Caribbean misadventures #3: Under the Volcano...
When it turned out that I couldn't get a refund on my ticket to Montserrat, I decided to make it a day trip instead. Of course they stuck me with another fifty bucks for changing the reservation, but at this point, what the hell - I wont likely be this way again. So I got up bright and early, grabbed a bus to the central depot in town, then waited forty five minutes for the airport bus. I followed some airport workers in, and with trouble located my teeny tiny airport check in. Security was the usual hassle. Altho I do not see the point of asking someone to take off their flip flops so they must stand barefoot on a nasty mat full of unmentionable things. Once through, it was ok. The airline's check in clerk herself came to escort the three passengers to a waiting van that drove up to the six seater plane on the furthest side of the tarmac.
The post pubescent looking, crew cut, blond pilot opened the door, and off we went, towards the smoking island. Customs weren't there when we arrived. They slowly arrived and in minutes I was in Montserrat's empty, echoing airport... The pilot and officials disappears, as did the other two passengers. I spotted a taxi, and tried to negotiate for a tour. U am rotten at negotiating, and inevitably pay too much, but he was the only taxi in sight. He was a lovely older gentleman who wasn't really much into being a tour guide, but definitely did his best to show me Montserrat in two hours.
Its a lovely island, the side that is still inhabited. It is separated from the volcanic two thirds by kind of a mountain range. Once we crossed that range, I could feel myself having trouble with breathing, so I hauled out my 'Darth Vadar' mask and I was alright. It is an amazing sight to see. We could only go so far, as roads are closed down that go into the active volcano area, but people are still living in ash covered houses, surrounded by grey, ash covered trees with grey leaves.
There were beautiful homes and estates, and you can see them in the distance, all abandonded. We stopped by a friend of Joseph's and she gave me a taste of the guava jellies she made for sale. On the way to the airport, he stopped at his home and picked up some mangoes for me! Two hours later, I was back at the airport, and tweny minutes after that, going through immigration, back in Antigua. It was a long hot walk to the bus stop, and two busses later back, I was stripped naked, and eating those mangoes the only way it makes sense to eat them.... naked and right before a shower. Tomorrow i am heading to Barbuda, the sister island to Antigua.