Journey to Mount Pinatubo

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Early morning flight over Luzon to reach Manila, the Philippines’ capital city.

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(Following a long van ride to Capas, which I slept through), a bouncing jeep ride over barely-there dirt roads.

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A long hike through a dusty white canyon while the sun blazes overhead.

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A short walk under palms and past fern trees as green reclaims part of the volcanic land.

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The final bit of trail, for the last quarter mile, paved neatly in stone.

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All of which lead to this.

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Part of me wanted to title this post “The Most Beautiful Place in the Philippines,” but the truth is that gorgeous scenery is around nearly every corner of this island nation. For me, Mt. Pinatubo was simply the most unexpected beauty I’ve ever encountered. Liam had seen photos of Mount Pinatubo long before we arrived in the Philippines, and he was the one who suggested we visit. Lucky me, my first view of the place was in person.

Mount Pinatubo used to be just one of the hundreds of ordinary volcanoes that form part of the landscape in the Philippines — until it exploded in 1991 with devastating consequences. So this beauty you see, it’s beauty from ashes. The caldera of the erupted volcano collapsed into a wide crater, and after the monsoon rains poured down, that crater became the striking turquoise-blue crater lake visible in the pictures I took. There has been no photoshop done to these pictures, and no filter was used on my camera. In person, the lake is even more startlingly beautiful, even more intensely blue.

Wading into the water for a swim, I found the drop off deeper and more sudden than anything I’ve ever experienced elsewhere.The lake’s acidity, pH balance of the water, the possibility of volcanic activity (a legitimate concern among scientists) should have edged their way into my fears. Instead, as my tiny legs dangled down into the seemingly infinite blue, I thought about sea monsters. Anything seems possible in such an enchanting and silent space.

 

 

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