Hello again, it’s time to share with you more details of our recent trip to Montserrat island in the Caribbean, and our work there.
As you may know, until the deadly volcano eruption in 1995, Montserrat enjoyed elite tourism, it was the place the world’s most successful music was born (Beatles, Police, Ultravox, Elton John, and many other top musicians recorded their albums there in Montserrat, at Sir George Martin’s Air Studios.) All that ended with the fateful eruption, when the volcano completely destroyed Montserrat’s capital and about 1/3of the whole island. (I have some fine photos from that capital, now branded with the name New Pompeii. The Volcano Observatory staff helped us with a tour through the “no go zone”.)
Now the government of the tiny Montserrat has started intensive works to build a whole new capital city in a different part of island – in the Little Bay and Carr’s Bay area, which will include a fine marina and marina repair facilities, a posh hotel and spa, luxury residential complex of villas, a fishermen wharf, local market, museum, city hall, court house, cruise ship terminal, you name it. All that, with full respect for local nature, eco-system, and with local residents in mind. The project is HUGE, and it’s mind blowing to think the whole new city with all its extra amenities will be built all at once, using modern eco-friendly technologies. It will be a city like no other. Beautifully designed as a totality, a whole seamless unit, modern and elegant – a real magnet for tourism, investors, artists, and so on.
To make it happen, this enormous project has to be coordinated with a new fast ferry, expanded flight services, new supply lines, and other things like that. It all has to be well timed – otherwise it could end in a fiasco.
To develop, supervise and coordinate this tremendous project, Montserrat government has hired John Cox, who used to overlook ALL British overseas territories’ developments. He has a vast experience in such huge-scale projects. He has worked all over the world, in countries like Pakistan, in Africa, and in the Caribbean as well. In recent years he’s been working independently, and now devotes his passion and skills to the Caribbean region.
We’ve seen plans and drafts, we heard with how much enthusiasm he speaks about it, and how much trust people have in him – be it the British Governor, Montserrat Government officials, opposition party, or just the regular guys in the street. His assistant – a modest and beautiful Japanese girl, Atsumi Kani – an architect who originally came to Montserrat 13 years ago as a UN volunteer and decided to stay – helps him at every step along the way. The whole team is truly dynamic, and we look forward to watching their miracle unfold.
So, what did we actually do there? Our job was to take photographs worthy making the best publications and brochures. Photographs that will make people look closer at this project, and decide to join it. Montserrat Development Corporation (MDC) is seeking serious investors who will be partners in this unusual adventure – people who enjoy breaking new grounds and want to share this vision for the new and unique Montserrat. A fantastic, modern architectural draft of the new city includes many luxury villas ready to buy, a hotel in need of investors, and other such exciting opportunities. A proposal is just being created, and our photographs will be part of it.
We are truly happy our photos will assist this fantastic project go ahead, and we’re glad our humble advice as to designing and printing promotional materials will help improve their overall quality.
We’ve tried to capture the beauty of this tiny island, its fine and friendly people, sandy beaches, nature, and of course the volcano in its present state – an additional attraction not possible to see on most other tropical islands.
During our short stay another idea was born – a fine hardcover book documenting the whole process, the rebirth of Montserrat – a true Phoenix out of the ashes! Such a book can be a very important part of Montserrat’s recorded history, an eye-opener for many visitors, and a reminder of the struggle of Montserrat’s brave, tiny nation – the hard period of devastation, followed by the remarkable desire to restore the island’s life and move forward. A book perhaps of generous size, similar to our Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean – elegant, yet powerful chronicle of this epic journey.
Keeping this idea in mind, we also did some documentary photographs from the destruction zone, and we experienced the eerie feel that stays with this “New Pompeii” right up to the present day. As you place your first step on the ground covered deep with volcanic ash – you turn silent…just trying to comprehend what really happened there those 15 years ago…
The moment of destruction is registered at every step, like frozen in time. Personal belongings scattered in panic and visible through broken windows of houses half-buried in lava, mud and ash… offices hurriedly left in the middle of work… pages of musical scores dropped on the floor of a shattered church – perhaps left behind by members of an evacuated choir… – All these things tell a gloomy, painful story not to be forgotten in Montserrat.
Thankfully, now the volcano is under strict observation by the world’s best scientists, and danger zones are clearly drawn – in case of the volcano’s repeat activity.
Everyday life is back to normal in the northern part of Montserrat – the lush, green hills which are safe from danger.
This was one remarkable trip! We’ve made new friends, learned a lot – and we look forward to continuing working with the whole team for years to come.
Hopefully these few photographs can give you a glimpse of this fine, unique Caribbean island and its brave nation. But – as we experienced – nothing beats the real thing. So if you feel like having some adventure, pack your bags and go for a Montserrat vacation, see for yourself how much this tiny island has to offer.
Until next time, thanks for stopping by.
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PS. Images are copyright of Ozone Zone Books, Canada and Derek Galon. Please respect that.