It looks harmless from a distance but it’s an active volcano. Volcano Island, where its eruptions are concentrated, is in the middle of Taal Lake in the island of Luzon in the Philippines. A volcano within a lake within an island.
It seduces, flirts, “Come closer, get to know me.”
I succumb. I get on a half-hour boat ride across the lake to Volcano Island.
On the island, another half-hour by horseback up the mountain. Finally, the crater lake. Beyond the ridge, the surrounding Taal Lake is visible. Somehow it reminds me of an infinity pool.
Swim at your own risk. The water is dilute sulfuric acid with some nasty heavy metals thrown in. I pass.
There’s a small island within the crater lake called Vulcan Point. An island in a lake in a volcano in a lake in an island.
It’s quite a thrilling if ambivalent experience — being on top of the mountain, far from the hustle and bustle of the city, surrounded by the lake; at the same time being close to the edge, to the dark violence that can erupt anytime with nary a warning, cut off in an island. I can think of a few similar temptations.
Back on shore I admire Taal Volcano from a distance. It is captivating from afar, but I’ve also seen its dark side. Maybe I don’t have to choose one or the other, they’re just two parts of this thing called Taal, this volcano within a lake within an island.