Mount Vesuvio

Mount Vesuvio offers what some call the best view of Naples but that to me was the least interesting detail.
I wasn't there for the view. I was there solely for this magnificent, destructive beast.

And gaze on the now quiet scene,

Calling to mind what once hath been,

When not the curious stranger here

Alone was walking, moved with fear

Of God, who can his power employ

Both to create and to destroy, -

Who can a world from darkness call,

Or hide one ‘neath a darker pall;

But when, through each close, crowded street,

Was hear the sound of hurried feet, 

As quicker, nearer, hither game

The cloud of ashes, whilst the flame 

of the high, burning, quaking mount, Bursting from out the fury fount, 

From whose wide sources, far below,

The flaming surges constantly flow,

Cast all abroad a dreadful blaze.

And now and then the piercing rays

The heart, ashen cloud illumed,

And upward still the mountain fumed.

- William Dix, excerpt from "Pompeii", 1848

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Childhood dreams, books and those instagram-made famous sites. I wish I didn't have to add the last one but it is what it is. Those are my top three reasons when it comes to creating my personal travel plan. Mind you, childhood dreams takes precedent so climbing Mount Vesuvio had to be. It was a must. A need. 

It was chilling, almost surreal to imagine the destruction it caused. The afternoon was cool and chilly and this dormant giant played host to a multitude of tourists, young and old. Still listed as an active volcano, scientists believe that it is a question of when and not if and that it will not be a kind act if it were to erupt. 

From the site of Pompeii, Mount Vesuvio looks calm and serene; almost gentle. It is masked like the perfect backdrop of a scene. But it only takes a second for you to look around Pompeii and think "if only" ...

A rather obnoxious young Englishman decided to pick up the largest chunk of Vesuvio he could find only to leave it half way down the hike because of it's weight. I too picked up a small piece of Vesuvio back with me, to remember its surreal and devastating self as well as to close a chapter on another dream; this one with mixed emotions. 

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I am not exaggerating when I say that I might have raced up mount vesuvio. It was like a personal mission for me. I knew I was going to get to the top. The only way is up after all. But adrenaline got the better of it. at 1, 281 m, it doesn't seem like much of a climb but it does get steep and as the cold wind sweeps by, that's when you realise you *might* be breathless. But yet, you don't stop because the thought of facing a volcano is far too exciting.

I stood at the mouth of Vesuvio, the crater, for a long time. I couldn't imagine what it had done. It wasn't an emotional reaction. It was just a sense of wonder without the admiration. All you see are rocks and possibly very fertile andisol. Deep within the crater, you could see greenery. To me, it looked like several small trees (I could be wrong). 

No matter the excitement, I think it's fair to prepare yourself to be underwhelmed. On Mount Vesuvio, I had to retain my composure and suppress this intense feeling of exuberance because I was not prepared for what I saw next:

volcanic steam at the crater rim. 

This stands highly as one of the crowning moments of my life. I remember wishing for Vesuvio to give us a little shake but immediately cast that thought away. I wanted to live and remember this moment and not be swallowed by the one who's tale I would tell.

People have placed small religious effigies and images for what I can only assume are offerings for protection against an eruption. Without lava and steam, Vesuvio is deceiving and looks like a rather safe volcano but it is considered to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world today and is monitored round the clock, all round the year. 

The descend is like sand surfing. After a certain point, you can't see Vesuvio. It leaves you behind. Or rather, you leave it behind. It becomes a memory sooner than you can think but the thrill, the exuberance (this is the only word I can use to describe my mood that day) doesn't go away. Clearly it wore me out because I slept throughout the journey back to Scafati.

I posted a picture on instagram with a caption along the lines of how I felt like a kid in a candy story. Sounds about right if you ask me.

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