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.
(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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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)!
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.
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.
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.
Thanks David – I’m happy you found my home on the web! I’m already missing Montserrat (maybe it’s the water I drank…)
I truly loved your piece on Montserrat, having been there only recently (my first of what I hope to be many more such “Montserrat Travels”). Are you reachable via email?
Thank you Mike! Yes you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This brings back many good memories .I hope to visit the island again one day .
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
Thank you Ariel, so glad our story touched your heart! It’s wonderful to hear your story and glad we could help bring back old memories. God bless you as well!
Very good article you were very observant.
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.
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
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 –
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.
I hope so as well, Janice. Hope to visit Nevis soon and may route my way back to Montserrat that way.
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!
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.
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.
And I rented the house for Climax Blues Band and Jimmy Buffet, hopefully we didn’t do too much damage, we certainly had the Parties! Montserrat is lucky enough to have escaped the Hilton Hotels of this world and stayed the Paradise I always thought it was. Went back last year and it was really springing to life. Everyone should visit.
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.
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!
Jennifer, my-in-law still owns a home in Monterrey she is transferring to my husband. We just heard they opened up the area where the property is located. Since you were recently there and have in-laws residing there now, I would love to find out more about your trip and experience as well. If we can be connected somehow that would be great. We have been waiting to visit and plan to ultimate retire on the island if it is “ok.” I know that is relative to he individual. If we can connect, my email is email@example.com.
Christopher, thank you for the wonderful article!!!!!
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
Thanks Pat, I appreciate your kind words! Hope you get back to Montserrat soon!
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.
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!
Hey Philip, (No tell no baddy) LOOL. Yes great Island great people.
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.
Glad you enjoyed Montserrat. Yes Rendezvous beach is beautiful but did you visit Islesbay , Foxesbay or Woodlands beach ?!!
While it looks like you had quite the tour of Montserrat it seems like it was focused on the volcano and the Northern end of the island. The southern end , before the exclusion zone, is probably the more beautiful section of the island. When you stand on Islesbay beach and take in the view looking toward Foxes Bay beach they are the most beautiful beaches on the island. Rendezvous beach is beautiful , white and secluded but not as scenic. Most of the time when we go swimming in Islesbay we are the only ones on the beach as well.
You are correct that Montserrat is for travelers not tourists. We are very happy you liked the island. If you decide to return to the island I recommend you rent a villa in Islesbay, Old Towne or IslesBay plantation , you will not be disappointed.
As far as the volcano , it is Montserrat’s only tourist trap. Time for the island to be known for something other than it. Soooo much more to offer.
Just my opinions,
Thanks for your comments Susan – Two years later and Montserrat still ranks as one of the best places I’ve ever been. I plan on going back (likely via Nevis – if that is possible). I wish I had more time toexplore the southern area – we did visit a beach out there on our tour and the southern end looked wonderful, some amazing properties out there as well. When I go back I plan to do some more exploring on that side.
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!!!!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Josiah that’s my home town so much memories come back just looking at your pics and I do have faith in the land where my grand parents bones are resting yes even though the environment has made a few mystical change everything still remain good because its only going to be time when tragedy like hugo the volcano and even hurricane david will be something we can talk about in history yes Montserrat is a mystery land of my mun and dad sisters and brothers and the oldest one I can remember her up to this day and that’s my great grand mother haskul so this is the place I chose to call heaven the isle of paradise mount paran
I’ve enjoyed the pictures and comments on your visit to Montserrat after the volcanic destruction. Thank you for sharing them! Back before all this happened, I used to spend a week or two each year at my Father-in-law’s home there which he sold long before the volcanic eruption occurred and which I have no idea whether or not it survived. It was located high up on the mountain side and had this amazing view as we sat on the deck by the pool. Down the mountain to the left was the beautiful town and port of Plymouth where we would watch all the ships coming in and out. …and all around the house to the right was the glorious view of the Caribbean. Each night at sunset, we would watch for the “green flash” just as the sun disappeared into the sea. I used to spend time walking down to Bransby’s Point to watch the waves come in from two directions and splash up onto the black volcanic rocks I was sitting on. Foxes Bay was a favorite beach that we could walk to, watching out for all the cows walking down the roads or tethered along the way. …and Rendezvous Bay–that beautiful white sand beach was well worth the hike over the hill. I loved the solitude there and like you, had the beach all to ourselves every time we went! I actually walked on the Souffriere, taking in the smell of sulfur and being careful not to step in any of the steam vents. …and I especially loved the walk back to the Waterfall with all the young boys and girls shouting “waterfall, waterfall”, wanting to guide us to it even though we knew the way quite well. …so many memories of one of the most pristine, beautiful places in all the world where the people, as you have encountered were so friendly and welcoming. I miss it and perhaps one day, I will visit again. But it will be a new Montserrat that I experience when that day comes.
I lived on Montserrat in the 1960s. My wife and I went there to work just a few weeks after we were married. Frankly I do not have fond memories of the place. Friendly people? Sure. The local guys treated rape as a sport. My wife was constantly propositioned everywhere we went. Every day at least five guys would ask her “Does your husband mind if you go with other men?” It was beyond a joke. The scenery is wonderful, there was a surface feeling os relaxation, but with a strong undercurrent of threat and sexual intimidation. That’s a long time ago now, hope things have changed.
I have only recently learned of Montserrat and am very interested in the island and its culture. Thank you you for filling in some holes in my knowledge. Very enjoyable read.
On our way next month to Montserrat. Looking forward to our adventure.
Have fun Alan, glad to hear you made room for Montserrat in your travel itinerary. I guarantee you will have a unique and amazing trip!