It is late September 2017. I’m lying comfortably in a chair on the terrace reading a book. "Après nous, the Penguins," an apocalypse novel. Boom! The tiles below me are moving, the wooden roof construction wobbles and groans. A hard blow, like from a huge fist, shook our village. Not for the first time today. Our fat neighbour, volcano Mount Agung, is palpably in a bad mood. The experts say that tons of magma are forcing their way through the earth under the volcano. Not exactly reassuring, but still an explanation.
Our neighbour Jonny disagrees. "I have seen a priest on Facebook, saying that the god is angry because his holy mountain is treated so disrespectfully, tourists urinate on it, have sex on it, menstruating women are climbing it, such things, and then they even steal its sand."
The latter is true. I have seen the endless convoys of trucks that are struggling to pass the neighbouring village day by day. Where they are carrying the sand from the northern flanks of the Mount Agung, we don’t know. The grapevine has it that from the Saudi sheikhs to the Javanese Mafia everyone is taking profit from the sands of the sacred mountain. Only the local inhabitants go empty.
Boom! The next earth bump. I hear Made, Jonny's wife, screaming aloud. Not for the first time today as well. Yesterday, she said to me, "I just have to shout loudly when I’m getting frightened. Afterwards I feel fine again. But if I suppress my fear without screaming, I get heart problems." I wish I had such a simple means to soothe my fluttering nerves.
In our village, we are safe, should the volcano really erupt. Highly ranked officials from the Government told us: The Amed region is safe. They even bring evacuees here from the north, who built their houses in less secure areas. A real refugee camp already exists in our village. There! We’re safe.
Boom, boom! The earth trembles twice. Sighing, I lay aside my book. Maybe I should read something else. And sleep outside in the Bale tonight.