(For Demotix, The home of World-Leading Photojournalism )
It was 03.30am and I walked along with the miner who carry his empty bamboo basket for another 3 km to reach Ijen’s summit. The road was hard walking and climbing. I have to let my bad leg to take a rest many time :(
After 1, 5 hours walking ( for sure the miner already left me away behind ) I was welcomed by a breath taking view : the lake resting in the heart of the mountain. Oww... another one kilometer of challenging walking and scrambling from the crown of the volcano to the lake.
I couldn’t get down because there is a sign warn before about the toxic gas during this rain season. I saw some miners going down. The path is steep, rocky and dangerous. Some of them have masks, others have proper boots. But most didn’t carry the necessary equipment. They disappear right into the smoke.
One hour later.
Pak Supri is his name, 31 years old and has been 3 years as a sulfur miner. He must carry loads ranging in weight from 60 to 80 kilograms to the entire 1 kilometers back plus 3 km. For each kilogram of hardened yellow sulfur, the miners get 925 IDR. Some are able to do this trip twice in a day, and only a few are able to make it three times. On the second trip they will get 1000 IDR per kg.
I follow him back. Sometimes I could hear his coughs, ( who can stand after one hour without sufficient oxygen for breathing down there and moreover the smoke is extremely toxic). Many of the workers suffer terrible injuries on their back and shoulders, he said.
My eyes was watery, for sure not because the smoke.
Bondowoso, February 20, 2015