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MY MONTSERRAT – Still a nature lover’s fantasy

New Dir of Info an Coms

New Dir of Info an Coms

By Mike Jarvis

On Radio Montserrat/ZJB this morning, Rose Willock played the song Nature Lover’s Fantasy by Rick Tyson Sullivan. I know that song very well but hadn’t heard it in a long while. Well, I’ve been back home for one week now…and what a week it’s been.

This is where Nature Lover’s Fantasy comes into the picture.

It’s a song, released in the 1980s as I recall, celebrating Montserrat’s spectacular natural beauty; a very mellow undulating reggae-tinged groove that reminds you of gentle Caribbean waves (which is what I think Rick, Randy Greenaway and the band Mantis had in mind when they wrote it), references to the island’s captivating scenic beauty, even the then-dormant volcano – now resting after a rude and destructive re-awakening, gets a mention, as does the ‘once-magnificent-now-literally- paved-over’ Great Alps water fall. Remember that? The Hot Water Springs – well, we sort of knew what that as all about. The scaldingly hot water coming out of the earth down at Foxes Bay, somebody boiling an egg in it, the rejuvenative properties of the (volcanic) minerals in the water spawned if not quite a health spa industry then at least the Montserrat Springs Hotel, the black sand beaches; we all knew the connections to the volcano but no way could we fathom the time bomb of nuclear proportions ticking away beneath us.

But barring the admittedly drastic and permanent major adjustments to Montserrat’s landscape, the natural beauty of the island remains in breath-taking abundance, albeit on the remaining habitable one third.

As the song says “…there’s a beautiful unspoilt gem of creation that’s Montserrat…” To a large degree it still is.

Montserrat has been, and is being transformed. The latter is the rebuilding – a work in progress, the former is the reality that the volcano has laid waste to two thirds of the island.

What’s left ‘over there’ looks like some alien landscape. That the majestic Roman Catholic church that I attended (I’m a bit hesitant to say where I ‘worshipped’), is now practically buried; what’s left of the landmark War Memorial clock tower which stood about 60-odd feet tall is only the topmost bit protruding as if in a last gasp before it too is consigned to a grave of ash.

Perhaps that’s it. The southern part of Montserrat, to all intents and purposes, has been rendered a grave site. RIP the parishes of St Anthony’s and St George’s. Long live the parish of St Peter’s.

Fact is, this paradise AIN’T lost!

And that’s what impresses me most. What I have seen and experienced in the past week on the remaining, rejuvenated, remodelled, habitable third, has been nothing short of amazing. Unless you’d known about it, you would not think that there was the sinister spectre and scowling visage of an ash-spewing, shape shifting, monstrosity of a volcano just a few miles south that has obliterated two-thirds of the island – but which has quietened down quite considerably over the last few years.  From the natural environment, to the ongoing rebuilding, the welcoming nature of the people, the warm (OK Hot Hot Hot) sunshine …and also the ‘showers of blessings’, the paradise that is Montserrat is blossoming.

I accept that I’m seeing this through the eyes and from the perspective of someone who has neither had the direct experience nor witnessed the fury of the volcano first-hand. I’ve been away for over twenty years (I really hate doing that math because there’s an unavoidable age correlation) and I do have a massive amount of respect for the people who bravely stayed by choice or circumstance (I Just Can’t Run Away by the late Montserrat and international soca king Arrow[Hot Hot Hot], comes to mind.) But looking at the scale and extent of rebuilding and the plans for the future, I’m impressed. Very impressed.

Understandably, for some folks what’s been done so far has not been – done fast enough, well enough, or just plain not enough. Sounds normal to me. And it’s an election year! ‘Nuff said I say. Montserrat is returning to normal in a profound way and it’s a good feeling to be a part of that.
There’s much more to be done I accept, and there are opportunities to do even more. No doubt there will be challenges but as I recall, challenges tend to bring out the best in the people of Montserrat.

So, let’s all sing along with Rick Tyson Sullivan and Mantis- and if you can’t sing hum along or just listen – because Montserrat is still A Nature Lover’s Fantasy.

Michael L. Jarvis
London
UK

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

New Dir of Info an Coms

New Dir of Info an Coms

By Mike Jarvis

On Radio Montserrat/ZJB this morning, Rose Willock played the song Nature Lover’s Fantasy by Rick Tyson Sullivan. I know that song very well but hadn’t heard it in a long while. Well, I’ve been back home for one week now…and what a week it’s been.

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This is where Nature Lover’s Fantasy comes into the picture.

It’s a song, released in the 1980s as I recall, celebrating Montserrat’s spectacular natural beauty; a very mellow undulating reggae-tinged groove that reminds you of gentle Caribbean waves (which is what I think Rick, Randy Greenaway and the band Mantis had in mind when they wrote it), references to the island’s captivating scenic beauty, even the then-dormant volcano – now resting after a rude and destructive re-awakening, gets a mention, as does the ‘once-magnificent-now-literally- paved-over’ Great Alps water fall. Remember that? The Hot Water Springs – well, we sort of knew what that as all about. The scaldingly hot water coming out of the earth down at Foxes Bay, somebody boiling an egg in it, the rejuvenative properties of the (volcanic) minerals in the water spawned if not quite a health spa industry then at least the Montserrat Springs Hotel, the black sand beaches; we all knew the connections to the volcano but no way could we fathom the time bomb of nuclear proportions ticking away beneath us.

But barring the admittedly drastic and permanent major adjustments to Montserrat’s landscape, the natural beauty of the island remains in breath-taking abundance, albeit on the remaining habitable one third.

As the song says “…there’s a beautiful unspoilt gem of creation that’s Montserrat…” To a large degree it still is.

Montserrat has been, and is being transformed. The latter is the rebuilding – a work in progress, the former is the reality that the volcano has laid waste to two thirds of the island.

What’s left ‘over there’ looks like some alien landscape. That the majestic Roman Catholic church that I attended (I’m a bit hesitant to say where I ‘worshipped’), is now practically buried; what’s left of the landmark War Memorial clock tower which stood about 60-odd feet tall is only the topmost bit protruding as if in a last gasp before it too is consigned to a grave of ash.

Perhaps that’s it. The southern part of Montserrat, to all intents and purposes, has been rendered a grave site. RIP the parishes of St Anthony’s and St George’s. Long live the parish of St Peter’s.

Fact is, this paradise AIN’T lost!

And that’s what impresses me most. What I have seen and experienced in the past week on the remaining, rejuvenated, remodelled, habitable third, has been nothing short of amazing. Unless you’d known about it, you would not think that there was the sinister spectre and scowling visage of an ash-spewing, shape shifting, monstrosity of a volcano just a few miles south that has obliterated two-thirds of the island – but which has quietened down quite considerably over the last few years.  From the natural environment, to the ongoing rebuilding, the welcoming nature of the people, the warm (OK Hot Hot Hot) sunshine …and also the ‘showers of blessings’, the paradise that is Montserrat is blossoming.

I accept that I’m seeing this through the eyes and from the perspective of someone who has neither had the direct experience nor witnessed the fury of the volcano first-hand. I’ve been away for over twenty years (I really hate doing that math because there’s an unavoidable age correlation) and I do have a massive amount of respect for the people who bravely stayed by choice or circumstance (I Just Can’t Run Away by the late Montserrat and international soca king Arrow[Hot Hot Hot], comes to mind.) But looking at the scale and extent of rebuilding and the plans for the future, I’m impressed. Very impressed.

Understandably, for some folks what’s been done so far has not been – done fast enough, well enough, or just plain not enough. Sounds normal to me. And it’s an election year! ‘Nuff said I say. Montserrat is returning to normal in a profound way and it’s a good feeling to be a part of that.
There’s much more to be done I accept, and there are opportunities to do even more. No doubt there will be challenges but as I recall, challenges tend to bring out the best in the people of Montserrat.

So, let’s all sing along with Rick Tyson Sullivan and Mantis- and if you can’t sing hum along or just listen – because Montserrat is still A Nature Lover’s Fantasy.

Michael L. Jarvis
London
UK