For those whose tastes extend to the linguistic Mozambique Island delivers its own dialectic morsel: Enahara. This vernacular – derived from Mahkuwa, the most widely spoken indigenous language in the country – is prevalent in Nampula province and centres on the nation’s former capital. Enahara is a coastal dialect which
Welcome to Madura Even in a country as complex as Indonesia, Pulau Madura remains shrouded in mystery. By rights the island should be a highlight of any trip through the region. It has an ideal location, perched off the east coast of Java and a stone’s throw away from Bali.
For those looking to escape the frenetic hustle and bustle of Dili, Atauro is the perfect getaway in Timor Leste. The rugged island, located to the north of the capital city, is of volcanic origin and fulfils the main criteria of the archetypal beach paradise: Golden beaches, bucolic pace of
As close to an entrance to Hell as most visitors will ever see, the Ijen Crater is a sulfuric lake spewing toxic fumes in Banyuwangi, Java.
The site itself is unerringly otherworldy but no less magnificent to behold. Giant fissures at the foot of the crater bilge forth great tendrils of foul-smelling gas, while glowing blue fire punctures the miasma.
Visitors are not to blame should they feel strangely discombobulated; a descent into the crater is not for the faint-hearted. The murk from the bilging smoke leaves a milky pall as ghostly figures form and dissipate in the blink of an eye. Faulty, aged gas masks make breathing a chore and offer no resistance should the wind bring with it a cloud of putrid fumes.
It’s a claustrophobic, cloying atmosphere made all the more surreal by the efforts of the sulfur miners. Their job, twice daily, is to excavate the cooled material and carry up to 90kg to the crater’s rim via precipitous, barely-there paths.
Their labour brings into sharp relief the effects of this extraordinary toil.
‘My back’s fucked, my knees are fucked, my shoulders are fucked,’ one man sighs resignedly, trudging off into the malevolent fog. His colleague moans in pain as a makeshift basket weighs heavily on his shoulders.
The rising sun bathes the crater in an ethereal glow, but by then the illusion is broken.
Kawah Ijen has become no more than some hellish toad and all of a sudden the rumours of paranormal activity seem much more plausible. Of particular note is the tale of the distant laugh from an unknown source as the miners carry out their Sisyphean task day after day, year after year, lifetime after lifetime.
(Editor’s note: You could always look at something prettier, you know)