A man named Herman Horst, aged 60, had a terrible form of Diabetes. He went to the island of Stromboli, climbed up to the top of the volcano - placed his wallet and glasses by a rock, and walked into the crater. Never to be seen again.

I went to the island of Stromboli.

Oh god! Oh god! she says,
falling to her feet atop the volcano.

It was the site of the movie and the excuse for the ensuing romance between Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini, with a backdrop of molten activity. The volcano, known as ‘The Lighthouse of the Mediterranean’ erupts all the time. I had only seen lava for years in my dreams.

It is 95 degrees outside. We begin the three hour walk up to the top of the volcano. I’ve never walked up a volcano. I’ve never walked up a Munro. This is as high and as hot as both. I fly into a panic. Smoke everywhere - more hot than almost ever before. I keep drinking gallons of water. They tell me not to. I am going to faint. We are half way up and I’ve had it - can’t even look at the top of the volcano - don’t even care about it at all because it is so steep I am sure I am going to fall off the mountain.

I can’t go on...I resist, I give up.

I begin to have visions. They will have to get a helicopter to take me off the volcano. I am in an extreme state of terror. I can’t move. I am holding onto once molten rock. Lava is flying out of the volcano and I can only look at my feet. A recurring dream - and you imagine you can rise to the occasion. I discover I can’t. I will never make it to the crater. You never know yourself in a situation until you are in it.

The sun goes down. It gets alot cooler. I can walk. We reach the crater. It is not something I should be allowed to see - the bowels of the earth. And all I can do is think about Herman Horst. I have to remind myself that you can’t just walk into the crater. Like when standing by a waterfall, you really have to remind yourself not to jump - not necessarily because you want to die - more because it seems to make sense to do it.