It was raining so hard, the sea had gone flat and had turned a milky white colour due to the vast amount of water droplets hitting the sea and bouncing out again. An amazing sight.
We called in at a village and walked along the only narrow street, saying hi to the shy inhabitants. Brunch was a fresh coconut, chopped off the tree, to order :) the guy even made us spoons out of the husk, to scoop out the lovely fleshy inner.. yum.. Then the local pig came along and ate the leftovers - now that's 'Green' dining!
My highlight was landing on an uninhabited island (save for a temporary fisherman's hut) my guide Juspil took me out for a swim in the rain, round to a sea cave. We climbed up the side and onto a ridge running up to the summit of this steep island. It was exhilarating to be running barefoot, wearing only swimming shorts, in the pouring (but warm!) rain, with lightning flashing overhead through the edge of jungle, onto a rocky summit. Then plunging down, half running half sliding through thick black soil, picking up nipping red ants, before plunging back into the warm sea to wash. Excellent!!
On island number 3, our boat man left us for the night. We set up camp behind a kind family's house (the beach) and found the tiniest restaurant, actually someone's front room. It was funny to see half the village filing past to get a glimpse of me. My guide translated one lady's comment after seeing me: 'I thought they were white, but this one's pink!'.
In the morning we hitched a lift back to Siau on the boat which takes the fish to market. It was great to see all the small fishing boats approaching our boat with their nights' catch. Ladies on our boat would count all the fish into bins, while much banter and laughter ensued. I would have loved to have know what they were talking about..
Unfortunately throughout this 2 day odyssey it was raining really hard, or was so humid that my camera lenses kept misting up - so no photos! But sometimes the best memories are kept within.. :)
My friendly local guide, Juspil, took me walking up the flanks of Karangetang, the large volcano which dominates the island. Many local people will look at you like you're crazy, as the island has frequent eruptions, some creating lava, mud and hot ash flows which have ploughed through villages and the main town in the past. The island has been evacuated more than once.
The journey up involves an exhilarating motorbike ride up narrow paths, through villages and into jungle. Then an hour or so slipping and sweating upwards through dense foliage, before reaching the first lava fields. I had at first considered doing this alone, but would have really struggled to find the right paths upwards and also within the jungle.
The lava fields reach down in long swathes, and their surface is made of loose crumbly rock, so good footwear is essential! As is plenty of water - I drank 3 litres in as many hours. Fortunately as you ascend, the air becomes cooler, so in fact you may need warmer clothing higher up. Unfortunately during our walk the cloud descended, and my guide decided the summit was too dangerous anyway, so our walk finished at a large boulder, recently ejected. Still, it was an excellent experience!