Before it all fades like old photographs, before I’m left with only digital memories, I ought to share a few highlights of this amazing journey. It involved a volcano, a shark, a bear, a six-seater plane, and 7 different places in just 2 weeks….
And so my Best Moments, some the sort to stay in the “Best Moments of all time..”
- Exploring an abandoned hotel. I love the book “Beauty in Decay” where photographers explore urban settings being overrun by nature. The Hot Springs Hotel in Montserrat was once a spa hotel, with a swimming pool. It now lies in ruin, filled with ash, floors covered, keys rusting on nails, plants growing through the floor and walls. Fax machine frozen in time. A chip fryer in the dust. Desks as if someone just got up and left – and never came back. (Photos are here on Flickr.)
- Swimming by the light of the Moon – with Jupitar, Venus, and Mars. As the sun set on Little Bay, in northern Montserrat, I dipped in and out of the waves. Darkness fell slowly. Lucy played on the sand and Nana waited patiently for dinner in an open-air beachside café. Everything was very open, very primitive, shacks thrown up in haste on the side of the island that was once less inhabited. The green, lush southern part of Montserrat is now the exclusion zone. Either covered in lave, lahar, or ash, or abandoned because the volcano’s flow makes access in impossible. So, the few people remaining are rebuilding, on the northern, more arid end of the island.
- Playing in fine black sand on the beach, the heavy smell of sulfur in the air. The sand is so fine yet so black. Pure volcanic sand. From mountains come rocks and from rocks come pebbles and from pebbles come sand.
- Seeing the ruined town on Plymouth from a boat out at sea. We had to stay quite far out, as the exclusion zone extends to the water. It was fascinating to see the destruction, like a modern day Pompeii.
- Staying in the most amazing place I’ve ever stayed, an open-porched villa in a place called Gingerbread Hill. Views of the sea, the mountains, the sunsets. And all open. No pumped in air conditioning. Ceiling fans and cross winds kept the villa cool. And on the last day we had a visit from the family parrot. Such a gorgeous place to stay. The reviewers were all spot on. Excellent choice.
Scuba Diving in Antigua, I did my refresher course on Montserrat, and the currents were hard to manage. A couple of days later I did 2 dives on nearby Antigua, where the water was clear and still, and the feeling of flying returned, drifting over reefs. And we saw a shark – only about 3 foot nurse shark. But still. It was just after the instructor was going over hand symbol for different fish. “This is shark” I said, making a fin on top of my head with my hand. “We won’t see a shark,” He said. It was the first thing we saw. (http://www.extrememarinescuba.com/)
- Drinking a cocktail IN the sea while watching the sunset on Antigua. White sand, and shallow, gentle water. And the sun slowly setting. Montserrat was extra special for it’s wildness and lack of other tourists. Antigua was crowded by comparison, and staying in a big resort was almost like being back in a city. But still there were some special moments. Lucy loved the pool. And I loved my one cocktail of the Carribbean adventure (who needs cocktails when you have volcanoes?)
And so to the USA…more highlights…
- Photographing the moon. A Danish friend staying with my friend Dave had bought a huge zoom lens. I noticed we had the same type of camera
body… and so I got him to help me take a photo with that lens on my camera.
- Contra dancing with my cousin in Virginia, with a live folk band. I’ve always wanted to have a go. And it certainly was a work out – and lots of fun!
- Seeing my daughter and niece do a mile fun-run holding hands.
- Seeing all the family for proper sit-down family meals with Aunts, Uncles, cousins, grandkids, etc. Not a huge family but enough of us to make it feel special.
- Seeing a BEAR in the woods! In the Shenandoa National Park in Virginia. I walked on up a path, alone, after my brother took my daughter back to the cabin. I had forgotten to ask my brother what to do if I saw a bear. He thought it was unlikely that I would see one. So, I moved to higher ground (must have got bears mixed up with volcanoes) and tried to climb a tree (which you shouldn’t do) and then slowly walked a bit and then ran (which you also shouldn’t do.) Later on my brother explained that you just have to talk nicely to bears and they will leave you alone. Lucy also pointed out that you shouldn’t feed them , because when you run out of food the bears will want to eat you.
- Walking on the ridge near the Appalachian trail. I didn’t quite get to the trail, nor did I see any more bears. But I had a superb walk, and saw no other people.
Staying in the second most amazing place I’ve ever stayed, Lambert Cabin, built in the 1806s and loved for many generations. Now a hiker’s cottage, it has electricity and running water, but very low ceilings. And a mouldering privy. A really great place, totally secluded down a nearly impassible rocky road.
- Seeing Lucy walk across 10th Avenue , 50 feet tall… well, I will come back to that one…youtube video coming soon….