Life in the (Ash) Clouds

Ever since the last eruption recently, I had been planning to write about our volcano, but through my natural inclination to procrastinate, plus other duties in my life, I kept putting it off. Since I will be going to the First Fiesta of Coffee and Chocolate today, I can no longer put this off.

I think my brain was also trying to tell me to get going by having me dream about the volcano in the early morning hours today – a dream in which I was in a hotel looking at the volcano with some other people. Strangely, I have been in this hotel before, but it is in New York overlooking a river. As we stood there, there was a massive explosion from the volcano with immense black ash clouds spewing from its crown, and instead of being afraid, I was annoyed that my camera battery had died, and I needed to find the extra battery. It all seemed so real that I woke up physically exhausted – and was even more exhausted after completing my morning 6-km walk after waking up.

So, without further ado, I will begin my article about our volcano…

No matter where you live on this Earth, you will have to live with imperfect weather. Sometimes you will need to be prepared for dangerous situations, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, etc., and sometimes just deal with uncomfortable weather, such as heat, cold and humidity.  My geography of choice is a volcano and earthquake zone.

First, a little education about volcanoes, which also touches on earthquakes, here:

There are two volcanoes within sight of Cofradía de Suchitlán, here in Colima State – the Volcano of Fire (active) and Volcano of Snow (inactive). As the article states, there are sensors in the area of the volcanoes to predict/monitor the activity. The civil defense organization here is very active regarding the safety of the people.

A few months ago, we visited some families right here in Cofradía whose lives had been impacted by natural events. I was told that their homes had been endangered by volcanic activity in their villages which were close to the volcano, and so the government had built them new homes in a safer area, and some of those home were built here.

Civil defense has a number of safeguards in potentially endangered villages – among those safeguards is a color-coded warning system – red light for evacuate, yellow for prepare, and green for safe. During one of my trips, I watched paramedics and civil defense personnel conduct educational demonstrations to a small village, teaching them what to do in case of a natural emergency.  They ran practice drills followed by explanations of what went wrong, then repeated the drills so that everyone would learn by experience what would be the safest way to behave. I was very impressed with their teaching techniques and knowledge.

When this latest eruption happened, the police and civil defense sprang into action, evacuating about 300 people and preventing people from going back in before it was safe to do so. The perimeter was set up 12 kilometers on the Colima side and 7.5 kilometers on the Jalisco side (the Colima volcano sits on the border between Jalisco and Colima states, with each state claiming ownership). Here in Cofradía we are safely about 15 kilometers from the volcano, but still experience some of the effects resulting from the ash and sulfur dioxide.

The ash is blown by the wind and covers everything where it lands. You can see it on cars and sweep it up from the floor. Looks like fine gray dust, but when you rub it between your fingers, it is gritty like fine sand, not at all like normal ash from burning paper.

When there is a significant amount of ash in the air, warnings are broadcasted not to go out, and people who must be in those areas, such as emergency workers or the people being evacuated, need to wear masks, otherwise it is like breathing in cement dust.

Does anyone remember talks about acid rain years ago? I am posting some pictures from our garden of damage that I was told was from the acid in the air – leaves turning yellow, damage to foliage. I only hope that the coffee plantation near the volcano did not sustain too much damage to  its coffee plants.

As you can probably tell, the volcano is a major focal point of life – from beautiful paintings and photographs to place names. Here in Cofradía we have the Ferretería los Volcanes (Volcano hardware store), the Panadería los Volcanes (Volcano bakery) and, of course, our Dos Volcanes agave spirits (it’s tequila, but when it’s made in Colima State, we’re not allowed to call it tequila – but that’s a story for another day.).

So please enjoy the following photographs, etc. and click on the link to an article and video below  of our Volcan de Fuego – much beloved and treated with respect…..


One thought on “Life in the (Ash) Clouds

  1. When we were in Hawaii four years ago, we visited the one live volcano on the Big Island. The guide (in his 70s or so) said he’d been all over the world and when it came to dangerous weather, he still preferred volcanoes to whatever else is out there. Perhaps familiarity makes it less scary, or perhaps it’s easier to outrun 😉

    Hawaii also has a Volcano Winery: good stuff.

    Anyway, glad to hear that the emergency-response people are on top of the situation.

    Liked by 1 person

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