Under Volcanoes – Instagram @colindecosta
A small boy sits cross legged on the grass among the other kids surrounded by the ancient worn volcanic remnants that are the Warrumbungle mountains deep in the Australian bush. He is transfixed as a movie screen flickers and blazes in the night with images of Iceland’s Surtesy volcano. The boy watches as the volcano, like an undersea dragon builds its own world. The ocean bubbles and boils as the dragon creates and destroys a new island, the volcano is malevolent and hidden. It is the beginning of a lifetime love of lava, the dorment mountains and the dragon within.
Pagi pagi (early morning) in Kuta is usually unusually calm for Kuta. Its always a bit hazy, smoky and surprisingly cool and amazingly quiet. The streets and gangs are empty and the dogs sleep out on the bitumen roads soaking up yesterday’s warmth. The Balinese are up but quietly tending to their pre workday tasks of kids, food, prayers. The ocean is silver gray, shaded from the rising sun by a hidden giant, Agung. Her unseen brooding presence can be felt in everything that happens in Bali. Offerings, rituals, devotions and prayers are directed up towards her closer to God summit. Out in the water the swells arrive with an Indian Ocean rhythm, those pulses, steady, regular and with pace. The mountain shows herself sometimes but rarely fully and she is mostly shrouded and so his curiosity is never sated.
Over the years he sees her and other dragons, Renjani more massive, broad and with her crescent apex, Sinabung from the a plane on the way to Nias, Raung the holiday destroyer. None compare to the mother mountain Gunung Agung. Time and again for over 25 years he comes back to Bali, the deference and reverance towards her by the Balinese is fascinating, his own morning ritual, the walk to the ocean and a glance inland and upward and sometimes he sits up on his surfboard between sets to marvel her. He takes his son up the slopes of her neighbor Batur to watch the sun greet her.
The boy now almost an old man again admires the sleeping dragon. Still rarely he sees her, mysterious and brooding in the cloud but today shes exposed. The old man paddles in from a last surf before his flight home and pauses to gaze at her enormity. She is the creator of this place and the giver and taker of everything here and he wonders when his obsession will subside. He knows its not yet, her beauty and threats and the dragon within mean the little boy will be back. She’s calling and it’s under volcanoes he answers.