Today was always going to be The Big Day. The wrestling with a volcano day. The subterfuge and clandestine operations day. The up for 36 hours day. We all knew it was coming, by all accounts it was already in the books, done deal. Then it wasn’t. The thing about volcanos is that they don’t care about your 36 hours, your plans, or your books. Volcanos, well they DGAF, and since by my count we didn’t have any virgins to throw down that throat filled with molten lava and weeping with brimstone, we had absolutely no cards to play. I mean, had we known, we may have gotten onto the World Wide Web before the trip and tried to find a couple of discount virgins, but then I think that presents a whole host of additional problems (logistical and ethical) that probably would have forestalled our getting to the volcano in the first place.
Basically, dealing with volcanos is a catch-22. You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t.
So it was that we found ourselves talking to Daniel Ruiz, Professional Climatologist and Colombian local. In between taking quick short breaths and gulping in the wondrous beauty of the Paramo, we spilled our guts and laid out the plan to take the legendary forbidden road around The Volcano. If I were to distill Daniel’s response down to four words, they would be: that’s a bad idea. Turns out The Volcano has been barfing ash on to this legendary road for the better part of three months and the most recent measurements show the road under three feet of ash. Ash, as you may well know, is bad for you. Bad for your lungs, bad for your pores, bad for your bicycle, bad for wayfinding (think about how hard it is to follow a trail buried under three feet of snow), and just an all-around bad idea. The thing is, this Daniel, scientist Daniel, came across as a really down dude. The illegal passage bit didn’t bother him at all, in fact he seemed supportive of the idea. We put our trust in his judgement, the alternative to which probably being a long, arduous and ultimately unsuccessful struggle in a volcanic nightmare resulting in lifelong respiratory complications. Best laid plans. RIP.