The thick indigo sky stretches expansively above. Silent, it remains motionless, cloudless and littered with stars. My watch says 4:27am. Cooped within a small arena, we are among 396 other people jostling for prime position at “Bromo’s Sunrise View Point” in Java’s East.
My sister Steff has come out to spend a few days with us in Indonesia and i’m really excited. This is my chance to show her a few things about what I do and what I try to achieve on my travels. It all sounds a little airy-fairy but for Steff to enjoy this experience would mean the world. Right now however, I look over at her, she is jittering from the cold, half asleep and her Canon D something-or-other is rubbing up against half a dozen others.
A good view always exceeds the boundaries of a fence so we saunter down to prowl the perimeter for an exit. Barbed wire stretches the entire length of the enclosure but there is a small sagging section. A small section neatly hidden from those who are not looking for it.
An easy escape.
One by one we scramble beneath the barbed fencing, all eager to escape the crowds and to do so as discreetly as possible; we don’t want the masses following. Emerging at a small clearing we huddle together on the scrap of dirt. At our feet the hillside plummets into a black abyss. We simply sit, savouring the breath of silence and a view all to ourselves and must now just wait for the change in light. What a reward for such a small detour.
The possessiveness of our new found plot is immediate. Other curious travellers who like us won’t be confined by the four walls find our sanctuary. My sister shushes at them to remain quiet in the hope that they will not attract others. I like that about her; she thinks like me. A few more people arrive and that’s her cue to leave the new found clearing. Without constraint Steff picks up her camera and traipses down the grassy embankment; she is off on detour to find her own view.
The deep, indigo sky has since softened in preparation for dawn and its stars once glittering now seem so restless, as if sensing their fading halo. Steff makes her final dash for prime sunrise position; leaning up against an old tree trunk. I cannot help but watch her engrossed behind her lens. I’m not a photographer, but she is. My eyes create words, hers create pictures. I watch her with her camera, constantly fine turing its results to create the most accurate of memories; A permanent image of the moment. I sit quietly behind her as she clicks away but what she couldn’t capture was my view; my permanent memory; the one with her in it.
The land remains dark; in silhouette, so too the trees, shielded from the new day for a little while longer. She rests her body against one to steady her hand. She too is in silhouette. In front of her, a sea of endless clouds rolls in distance, upon its crests sails a pastel haze; a clear divide between the new day and the night. It is a perfect moment that only becomes more exquisite when the sun pushes against the horizon and illuminates our surroundings. Before us, a desert crater appears, stretching as far as the endless sea. Within its grasp three vertiginous volcanoes are imprisoned. This is why we are here. Steff slowly turns back to me, her eyes aglow from adrenaline, the very same adrenaline I carry through my own travels and she smiles; a big mischievous childlike smile. I nod in agreement, this is awesome.