HOW NOT TO BE A TYPICAL TOURIST: VISIT MONTSERRAT

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Montserrat.

What? Where? Who? 

Yeah, yeah, Montserrat. I just spent a few days of my spring break vacation there. You know it, it’s that little Caribbean island just a few miles from Antigua. The one with the volcano.

I’ve never heard of a Montserrat (or “I’ve heard of that Montserrat in Spain – is that what you’re talking about?”). 

No, no, no. Montserrat is a U.K. territory. You need to take a small plane or ferry to get over there for Antigua. It has about 5,000 people and black sand beaches. It’s former capital city was destroyed by the ongoing volcanic eruption there so at least half the island is closed off to anyone. It’s awesome, it’s beautiful and it’s not Antigua.

That's me at the FIFA-funded field for Montserrat's National Football program

That’s me at the FIFA-funded field for Montserrat’s National Football program

(Author’s note: I found out soon after posting this story of a tragic passing of a local Montserratian legend, Jackie Fiyah. Please scroll to the bottom of story for the addendum)

This sums up most of the interactions I’ve had with people upon return from my early spring vacation in the last couple of weeks. Breeah and I spent nine days total spread across different areas of Antigua and Montserrat. Antigua (and Barbuda, which actually lies further from Antigua than Montserrat) is also tied to England, as a former U.K. territory itself, it regularly hosts ex-pats from the British Isles and maintains historic Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, the former British Naval Base in English Harbour (southeast Antigua).

A sign welcoming visitors to Montserrat at the ferry terminal at Little Bay (we came via plane, however)

A sign welcoming visitors to Montserrat at the ferry terminal at Little Bay (we came via plane, however)

After spending time on both islands, though, I can easily conclude that Antigua is for tourists/vacationers and Montserrat is for travelers. Yes, there is quite a big difference in those distinctions.

Cannons overlooking Carr's Bay

Cannons overlooking Carr’s Bay

Breeah and I roughed it in Antigua. We didn’t stay at any fancy resorts. Our first hotel was literally right outside the airport takeoff and landing zone (which would periodically shake the room throughout the evening). Our second hotel was near the Sandals resort, but decidedly wasn’t the Sandals resort (it was the cheery and low key Buccaneer Beach Club). We rented a car and hit nearly every corner of the island and passed through every Parish. We definitely strayed from tourist traps (though we still got caught in one, which I’ll explain in a separate post). Still, you can’t help feeling like your there with a large group of non-locals (a mix of Americans, Brits and Europeans) and that the true culture of Antigua is lost. Don’t get me wrong, the natural beauty is profound, the locals were mostly friendly, helpful and interested, but I felt I could have been at any beautiful Caribbean island.

A collection of stuff salvaged from Montserrat, mostly from the Plymouth area

A collection of stuff salvaged from Montserrat, mostly from the Plymouth area. The monkey was from a popular dive shop that closed recently.

I didn’t get that sense in Montserrat. Truly undeveloped (or underdeveloped), I hope it stays that way for as long as possible. The territory has been rebuilding ever since the Soufriere Hills volcano began to erupt in 1995, eventually killing 19 and destroying the capital city of Plymouth. The volcano still puffs today and the latest major event, in 2010, destroyed much of what was left of the old airport. It’s greatly hampered the island’s population (thousands had sought refuge in Great Britain) and infrastructure, though the island has rebuilt quite quickly on the north side of Soufriere Hills.

Breeah and I (I'm burnt, as you can tell) with John, the owner of The People's Place

Breeah and I (I’m burnt, as you can tell) with John, the owner of The People’s Place

We were greeted by our American ex-pat host, David Lea, who runs the Gingerbread Hill guesthouse and is somewhat of a celebrity on the island. He’s arguably the island’s foremost documentarian, having filmed and recorded hundreds of hours of video of the various eruptions and evacuations since the mid-90′s (For more on his DVD series, which is really quite interesting, click here). David, along with his wife Clover, also opened the Hilltop Family Centre and Coffee House, which is a museum in its own right. The various displays inside include many relics retrieved from the ashen town of Plymouth.

A view of little Redonda (foreground, part of Antigua) and Nevis from our room at Gingerbread Hill.

A view of little Redonda (foreground, part of Antigua) and Nevis from our room at Gingerbread Hill.

We also booked a tour with David, who took us (and another visiting couple from Texas) around on a whirlwind six-hour trip. One of the highlights of the early part of the tour was visiting the football field. Yes, the football field. In Montserrat. I’m not joking.

The now famous Soufriere Hills volcano, still spewing ash on a beautiful and clear March day.

The now famous Soufriere Hills volcano, still puffing smoke on a beautiful and clear March day.

Actually the very first time I’d ever heard of Montserrat was a 2003 sports documentary called The Other Final. I’d heard about it soon after it had been released to DVD and purchased it, interested in a match that pitted the two lowest ranked countries in the world, Bhutan and Montserrat (and it took place the same day as the 2002 World Cup final). It was all the brainchild of a Dutch fan and filmmaker, who decided it would be some quirky fun to get the two nations on the same field. In the end it was all quite endearing and you learned of the various struggles and triumphs that participants from both nations shared in. Oh, Bhutan (the home team) won 4-1.

As you can see, the roads are ash-ridden in the Daytime Entry Zone

As you can see, the roads are ash-ridden in the Daytime Entry Zone. This stuff feels really strange to step on…

FIFA financed a project (post-eruption) for a new football field in Montserrat (part of an ongoing project devoted to developing football in smaller nations). With that Blake’s Estate Stadium was born and is unexpectedly grand. Want to play with the Montserrat football team? Well, you actually can in FIFA World Cup 2014 Brazil, which releases for Xbox 360 and PS3 in mid-April. They may be long from having a chance to qualify for the World Cup, but anything can happen in video games!

You can see here how Montserrat is growing (thanks to the volcano) as we speak

You can see here how Montserrat is growing (thanks to the volcano) as we speak

The national sport in Montserrat is arguably cricket, and the West Indies cricket team (a legitimate powerhouse in the sport) fields one player from Montserrat. Breeah and I watched a match between West Indies and England over at the People’s Place with some local rastafarians who were more than happy to explain the rules (of which my knowledge was extremely rough). John, the affable owner, was also quite engaging, and sent us of with a fresh mango as an “apology” for not remembering Breeah’s name. Our first encounter with the Montserrat locals was extremely positive and, most of all, fun. That didn’t change at all throughout our short stay.

Zone C - the Daylight Entry Zone

Zone C – the Daylight Entry Zone

I won’t do an entire play-by-play of the tour, but David hit up nearly every important spot on the small island. That included the Volcano Observatory, which staffs scientists from Britain round-the-clock in an effort to monitor and study Soufriere Hills. According to David and the scientists at the observatory, the clearness of the skies on this particular day (March 11 – my 32nd birthday as well) was quite rare, making for an unobtrusive view of the volcano itself (which is usually enveloped by clouds). In these photos I’m posting, the only “clouds” you’ll see is the smoky plumes emanating from the crater.

The ruins of Plymouth in the distance

The ruins of Plymouth in the distance

We visited buildings on the very edge of the exclusion zone (a forbidden area which includes all of what’s left of Plymouth) and got some amazing views of this modern day Pompeii from the old Montserrat Springs Hotel. The “hotel” is now being overtaken by the earth itself, with about two feet worth of ash building up around the floors of the lobby area. Some rooms are brimming with various plants and wildlife (almost like a scene from Jumanji).

An abandoned office in the Montserrat Springs Hotel

An abandoned office in the Montserrat Springs Hotel

You can’t talk about Montserrat without giving a nod to the music scene there. Arrow, the artist who recorded the popular song, “Hot, Hot, Hot” lived and died on the island. We visited the famous AIR Studios which is now long abandoned (since 1989′s Hurricane Hugo) but hosted a who’s who of Hall of Fame rock bands and artists over the years including Jimmy Buffet, Elton John, Duran Duran, Sting, Paul McCartney, Rush, Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath (and many more). Many famous albums and songs were recorded here (a fairly comprehensive, but still partial, list can be found here). We spent some time in the now gutted studio, where Beatles producer George Martin (who still lives on the island part-time and owns the decrepit property) helped lay down some of the most legendary tracks in rock music. It was a bit sad really, that such an important place in music history is in ruins, but at least it is still standing – somewhat.

Some buildings in Plymouth are almost completely buried (while others surely are gone from sight forever)

Some buildings in Plymouth are almost completely buried (while others surely are gone from sight forever)

We had a full second day in Montserrat which Breeah and I used to go down to Little Bay, the new beachfront community in the northwestern part of the island. There are two black sand beaches in the area, one being Little Bay beach itself and the other being Carr’s Bay, which has a smattering of old cannons. Little Bay is the better of the two, with a fresh new development (not without some local controversy) and a more inviting beach.

Rendezvous Beach is still about 25 minutes away from us, but here is the view of the beach from the top of the hill

Rendezvous Beach is still about 25 minutes away from us, but here is the view of the beach from the top of the hill

The real gem of the few Montserrat beaches is Rendezvous Beach, tucked away over a hillside past the ferry terminal. While, in pure distance, this is theoretically a short hike (less than a mile), its steep grade makes it a near-hour journey each way but it is SOOO worth it. To date, Rendezvous is the best beach I’ve ever visited. It may not have crystal clear blue waters (yet still quite clear in its own right), but its dramatic cliffsides coupled with complete isolation (we were the only ones there for the whole three hours) makes it my top beach of the Caribbean. It was the absolute highlight of the trip!

The prize at the end of an arduous hike!

The prize at the end of an arduous hike!

I have a list of 10-20 places (the number varies as my interests change) that make up my travel bucket list. Among those places are Antarctica, Nunavut, Greenland, Andorra and American Samoa (the pattern generally being isolated or just plain out far-flung and/or geographically quirky). I’ve made it to two of these places now: Easter Island and Montserrat. I haven’t been disappointed with either. Such destinations usually offer up a more peaceful, unobtrusive environment to the traveler, allowing them to soak in the place for themselves at their own pace. More and more I’ve abandoned the touristy for the off-the-beaten-path type stuff. I’m a sucker for adventure, not getting taken for every last dime at a t-shirt shop or overpriced cruise terminal restaurant. I’d rather not spend $6,000 and stay at the same exact Sandals beach for a week and have no idea of the country I just visited. Montserrat met and exceeded my expectations and is, by far, my favorite place in the Caribbean. I highly recommend you go and check it out for yourself – and spend a few more days if you can (we wish we had)!

JACKIE FIYAH

I had the pleasure of seeing Jackie Fiyah (given name: Franklyn Hixon) during our introductory tour of Montserrat on my birthday, this past March 11. Jackie, as youthful as could be for someone presumably in his 70s, exchanged pleasantries with David midway through our tour. Jackie, as I learned, was a true free spirit, an artist, a musician and a visionary. He was highly respected and a true legend on his home island of Montserrat. I recently visited a gallery exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery here in D.C. dubbed “American Cool”, profiling some of the country’s, well, coolest. Well, to me, even in my brief encounter, Jackie would definitely typify “Montserrat Cool”.

We had the great fortune to visit Jackie’s incredible house, dubbed “One Million Pieces”. Built by him from the ground up, the house towered over all nearby structures and offered an incredible view of the Soufriere Hills volcano and the surrounding scenery. Jackie’s sculptures were everywhere, most in the form of interesting faces or fully-posed characters, some integrated right into the wall. My favorite, which I’ll share with you, was a cricketer, with a view of Soufiere Hills in the background.

Jackie Fiyah Cricketer

I write in past tense because on March 16, just five days after we dropped by, Jackie’s house collapsed with him in it. He didn’t survive.

For those that new Jackie far better that I, I send my sincere condolences. While the landscapes of God’s green earth inspires most of my travels, what I end up finding is that the memories created with the people I meet are what I ultimately what I cherish the very most. Montserrat’s beauty drew me in, but the beautiful people will stick with me forever.

For more information and a photo of Jackie, please read the story from the Montserrat Reporter. Jackie’s house was featured in a 2009 issue of Caribbean Homes and Lifestyle – you can find an e-issue here.

An arch formation at Carr's Bay Beach

An arch formation at Carr’s Bay Beach

A post office at government HQ in Brades

A post office at government HQ in Brades

A Royal Mail truck! Straight from Britain...

A Royal Mail truck! Straight from Britain…

View of Little Bay from the top of the Rendezvous Beach Trail

View of Little Bay from the top of the Rendezvous Beach Trail

Fogarty Sugar Mill Ruins are located next to the Hilltop Cafe. There is an excellent walking trail that begins here as well.

Fogarty Sugar Mill Ruins are located next to the Hilltop Cafe. There is an excellent walking trail that begins here as well.

A lone tree sits atop the summit of the Rendezvous Trail

A lone tree sits atop the summit of the Rendezvous Trail

I thought you might enjoy seeing a shot from the airport and the small plane we flew to get into Montserrat.

I thought you might enjoy seeing a shot from the airport and the small plane we flew to get into Montserrat.

More shots of Plymouth

More shots of Plymouth…

Plymouth 2

You can see a Sugar Mill in the background here…

Astonishing how these buildings will likely all be buried at some point, maybe in our lifetimes...

Astonishing how these buildings will likely all be buried at some point, maybe in our lifetimes…

View from the (former) Montserrat Springs Hotel

View from the (former) Montserrat Springs Hotel

Another view from Montserrat Springs

Another view from Montserrat Springs

Breeah and I in front of the Soufriere Hills Volcano at the Volcano Observatory

Breeah and I in front of the Soufriere Hills Volcano at the Volcano Observatory

It's a jungle in here...literally. (Montserrat Springs Hotel)

It’s a jungle in here…literally. (Montserrat Springs Hotel)

The halls of the Montserrat Springs Hotel

The halls of the Montserrat Springs Hotel

A shelf in the Montserrat Springs office is in a slow-motion mid-collapse...

A shelf in the Montserrat Springs office is in a slow-motion mid-collapse…

You can't go past this point, unless  you want to be deported...

You can’t go past this point, unless you want to be deported…

An amazing piece of art, this "skyscaper" house was cobbled together by a local rasta artist who goes by the name Jackie Fire

An amazing piece of art, this “skyscaper” house was dubbed “One Million Pieces”. Tragically, the artist and homeowner, Jackie Fiyah, perished when it collapsed on March 16, 2014, five days after we visited.

The black sand beach at Little Bay

The black sand beach at Little Bay

A view from Redonda from the rocky side of Rendezvous Bay

A view from Redonda from the rocky side of Rendezvous Bay

The recording studio at AIR Studios, Montserrat

The recording studio at AIR Studios, Montserrat

 

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42 thoughts on “HOW NOT TO BE A TYPICAL TOURIST: VISIT MONTSERRAT

  1. This is the best and most informative article I have ever read about Montserrat. Thank you so much for taking the time and catching the amazing mystique of the Emerald Isle.

  2. Thanks so much for so lovingly recording your trip. I was born in Montserrat over seventy years ago – at a home (destroyed by the mountain in 1997) which was an old sugar mill on the Windward side that was renovated by my dad. Both sides of my family were planters. I left as a child of 9 and returned a number of times as an adult; however, I cannot travel now. It was such a treat to my soul to see the island through your and Breeah’s eyes.
    God bless you both and may you continue to explore. Sincerely, Ariel Hollender

  3. I enjoyed looking at the unusual shots captured from various points of the island…very interesting and enlightening.I spent the first 10 years of my life on the island and remembered how it use to be…….but I still appreciate its natural beauty and simplicity.

  4. Dear Philip,…….wonderful , thank you from someone who discovered Montserrat in 1982 …….sadly I must tell you that my friend and companion Jackie Fyah died March 16th when his tower collapsed on him…..he was buried yesterday. I am happy you saw the place and hopefully met him too………Elinor.

    • Thank you Elinor – I happened to stumble on the story of Jackie’s passing last night before reading your comment, it definitely shook me up! I had the pleasure of meeting him earlier that day before visiting the house. It’s hard to express words, he obviously lived a very beautiful (and thankfully long, if cut short) life. I may do a followup post.

      • I’m happy you met him…..he was truly unique, a gifted complicated man who had had much suffering but lived his Life with joy…xo elle

  5. Philip: your article is terrific, it feels very ‘peaceful’ here – we have been coming for a few years, live in Old Towne – great promo for Montserrat -

  6. Thanks you for this article. I love how you shared the past and present conditions. Glad you enjoyed your stay and hope you will have other opportunities to return.

  7. Hi Philip it was so refreshing to read yours and Beah’s experiences during your short stay on Montserrat. I was born and educated on Montserrat before leaving to train as a nurse in the UK where I have remained. However, because of my love for Montserrat I returned to get married there ( no other place on earth would do)!!! Ineedless to say I visited as regularly as possible with my children and still do with children and grandchildren in tow!!
    Thank you so much for your description and wonderful photos of Montserrat. It’s my favourite place on earth!!
    I hope you get to return once you and Beah finish your bucket list. May God keep you both safe on your future travels!

    • I’m so glad you are able to make it back to Montserrat often despite being across the ocean! Thanks for the blessings and kind words, Breeah and i appreciate that so much!

  8. Thanks for this great travel report and the amazing pictures. I have lived some years on Montserrat and it’s like my second home. Your article makes Montserrat look so much more inviting than the tourist board brochure.It’s travellers like you who can spread the beauty and value of Montserrat and it’s people. And it’s travellers like you that Montserrat should be looking out for. We have 2 groups on FB , Montserrat Island Art& Photos&Postcards and Montserrat Island New Art&…. We are all friends of Montserrat and locals, diaspora and on island, and we are sharing our photos and feelings, Would be honoured, if you would join us, Respect Hilde Blake

    • Thank you Hilde! This is why I love, love, love to share my travel experiences with others. Not only can I connect with great people like yourself, but introduce others to places that may have never crossed their minds. It’s a win-win.

  9. You hit all the high points, good job! My parents first visited and bought land on Montserrat in 1965, building a house overlooking the Belham Valley and the golf course (now buried) in 1976, which they rented out when they weren’t visiting. When Air Studios was active there, The Climax Blues Band and Jimmy Buffet were among the recording artists who rented my parents house. The Climax Blues Band album Real to Reel has, on the full inside cover, a view from our gallery at sunset taken in 1979. I first visited in 1978, and fell in love with the place. It has had so many ups and downs, hurricane Hugo in 1989, and then the volcano started up just as the island was finally getting back on its feet. Even so, as the song goes, Montseeart Nice, Nice, Nice…

    • Christopher, thanks so much for the background info on AIR Studios – it’s something I really want to dive more into the history of. I need to obtain a copy of Real to Reel! I don’t know if you’re familiar with Chris Runciman (a manager for Climax BB at the time), but we saw him in Montserrat setting up for the African Music Festival that took place on March 15.

  10. Montserrat was our home from 1980 (we bought in ’76) until a year past Hugo. So many happy and rewarding moments and so many wonderful friends. I am encouraged and pray government takes the right steps restoring the uniqueness of our Emerald Isle. Thanks Cathy and Bill for forwarding.

    Ron Erb

  11. What a lovely article and so thorough. I first visited Montserrat in April 2013, staying with my in-laws who retired there in 2012 (after owning a home/renting it out for many years) Montserrat was my first (but not last!) taste of the Caribbean and it will make the rest of the islands a hard sell. I look forward to sharing this with our Texas friends. You did a great job. Thank you.

    • Thank you for the kind comments Jennifer. It just so happens the other couple that was with us on the tour (they had flown in for the day from Antigua) were from Texas as well. I hope they got the same sense of the place as we did, even though there time there was really short!

  12. What a nice write up and leaves one with a nice taste in their mouths. I love the island and its people. A shame that Jackie Fires house is not longer. Very sad but a great shot of it to remember it by. thanks for the trouble you took in compiling this nice blog.

    • Thank you! I did post an addendum about Jackie to this story. I was quite saddened after hearing about it. That was an amazing work of art and hopefully more people will become aware of his talents through his passing.

  13. Wow! Philip thank you for your beautiful recollection of the place that is closest to my heart. Your story brought me back to growing up as a child and exploring all the knucks (a Montserrat word) and crannies of my beautiful Montserrat. All of your descriptions were so very visual and engaging, that I came away longing to be there and immediately posted a link to your page for all my friends and a few of my groups on http://www.facebook.com/jazz.fenton.52 for them to read. Then I sent out e-mails to others. Your article was exciting, adventurous and heart warming too. Thanks again for sharing yours and Breeah’s adventures on my homeland.

    • I’ll have to add “knucks” to my personal repertoire! Thank you so much for sharing the story, I was overwhelmed by the positive response from Montserratians such as yourself. Makes me miss the place that much more!

  14. Wow, great information on Montserrat , myself and friend visited this island in February this year 2014, stayed with friends that have a beautiful ville in old town, some of you’re pictures were places we visited too, However couldn’t have detailed what you collected so beautifully.

  15. Thanks for your piece on Fyah………he had just turned 64……..the stongest man I ever met despite his seemingly fragile structure……….it is my gratest wish now to rescue as many of those sculpted faces etc I can from the rubble and create a wall with them in his memory. ( I too do stone work and that is how we met…)…..xoxo elle

  16. Seeing your pictures and reading your review of your trip there, makes me wish I was back there. I spent a lot of time near St. Peters overlooking Woodlands Beach on holidays as a young adolescent and have been back half a dozen times since. It practically feels like a second home to me. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Dear Phillip,
    I am pleased that you and Breeah enjoyed our beautiful Island. Your pictures brought back memories of happier times, and reminded me of loved ones who are no longer with us. I have been away since 1993. The pictures of desolated Plymouth always saddens me, because I was in New York in July1997 when I saw the swallowing up of our property in Dagenham disappearing before my eyes on TV. It is good to see the Island rising again like a Phoenix.

    Montserratians are a resilient people, with our Irish and African heritage, we know how to knock the dust off and make the most of adversity, concurring with Shakespeare, that sweet are its uses. I am just building my website, and would be grateful if I could use 3 of your pictures on my site. I would like to return from England on a holiday someday.
    May God grant you your wish to realise your bucket list.

    Rosemary

    • Please go ahead an use what you need Rosemary, and don’t hesitate to update us on this post as to your progress on the website. Good luck and thank you so much for adding your thoughts and kind words!

  18. Wonderful article Philip! I was on Montserrat the same week as you, with the same birthday no less! I believe you passed us in your car while in Zone C on the 11th. This was our second trip to my favourite place on earth after visiting during the height of the last major volcanic activity in January/February 2010 (I have a thing for volcanoes). For me, it was quite unsettling to be down near Fox’s Bay with my head full of memories of pyroclastic flows thundering down through Plymouth, not a smart place to be in those times.
    The people and beauty of Montserrat stole our hearts in 2010 and we have not been able to shake that hold on us since. We listen to ZJB online and keep up with the news from here in Canada. On our return this year, it was amazing to see how much greener the hills had become, and how many local initiatives have progressed (some, as you say, not without controversy). Montserratians are the strongest and kindest group of people I have ever encountered, and the sense of a place moving positively toward the future was palpable on this visit. I selfishly hope that the changes to come do not detract from the intimate wonderfulness of the place.
    We too were very saddened to hear of Jackie’s passing, we had met him 2010 when we stumbled on the house by accident, and spoke to him just the night before the tragedy. I, like Elinor, hope that his sculptures can be salvaged.
    Like you, I prefer off the beaten path travel and have my own bucket list of sorts, but be warned, Montserrat may have already ruined you for all other travel plans, it’s pull to return is strong!
    Thank you for the excellent article and photographs.

  19. Glad you enjoyed Montserrat. Yes Rendezvous beach is beautiful but did you visit Islesbay , Foxesbay or Woodlands beach ?!!

  20. Hi Phillip,

    Thanks for sharing your visit to Montserrat with us. You did a great job of capturing the essence of the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean. I enjoyed reading your article, It took me down memory lane with reflections of my years growing up in Montserrat (The Rock) before migrating to the USA. You got some beautiful pictures too. Sorry you were not able to see the Montserrat before Hurricane Hugo and the Volcano. The writer sums it up in the word of “Oh Montserrat” – ‘ My homeland forever you’ll be – God’s own hand carved this Emerald and set it in the deep blue sea – and on it placed the most wonderful people that ever there could be – Their habits and their sense of wit, bare the greatest of all world charms – and to the stranger there’s always a welcome with warm hearts and open arms.’

    Best wishes to you and Breeah!!!!

    Ethlyn

  21. Fun and informative which encourages me to wonder if you might a few more to your list (Andorra is a dump but Llivia is worthy of the weird exclave label.) St Pierre and Miquelon. Isle of Man, Ceuta, all would merit a glance from your eagle eye.Add Hyder, Campione D’Italia, and Neum and you will be keeping us enteterained for a while. cheers.

    • I’ve actually had both St. Pierre and Miquelon and Isle of Man on my radar for awhile as well! I’m almost sure I’ll check off St. Pierre when I finally get up to Newfoundland. I’m aware of those others as well, except for Neum – that’s a new one to me and I’ve recently been to Croatia!

  22. I read this from start to end. I especially like the pictures which were well taken. This is good publicity for Montserrat and as the writer says, for a special niche market – the traveller, the adventurer. Good promotion. It is sincere writing.

  23. Great post..! My mom sent me a link to it. Our family has roots on that beautiful Island. My Mom, Grandmother, Uncle and many others started life there. Our family lost homes with the volcano eruption so it’s funny looking at what is left. I think it was over 25 years ago that I visited Montserrat. Thanks again for sharing your experience.

  24. David and his (then wee, now huge) son Jesse put us up in a room adjoining his house during our stay on the island back at the beginning of 2000 (the rest of his family were in the US). There was greater uncertainty then about what the volcano would do longer term, there was still an undercurrent of, was it mourning?, in the otherwise upbeat, optimistic, jovial (and always friendly) Montserratians, as it was only 2.5 years since the tragic deaths from the 1997 eruption episode.
    We were then seen by the islanders as sufficiently unusual then, coming all the way to Montserrat from the Netherlands to see their volcano, that the lovely Rose Willock even interviewed us on the radio.
    David and Jesse made sure not only that we saw everything that was on our list to see (mostly volcanic stuff) but also made sure that we got a taste of the wonderful Montserratians themselves. It was this combination that makes our sojourn in Montserrat one of the most memorable experiences we have ever had. You know you’ve made contact with the locals when they invite you to their weekly game of Trivial Pursuit (and I think our team won, David ☺).
    Times were clearly different then, but there was sufficient overlap between our and Philip/Breeah’s experience to bring it all flooding back. And indeed, that water must be potent stuff.

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