NDE on Santiaguito
by Susana Raymundo
We camped behind a mountain that protected us from the crater but we could see and hear every eruption of Santiaguito, and it sounded like an airplane taking off at first, and trailed off into a steam train whistle.
The second day we woke up early – we could see an eruption and it was like a huge flame. Ash fell all around us and my friend and I decided to go to the edge of the crater. We passed the mountain that had protected us and walked towards the crater and found a part where the ground was covered in a very hot mud. We didn’t touch it with our hands because we thought it would burn us, but we eventually crossed that patch and the ground was a normal temperature again and we kept walking until we reached the crater.
We walked around the edge, looking at the volcanic rocks and at Santa Maria looming in the background. It’s like Santa Maria has taken a big bite out of Santiaguito, and seeing it up close made me think that one day the larger volcano would fall and cover the crater and Santiaguito would disappear completely.
We sat on the edge of the crater and I saw a little tornado and told my friend about it but he just looked at me and kept talking about nothing so I ignored him and decided to enjoy my time there alone.
Suddenly there was another eruption and it made me fall backwards like a cat. I looked at my friend and he just sat there as if nothing had happened so I started looking around for a rock to hide behind. When I found one and started towards it, my friend saw where I was going and started running. He yelled “run” and I tried to but I couldn’t – the pebbly, sandy ground slowed me down and I heard a voice inside me say “Oh, my head” and I looked around for a bigger rock that would give me better protection and while I was looking I saw a rock falling towards my friend and I couldn’t scream or even talk to warn him. At the last second he looked up and saw it and stepped out of its path.
I think I was in shock and I stood frozen, not speaking and my friend came back for me and yelled “come on, let’s go!” and it was like I woke up and started walking after him, but a little after leaving the crater my legs gave out and I fell to my knees, breathing hard. My friend was standing on the edge of the crater, arms aloft. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but he seemed to be challenging the volcano and I silently asked its forgiveness, for having invaded its space as I felt the sand and ash shower down on me and watched the rocks fall all around.