road on the mountain edge. There are abysses on both sides, falling into the orderly fields. The fields are taking all of the space on the mountain slopes, continuing for miles and miles. Then, for one moment, they all become one rich green vegetating jungle. The emerald colour around me is intense and much different to the hot sticky green, so common in Indonesia. The air is fresh and pleasantly cool. When I reach a tiny village, it gets colder. I am high above the sea level and I can see the climate changed drastically. We stop by the square of dirt, with three small warungs around it. I want to be friendly and I am trying some pisang goreng. It is so oily and incredibly sweet, I almost feel sick.
Federico comes with a delivery truck. We buy water and some food. It is late and we have to rich Bromo before dark. We will cross all the valley from the other side of Bromo, to enjoy beautiful views and absence of tourists.
Our walk takes us few hours. When the bags become heavier and we reach the sea of dark sand, the truck with a group of Indonesians stops in front of us. It is already well after sunset, so we don’t hesitate when they offer their help in looking for a place to camp. They are group of young guys from Jakarta. We chat and joke on the back of their jeep, when going up the mountain behind Bromo. We camp few meters below the sunrise view point. It is a perfect spot. Our friends start cooking dinner and taking all their camping equipment out of their huge bags. Their tent is for ten people. We are invited to come inside and eat together. By the time we finish all the food, it gets really cold. They close the tent entrance and take out all their ‘party gadgets’. They have enormous amount of smoke and some homemade alcohol. We are drinking and talking until late. I decide to take a few hours sleep before the sunrise. I put all of my clothes on and cover myself with blankets but it is still unbelievably cold. It is the freezing mountain air that enters through your nose and fills your body with an icy chill. I cannot sleep.
We wake up when it is still dark. With all my clothes on I start a hike up. We meet other tourists. The sunrise is amazing. From the morning mist emerges eminent mount Bromo. I hold my breath, carefully, not to disrupt this incredible beauty…
After the breakfast we drive down, to the windy desert. We climb the volcano. The sand goes into our nostrils, eyes and mouths. At the top the sulfur smoke and the suffocating smell only lets us stay for a few minutes. The enormous crater is so close. Covered with yellow mineral, constantly emitting enormous amounts of smoke. It seems to be alive. Now I understand why locals believe in powers of the mountain. It has its own soul and its force cannot be compared to any human force. It is wild and gorgeous. Tengger tribe men are all around, proudly riding their horses. They look beautiful in this desert dust.
We take a car back to our starting point. The driver wants a hundred. Using our, perfectly mastered now, bargaining skills we come down to thirty. The car cannot go all the way, so we have 10km of a hike left. The road goes all the way up and we are exhausted when we rich the end. We lay down on the dried grass by the main asphalt road. After a short break we manage to hitch hike a car that goes to Ranu Pani. We plan to spend our lat night camping by the lake.
Ranu Pani is situated in a little village between the mountain. People here usually live from what they plant. We eat our dinner in the only warung here. All of if is literally covered with flies. We take a shower in a local mosque and prepare for our rest. The air is fresh and the thick fog above the lake is a sign, that this night won’t be warm either…
We wake up early. In the mountain it is easy, you just cannot wait until the first sun ray warms up, your frozen by the night, body. We take our bags and prepare for a long way down , back to our motorbike. We walk through the small villages and fields, greeting local people at their work since early morning. Small dusty road goes between the mountains, crawls up and falls down again. Children are coming back from school and farmers are carrying baskets full of plants for their stock. After one particularly steep approach we turn back and sigh in admiration. We are gazing at emerging mountain Semeru, gently disappearing behind the next coming cloud.
After that, we get lucky and the rest of the way we spend at the back of a truck. All is well, but we do not talk much, trying to embrace all that beauty we have seen during those days in Semeru…