What It’s Like to Visit an Active Volcano
I’m on a ferry, the Pincoya. It’s midnight, and we’re chugging along off the coast of Chile at the nautical equivalent of a blistering 8 miles per hour. The Pincoya is a working ferry. Passengers are an afterthought. I’m in a square-ish, wood-paneled room jammed with airplane seats set so close together, there’s less leg room than a commuter jet. The cabin is bright, noisy. A wall-mounted television blares 80s Spanish-language music videos. I don’t know the words, but I recognize the hair. It’s like a party. Everyone seems to know everyone else. Everyone is speaking Spanish but me.
My Lonely Planet guidebook advises there’s no food or beverage service, so I have a large bottle of agua sin gas and some snacks for my breakfast crammed into my backpack between my feet. Breakfast, because aside from the occasional stroll on deck or a trip to the head, I’m going to spend the next 13 hours in this chair. This after an 11-hour red-eye from Detroit to Santiago the previous night. All told, it will take 33 hours to travel 7,000 miles.
My destination: Chaitén Volcano in Northern Patagonia, Chile. My purpose: researching the setting for my next novel.
[READ the rest]