Baños Rumbles: Tungurahua, Part I
“Tungurahua” means “Throat of Fire” in Quichua.
On Sunday, November 27, 2011 around 5pm, Zach and I heard a distant rumbling that somehow, didn’t sound like thunder. We immediately looked up at the peak of Tungurahua, but it was shrouded in clouds. There was no doubt about it, though, the beast was awake.
We were living in our tent on a WWOOFing property on the edge of Baños closest to the volcano. The several miles that separated us somehow meaningless due to our direct line of sight with the 16,479 foot-high top and our location exactly on the line of any predicted lava flows. The remainder of the night was spent in a nervous frenzy, listening to continuous rumbling, watching streams of lava spew from the crater once the clouds cleared, pacing around the yard taking pictures, and venturing down the street to observe whether any of the locals were freaking out like we were. We did NOT get much sleep.A few notes from my journal that night: “We are standing in the garden watching lava flow from Mama Tungurahua’s merciless-looking mouth. It is probably the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” “Why do these things always happen at night? If it was daytime, I’d be on a bus out of here by now!” “What is God trying to say to me?” (I’d be surprised if I was the only one philosophizing on higher power while watching this.) “Taking the coolest pictures of my life is no fun when I’m scared my life is in DANGER.”
The next morning we found the townspeople totally unfazed, everyone assuring us that this happens quite frequently, and is nothing to worry about. We, nevertheless, were worried, at least about our inability to sleep during the ever-present rumbling. We headed to the bus station midday Monday and spent a couple days in the jungle sweating and hoping that Tungurahua would cool it (haha). Wednesday we faced the reality that we were just being wimps and couldn’t shirk our WWOOFing duties forever. Also, most of our stuff was still in Baños, and we wanted to have it in the event we really had to leave. As we walked back up the hill toward the volcano, the speeds of our heartbeats increased exponentially with the sounds of the volcano…