Features Student's Story

Seeing Merapi’s “Cough” From Close Distance, Fortune or Misfortune?

"Eruption! Eruption! Come down quickly!" the souvenir vendors who stared at Mount Merapi, which was spewing hot clouds and black dust out, shouted.

The noon on March 11, 2023 was clear, and the day went well from early morning. There was not a single notification of bad weather or other potential natural disasters. Hence, the group of linguistic students from Sanata Dharma University and Hong Kong University and I headed to Mount Merapi to close our week with a Lava Tour.

The tour trip planned to cover four destinations started after we got into our jeeps. Everyone was still smiling excitedly at the thought of our trip, including me because it was my first time being near Mount Merapi. Athena and Aurora, two friends from Hong Kong University, and I enjoyed our first destination trip accompanied by our jeep driver who often joked with us.

Our first destination was the Kaliadem Bunker, the highest point ordinary tourists can visit. We closed the visit with taking a group photo. We finally got back into our jeeps after being urged to save time, and something strange happened at this point. The souvenir sellers and tourists who were below suddenly looked up and stared at Mount Merapi while pointing at it.

“Eruption!” a person next to me said abruptly. Athena, Aurora, and I immediately turned toward the mountain. Sure enough, from the left side of the mountain, thick black smoke could be seen rising into the sky.

The trip down the mountain was thrilling, especially after seeing many people flocking down the mountain. However, our jeep driver reassured us by saying that this eruption was a normal thing that happened at Mount Merapi. Even so, it was difficult for us to calm down because this was our first time going to a volcano, and we were immediately greeted with an eruption.

Even though there had been an eruption, our tour continued. However, we could not enjoy the second and third tour destinations properly since the hot clouds were getting higher and wider in reach. My two friends and I started to calm down after continuing our journey to the fourth destination, which was farther than the previous destinations.

Nevertheless, the eruption that we thought had stopped after a few minutes continued. The hot clouds continued to reappear several times more, even after we had completed all of the Lava Tour destinations. We then heard from our jeep driver that Magelang and its surroundings had been experiencing the hot ash rain, while Yogyakarta was hit by a scorching atmosphere during the midday.

When telling this, I wondered whether this incident was a fortune or misfortune to me. Yet on second thought, enjoying the view of Mount Merapi up close and still being able to go home safely even though we were constantly being chased by wary was a fortune. Not everyone could be that lucky to see the eruption of Mount Merapi up close on their first visit, right?


Author: Dulce Cicilia Sariri 

Editor: Yohana Satvika Wahyuveda, Ruth Tirza Arina (QC)

Illustrator: Angelita Dayang Diva

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