The crater and the equator

Some joker decided that the morning after the night before was the ideal time for an 8am sight seeing departure.

(I can’t remember who it was – it may have been me – but needless to say we didn’t quite depart at 8am. We had to have our coffee and pancakes first.)

Eventually we made it on the bus to the crater – the name escapes me at present, it may be called Pululuau – but it wasn’t long before the illness began to manifest.

(I would like to say at this point I really don’t believe it was a hangover, or travel sickness, most likely a virus)

But still, one of our number was a little sick. So we decamped to a café, before catching another bus on our way.

The rest of the morning passed without incident. The volcanic crater was stunning, a glorious vista of farmlands far below, swathed in circles of misty cloud.

The descent was gorgeous, if a little difficult (both Pippa and Alex ended up on their backsides) but thoroughly enjoyable. We must have scrambled down for an hour.

Soon we’d arrived at a lovely hostel in the valley and were tucking into a lunch of soup, chicken and vegetables and chocolate cake.

And there our day decided to become a little weird.

It was clear there was no way our little trooper – still feeling terrible – was going to make it back up the crater.

“No worries,” we thought.

“Let’s go chat up the owner. Offer him a bit of cash. Maybe he’ll drive us out.”

An unbelievably uncomfortable discussion ensued.

Pippa and I, wearing our nicest smiles, took our invalid into the hostel and began to communicate our dilemna.

The owner, let’s just call him Boris (he looked like a Boris) began barking all manner of questions at her – doing his best impression of the Spanish inquisition.

It all became a little intense for someone who has not stopped being sick.

Eventually I interrupted (his English was immaculate)

“Please could you drive us out,” I pleaded, smiling desperately.

“We’ll obviously pay you, you know, for your petrol and so on.”

“You won’t just pay for the petrol,” he snapped, before naming a princely sum.

And so we paid. And I had to bite my tongue to resist asking the exact astronomical nature of his profit margin on our friend’s illness.

A mildly uncomfortable journey.

Still, we ventured to the nearby equator where we were very mature and definitely did not use the giant north, south, east and west initials to spell out rude words.

Our friend was valiant throughout – even after we left her briefly in a café and her ‘suspicious’ behaviour sparked a full-on security alert (for which a translator was summoned, much to her horror)

We ultimately decided that was the point to do what we do best – and we went home for coffee and cake.

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