Just a few weeks ago a large earthquake killed over 6,000 people to the west of Yogyakarta (Jogja). The area is still dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake, and a major eruption could add more chaos.
What is the connection? Well, last summer I studied Javanese gamelan (a gong-drum ensemble) in Surakarta (Solo), just kilometers from Merapi. Jogja and Solo are historical court centers and have cultivated gamelan music for centuries. In part because of the forging process involved in creating the bronze instruments, gamelan ensembles are often linked conceptually to the mountains and volcanos that surround the cities.
Merapi threatened eruptions last summer, and you could seen the glow of the cone from my teacher's front porch. After the earthquake I did hear from several of my Javanese friends to say that they were unharmed &mdash my teacher said that his fence had been damaged and that he had a bruise from falling during the tremors. Hopefully the eruption will be small, as the scientists predict. My friends there are in my thoughts. When I find it, I will post my photo of Merapi as it looked last July &mdash the tell-tale plume of smoke drifting in the wind from the summit of the perfect cone top &mdash seen from the road between Solo and Jogja (you can see the location of both cities on the map at the BBC's 8 June video page).
Top photo by AP via BBC In Pictures.
More stuff, context, reminiscences: Well, after slogging about a bit on the Web, I thought I should add a couple more resources to this post. First, for some wonderful pictures, particularly this one of Jogja, from the JavaJive blog. And, ah, the food. Also, a wonderful satellite image of the volcano. Richard Lloyd Parry's (Times foreign correspondent) blog response. And, more info from the University of North Dakota.
Tags: Merapi, news, Java, photos