January 26, 2012

A shake, rattle and roll vacation experience in Montserrat

Click on photo to enlarge


Class of 1963

My husband Don and I vacationed on the island of Montserrat in 2007, just before Christmas. The island, which is in the British West Indies, had a terrible volcanic eruption back in 1995, which wiped out about one third of the island and buried its port city capital of Plymouth. Of the 13,000 people who lived on the island, 8,000 left and never returned.

It's a beautiful and super friendly island, black sand beaches mostly, and the people who remained on the island are just wonderful. This volcano is in the Sourriere Hills area, overlooking their port of entry and capital. The island is only about nine miles long and about six miles wide. The volcano erupts every few months. It sometimes just covers the island in volcanic ash, other times larger and with more damage.

The latest large eruption, re-burying much of the "exclusion zone", which is miles of dangerous area around the volcano, occurred on 2/11/10. The islanders live with this threat on a daily basis, but the new volcanic observatory built after the 1995 eruption has a warning system now in place on the island. The volcano is constantly monitored by the observatory.

One day we were sitting around the pool of this beautiful private villa we had rented. It had acres of land with amazing gardens and it was right on the top of a cliff with a 300 foot drop into the ocean. Suddenly everything started rolling and shaking. Waves started breaking across the top of the pool.

One reason we had rented this villa was because it was as close to the exclusion zone as was permitted, just on the edge of the danger zone. It has a view of the volcano, which is beautiful at night. Light from the fire inside makes it glow in the dark. We thought we were having a good size eruption and ran to see the volcanic mountain erupting (in hindsight, not too intelligent), only to find out it was an earthquake instead! A very different kind of vacation experience. Nature at its finest.

This is a link to the story and video of the eruption(s):

http://www.youtube.com/user/ptvmontserrat (may need to be copied and pasted to view.)


Larry Bory said...

We were on Monseraat as part of our Leeward Islands cruise in December. Will write a piece on cruising soon with pics soon. Appropriate in light of the Costa disaster. My take is choose a small ship that stops in US ports. Then they are required to meet all US Coast Guard standards on safety and crew training.

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