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Montserrat


Basic map of this island nation. Montserrat's national flag Montserrat from Space, thanks to Google Earth

Alissa & I went to Montserrat on October 28th, 2003.
It was an all-day trip. Their passport stamp is a cloverleaf,
which gave us a first clue to its origin as a UK possession.
The idea of going to another nearby island with a rich history intrigued us.
We took a regular ferry the twenty-seven miles to Little Bay, disembarked, and
presently Alissa received a proposal of marriage by one of the dock workers.
I mentioned to this exuberant young man that she already has a husband,
but it was of no hindrance to him.
So I tried mentioning that my mother-in-law would be part of the deal,
but he said he didn't mind. He was completely willing to take my place.
I didn't bother telling him that my mother-in-law is pretty good. I didn't want to encourage him!

Over the years, many musicians have made their way here to record
at the legendary AIR Studios. That alone was, for me anyway,
a major reason to visit the Emerald Isle. Like a moth to a flame...

When Soufriere Hills volcano erupted for the first time in 1995,
huge mudflows covered everything from Plymouth, to Bramble Airport,
changing the wide-set south side of this little island forever.
Up until 1995, Montserrat had a population of about 12,000.
After the volcano rumbled to life, two-thirds of the people relocated elsewhere.
Since Plymouth's demise, the de facto capital has been on the Brades Estate near Carr's Bay.

Twelve miles long by six miles wide, this British territory is now divided in half:
The populated Northern zone, and the uninhabited exclusion zone. There is a small area on the
southwest border of the latter into which daytime entry is permitted. We taxied all over the island
viewing not only The Devastation, but also witnessing the resilience of the people.
My wife was only too happy to donate all of our cash to locals who shared their island with us.
In fact, when we departed Montserrat, we had not a single Eastern Caribbean dollar in our pockets,
although we now possess a treasure of experiences and memories of the island and of its people we met.

Alissa on deck, during the 27-mile ferry ride to Montserrat
Embarked on the Opale Express
We started & ended our Montserrat journey on Antigua
Antigua, viewed from the deck
of the Opale Express ferry
Alissa with her actual husband, Little Bay, Montserrat
Beyond Customs, the
Welcome sign
Ben and an example of Montserrat flood control, at Silver Hill. The island of Antigua in the hazy distance beyond.
High ground, Montserrat
One of many local bars, Montserrat. The island was settled by English & Irish colonists from St. Kitts in 1632
A good place to be
when it rains
Redondo, uninhabited island, from Silver Hill, Montserrat
Redondo, from Montserrat
Mud flows, ash & Soufriere Hills in the distance. This was taken from the west side of the Exclusion Zone.
Soufriere Hills from the
western exclusion zone.
Everybody in the caravan helped get one of the vehicles unstuck from the mudflow when we where entering the Exclusion Zone.
Exclusion zone daytime area:
a car is stuck...
Christopher Columbus had no idea of the island's volcanism when he discovered it in 1493.
Signage with July's new mud
shortening its legs.
George Martin, the 'fifth Beatle,' built AIR Studios in Plymouth, Montserrat.
What's left of Plymouth, the
abandoned capital of Montserrat
About 4,000 people lived in Plymouth before it was destroyed.
A humbled abode, near Plymouth
Hurricane Hugo roared through Montserrat in 1989... the volcano was the icing on the cake!
Some macadam lies hidden
beneath the road to Plymouth.
Noteworthy Soufriere eruptions: 1995, 1997, 2003, 2004
The smoking hulk of Soufiere
Hills from the west.
Mr. Thomas Lee, the last lucky man to get away from Bramble Airport, moments before the deadly pyroclastic flow leapt across the runway in 1997.
Thomas "Lucky" Lee, who
showed us around the island
Big as a house and as gentle as a whisper.
Bob the driver, and Alissa
South Soufriere Hills, still green, viewed through a snag
Classic view of
the Devastation
Microclimate formed by the caldera, the tropical heat & the abundant ocean.
Low clouds through a
snag on Montserrat
Soufriere viewed from the highlands to its north, on the leg of the trip to the eastern side of the island.
Highlands with the
Soufriere Hills in the distance.
Highest point in Montserrat, at 930 meters, or 3,050 feet above sea level
Chances Peak, 930 meters
or 3,050 feet above sea level.
Lunch stop on Jack Boy Hill
A little pause atop
Jack Boy Hill
The Devastator, belching out smoke & ash, 28 Oct, 2003
The volcano, just two months
since its most recent eruption.
This is the old airport, named after W. H. Bramble, and here completely unusable. Nineteen people were killed here in 1997 by the pyroclastic flow.
Bramble Airport, Montserrat.
The Pinnacle at Marguerita Bay
Marguerita Bay, on the
east side of Montserrat
It was so hot this day, that we would have taken a dozen frozen margaritas... to pour all over ourselves!
That's all, folks!
Let's get back on the boat...