Still here in Montserrat. Anchored in 'little bay'
between Rendezvous hill to the north and Potato hill to the south.
And I have spotted a bay just to the south of us called 'Bunkum Bay'! What
a fab name.
We have had a 'meet old contacts' day and a
sightseeing day. Ashore at 8.30 to clear with(1) customs, (2)port authority,
(3)security - and finally (4) immigration - it was madness!
Charming people making mountains of quite un-necessary paperwork - about 5 or 6
times as much as in the French Islands (where you complete 1 form on the
computer in 5 minutes)! Anyway, it was all done with a smile on the
officials' faces, and we sat and talked to the local port policeman while
waiting for the immigration officer (I was sitting at his desk) to arrive
from the airport, while in their designated 40 ft air-conditioned
Once cleared, we looked for a taxi, and soon saw
the immigration officer drive up, so hitched a lift with him to an old
customer's store. After that, we were taken by yet another old customer to
his business, where we spent some time. I had known the family quite well but
that was 15 - 20 years ago when I visited the island on a regular basis.
They then organized a taxi for us, and we went off for lunch in the house of
George Martin (see yesterday's blog). He lives in it for 4 - 6 weeks a
year, and the rest of the time it is a small hotel with 6 rooms. It was
lovely - quite simple and non-ostentatious.
After we saw around the house, our taxi driver took us
on a volcano sightseeing trip. We had to stop for Thomas (our
driver) to pick mangos for us, and then Thomas spotted his local (Jehovah's
witness) minister walking up the road with a large plastic bag - he offered
us some more mangos from the bag. Thomas would stop and talk to passing
friends and acquaintances, and introduce us at the same time. We had a
very amusing time.
Finally we got some amazing views of the volcano (which
is still very active - but not with violent eruptions). We were driven
across a large old boulder-strewn riverbed where a golf course had
once been. Thomas was trying to explain how deep the ash flow that we were
driving across was - he pointed to a roof that was half obscured by ash at
ground level - and then produced a photo of the same old colonial house
taken years ago. The house had been three stories and we were
looking at the very top of the upper-most roof that was
As we drove up a very steep road to get the best view of
the volcano, Thomas suddenly pointed at the area where the steady stream of gas
and smoke was emerging from and exclaimed that there was a sudden surge in
activity (which we could clearly see with a massive 'burst'of grey cloud.)
He was amazed, since it was the largest activity that he had seen this year.
(Maybe he says that to all his customers I say cynically!) I don't
think so - he was just a little concerned about it, and had already noticed
certain roadways being closed off while we were driving about. After an
amazing view of a live and very active volcano, we drove to the MVO (Montserrat
Volcano Observatory ! - didn't you guess?) where we were shown the most amazing
film of the major eruptions since 1995 - and it was scary stuff - this is a BIG
volcano and has gone on for 16 years. Yesterday, as we sailed up the
SW coast, we were just inside the maritime exclusion zone as we sailed up
the SW coast - if I'd been shown that film first, we would have been a
few miles further out!
Must go to bed. It's blowing a hooghly outside and
we are bouncing about all over the place - hope we can sleep until morning. Then
off to Nevis on Saturday.