Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Frozen in time.....

Mount Vesuvius and its surroundings.
Things got worst. Many times the earth tremors but they just simply washed it off.  But this time, it was something else. Something different.  Something unthinkable ... terrible!  Many were in the state of panic but some just took it very lightly .... "Oooooo it will go, no worries!"  They just denied.  Some just took off and left their homes to somewhere safe.  But some insisted on staying back in their homes, and into their daily lives.  It was a chaos.  Babies shrieking, mothers crying, husbands calling wives , masters looking for their slaves and so on.  Thousands of people were running up and down the streets not knowing what to expect, not knowing where to go.  It had been dark pitch black for many days now.  The sun was not visible anymore.  What went wrong? Maybe the Gods were angry!  Maybe something that we did!  They prayed to Jupiter and they asked help from their God Apollo  or God Isis...... no answer.  They were on their own now!  Totally lost.

2,000 years ago, one of  the greatest empire known to the world, the Roman Empire were shaken to it's core by the natural disaster, eruption of a volcano.  It had been sleeping for 1,500 years and none of the people knew that the majestic looking mountain was actually a volcano.  It was in Naples and the town is Pompeii

@The fierce eruption that cost the lost of Pompeii.
It was 24th of August 79AD, Vesuvius came roaring to life!  Explosions happened, spewing tons of molten ash, pumice and sulfuric gas miles into the atmosphere with a supersonic speed.  Within minutes the column of smoke were visible from afar.  As it go higher, the columns started to spread like branches of a pine tree.  Nobody knew what it was.  The sighting triggered a response more of curiosity than of alarm.  The people of Pompeii did not know what it was and what was going to happen, so they just watch.  The wind blew towards Pompeii making the smoke and the ashes stole the daylight of Pompeii.  The cloud of ashes turned days into nights. They were in darkness, blacker and denser than any ordinary night. They relieved by lighting torchers and various kinds of lamp. Pompeii was in total darkness for 5 days.  Tons of falling debris filled the streets and in every nooks and corners.  Those who stayed in their home thought that their roof were strong enough to shelter them but was wrong.  The debris were so much that it was too heavy and the roof collapsed.  Nothing was spared. What was once a thriving communities, now silence and history.  Since that day Pompeii was buried for 1,600 years under 4 to 6 meters of ashes and pumice ...... vanished from the face of the earth until an excavation in 1748 AD.

@The excavation which awakened the world.
@The proud Vesuvius still standing
watching over the ruins of what was once
a city..... the ancient Pompeii
My earlier visit to Naples, I missed Pompeii.  I visited Island of Capri instead.  I wanted to see this place so much that I made it a point to visit this time ..... glad I did!  I remembered reading about Pompeii in a book written (the translation) in Bahasa Melayu by Harun Yahya, Kaum-kaum Yang Pupus (The Lost Civilisation). I watched the film ''Pompeii: The Last Day'' (2003 BBC production) and even got informations from watching National Geographic on television and even googled.  That shows how much interest I was to visit this place.  No doubt!

When I first set my feet in Pompeii, I was in mixed feelings. Happy and glad to be there but at the same time I felt sad and pity for the victims and furthermore through the Holy al-Quran, Allah SWT promised that whoever goes against His Will will be punished.  That sent a feeling of eerie and fear in me. 
The Entrance to City of Pompeii
Pompeii is an ancient Roman city.  It was said that the wealthy Romans built their big highly decorated villas there.  That was in the era of Pax-Romana.  No more wars.  No more conquering.  A time to enjoy the fruit of their hard work  centuries earlier.  They built  places for entertainment, sports like a gymnasium, fountains as their water system and  a port for trading.  As we approached the city, I noticed the cobbled-stoned streets.  The entrance was once the gate to enter the city from the port.  I imagined many people come and go through this street.  The sailors from near and afar, the locals who worked at the port, the buyers and the sellers doing their trading at the port.  It must have been a very busy port because  we were shown the trails of the wheels of the horse cart that was left on the streets.  This shows that the goods brought in and out of the port must be in large amount and many carts used the same trail.  Amazing!

Look at the trails made by the carts. That shows how prosper
Pompeii was those days.

We visited the House of Senate where leaders sat and discussed.  Further up was a square with an open area in the centre.  That was where they found the most stoned corpses after the excavation of the city by the archaeologists.  The four sides were situated the temples.  Believe it or not, even at that time, they already have a double storey building.  It was the Forum. The Forum was the economic, religious and political center of Pompeii.  On the right was the Temple of Jupiter and followed by the Temple of Apollo and Temple of Isis.  Further behind the square, lies the non-sleeping volcano, Mount Vesuvius.  It was so majestic, looks powerful but never trust her!  

@Temple of Apollo
@Temple of Isis
@Temple of Jupiter overlooking Vesuvius
We then walked around the ancient city and it is truly amazing to see what is still left from 2,000 years ago.  The market place with shops selling olive oil, household gadgets and many more, still intact.  Rows and rows of jars can be seen.  Their wheel barrow made of wood with  carvings is still there.  There were two corpses in the area.  One was sitting as if praying and the other was lying on the table.  

One of the many bakeries.

Then we proceed to the market place.  One of the building with paintings of fish is still there. must be the wet market.  The victims were now stoned, looked exactly like us.  One was with a row of healthy set of teeth.  Both were put in a glass case.  The market must be the busiest area of the city.  Many kinds of goods sold here because people from elsewhere brought goods from afar to do trading in Pompeii.  Because it was a port, many sailors come and go.  Some stayed for a while but some stayed for many months.  Another trade that made fast money was the prostitution.  At night the whore will be howling like a she wolf and those who wanted their services  followed the trail by listening to the howling .... a kind  of communication! By the way, prostitution was made legal  and were given license and that was why there were quite a number of whorehouses in the city. One of the high end was Lupanare, a two storey building with many small cubicle rooms for the walk-ins and ample space on the top floor for holding private parties!

Place of prostitution with  an erotic sign. @On the right is Lupanare, a high class whore house in the city.
It was even said, that it was expensive to keep a daughter at home because it will cost the parents to pay large amount of dowry to marry them.  So, the best option is to sell their daughters to the whorehouse!   I was sad but then realised that we should not put their situation in our world today.  I can understand now why during the Arab Jahilliah era (before Islam), newborn baby girls were buried alive.  Maybe because of the dowry .... who knows? That was their way of judging, their life!  They have their own reasons which to them was necessities but to us is cruel and totally madness!
Fast food corner..... maybe they sold  pizzas and pasta  here.

Looking at the buildings and the infrastructure of a 2,000 years old city, I can say that the Romans did well.  I was wondering how they managed everything.  They not only built but they have the system. The aqueduct that brings fresh water throughout the city, the forum for the rulers to run the city, the temples, the houses, the sculptures, the paintings and not forgetting their fast food corner and their public toilets, theatres, amphitheatre, hotels..... they have everything!  But in spite of everything that they have, they were unable read the earth movements beneath them nor to avoid the natural disaster!  It was right in front of them.  They were unprepared for the eruption of Mount Vesuvius eventhough many little signs of tremors and earthquakes happened.  So ignorance that they  just continue with their busy daily lives. sometimes wealth makes people overlook things.  The destruction not only occurred in Pompeii alone but the near towns as well.  Traces of victims were found in Herculaneum and Stabiae too. 

The murals showed how artistic the people of Pompeii were.
Public toilets where they sat side by side without
any dividers. Could they have done any business
talk while doing their business? hahhhaaa

We spent two hours in the ruin ancient city of Pompeii but I knew there were still many places that we missed.  Too many things to see, too many stories of life, pain and disaster to listen to but too little time.  I told myself that someday, when I come back, I will revisit.  Pompeii may be left as ruins but because of  this, it became famous.  Preserved under ash, Pompeii laid buried for 1,600 years.  The discovery of the city provided the world a glimpse of the daily life of the once known Roman Empire!

@The Roman Baths

Mount Vesuvius still stands and dominates the Bay of Naples. Around 20,000 inhabitants stayed in Pompeii before the eruption. It was known more or less 5,000  died.  Since then, there were no more eruptions of Mount Vesuvius but now at present 3.5 millions are staying there.  According to the experts, the next cycle of eruption will be after 2,000 years and the time is due ....

@The great theater.
Ruins of villas and mansions.
File:Villa Armira, the Mosaics 2.jpg
@The mosaic flooring shows how artistic and how wealthy the owner was.

@Ruins of the house of gladiators.
@The amphitheater for the gladiators. 

At the end of the tour, as I was leaving Pompeii, after walking for two hours uphills and downhills and looking at the luxurious life they led 2,000 years ago, I realized that nothing last forever.  No matter how strong, how well planned or how good you are .... you are just human.  Arrogance and pride belongs only to Allah, the merciful and the most compassionate.

  The way of life led by the people of Pompeii, goes against the words of Allah.  Even after thousands of years laid buried underground, untouched and well preserved ..... truth revealed.  It was a total humiliation seeing their sexual activities from the murals and painting and from the position of the corpses when found.  So shameful that those corpses in their sexual positions were brought back to the Museum and was shown for adults only.  Sexual activities took place almost everywhere may it be with the different sex, same sex or with animals!  Humiliation  even after death!  In maintaining a straight path in life, we need to have Khauf (fear) and Rajan (hope) towards Allah SWT.  Alhamdulillah, I am born a Muslim and I truly believe what happened to Pompeii is the fulfilling of the promised words of Allah SWT.

Napoli Cruise Terminal and our Norwegian Spirit on the right.
Walking around  visiting places in Napoli under the hot summer tires us. We sweat a lot.  Glad that we made the choice of wearing cotton.  Even though I was very tired, I enjoyed the trip because I was well prepared with loads of information regarding the ancient city of Pompeii.  I can easily visualized from my readings about this busy city when disaster striked.  It must have been very scary for them to see death approaching . It must be very sad to say goodbye to their love ones, their homes and their wealthy life!  That is the power of reading .... to be able to see through words.  But if you are not prepared , you will not enjoy and what you saw meant nothing.... just another visit ! It will be a total  waste.  Trust me!  

My references and sources besides side stories by our tour guide

We headed back to our floating hotel, the MV Norwegian Spirit which docked at the Napoli Cruise Terminal.  What a relief to see her there.  I was looking forward to go back to my 8020 stateroom to take a long cold shower to cool my body.  Our steward, Rhoderick surprised us with a rabbit figure from the towel foldings.  So sweet of him.  Got dressed up and off to dinner at The Windows Restaurant.  The rest of the Yunos's were already there.  We had a long chat about the places we visited.  We talked about our feelings and gave opinions.  There were so much to talk about.  After dinner, all of us went around looking  for our favourite kind of entertainment onboard.  May it be the pianist with songs from our era or maybe the irresistable Latin Express that made our body swayed to the music. Wow....I just love this vacation !

Our floating hotel.
Feeling belonging......heheheheh
Dinner is served!

It took me quite sometime to finish my story about Pompeii. Actually, we  visited Positano and Sorrento after Pompeii........ two of most beautiful picturesque places I have ever seen. I will share my experiences to those two places in my next blog with more  photographs.......mostly photographs! InsyaAllah.

Lastly, I would like to wish all of my Muslim readers, Happy Eid Mubarak..... Maaf Zahir dan Batin.

Goodbye Vesuvius. Good luck Pompeii.

"Buonanotte. Ci vediamo a Sorrento  e Positano!"