Mountain of surreal pain and beauty - Every volcano and mountain climbed in Indonesia is special in its own way and leaves behind long lasting memories. Gunung Merapi is definitely very different as it shows your life from the hardest perspective. Volcanoes can be spectacular because of their sheer size like Gunung Rinjani on Lombok or Gunung Semeru in East Java. Merapi can definitely not mach them in size but will give you a chance to think a step further in life. Witness how 400 of the world’s strongest and enduring people harvest 70-90 kg of sulfur out of toxic smoking fumes, then carry the load in two baskets on their shoulders up a steep, at times almost vertical 250-meter deep crater and then 3.8 km downhill to the collection point. Speechless, shocked, saddened and often on the edge of tears we were when watching this pour fellers carrying this immensely painful heavy load, one very slow step after the other up this seemingly endless hill. There was total silence on the hill which was only broken by heavy breading when passing one of this porters and there painful coughing when clearing their thoughts from the poisonous fumes of the volcano and there smoking of clove cigarettes. A cough that sounded to me more like a cray for help or a wakeup call to our way of life. A small block of sulfur from that very heartbreaking day on my desk remains me for the rest of my days, that stress is self-inflicted and what hard work really is. I honestly do not think that I never have worked hard.