Montserrat 16:48.1N 62:12.4W
Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Sat 4 Jun 2016 22:02
In 1995, just as the Island was recovering from hurricane Hugo in 1989, the Soufriere Hill volcano erupted after 400 years and successive eruptions from then until 2010 have left the southern half of the island uninhabitable. The capital, Plymouth, is buried under ash and mud and the houses in the surrounding areas, from which people were evacuated (for the weekend) in 1996, have now been absorbed back into the rapidly growing jungle. Things grow quickly in the fertile volcanic ash.
We had a 4hour tour of the accessible area with Joe Phillip a very knowledgable tour guide who was one of those evacuated 20 years ago. He was able to show us before and after pictures of the areas affected by the volcano. Some of the roads in the area have been cleared of the volcanic debris and this is sifted and graded then exported as sand and aggregate. We were able to go inside abandoned buildings, and this and the fact that our guide could name the inhabitants made it a very human tragedy. Joe also showed us pictures of the inhabitants going about their daily lives as the volcano continued erupting in the back ground.
We visited the volcano observatory, where we saw a video about the eruptions: the pictures were terrifyingly dramatic, but low cloud meant our view of the actual mountain was limited.
Daily life goes on in the northern part of the island for the 5000 inhabitants who have decided to remain. They are very proud of what they have done to rebuild, and the northern towns are very attractive. Sir George Martin had a recording studio here in the eighties and many famous names recorded some of their best known songs here. He was also instrumental in raising money for development here in recent years.
We intend to have a walk in the hills today and move on to Antigua tomorrow.
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