Thursday, May 31, 2012

....that Montserrat mystique

Brilliant green rugged cliffs rise sharply from the impossibly blue Caribbean in this tiny jewel of an island.  The relaxed atmosphere belies the trauma that has been suffered from the violent eruptions of the Soufriere Hills, beginning in 1995. Montserrat's capital city, Plymouth, was wiped out, along with its major sources of income. Since then, over half of the island's population has moved away, and a large segment of the south is in the "exclusion zone" with travel there prohibited.

If the delightfully sweet ocean breezes and the easy ways and smiles of the Montserrations could be bottled and sold, this would be one of the wealthiest countries on earth!  Each night of our stay at the Erindell Villa Guesthouse, we were lulled into the deepest sleep by the singing of the crickets, frogs and the wind in the coconut trees. 


Helicopter at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, with the steaming, cloud-covered Soufriere Hills volcano in the background



Miles from the eruption site, the ash river from the pyroclastic flow created new land in the sea while destroying the communities and golf course nearby.
But just around the corner from the destruction is sweet, laid-back life....colorful island style:
















And did I mention church? A more lively bunch of believers you'll never find!  Tambourines a-plenty, hankies waving - Soca (Southern Caribbean) music in full swing.  They are living it out:  "Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away." Isaiah 35:10














Wednesday, May 23, 2012

World Trade Center Memorial

Quite a treat to have an overnight in Newark, NJ en route to our next destination.  From Newark's Penn Station, is was a quick trip on the PATH Train straight to the World Trade Center.  The Freedom Tower is well underway in construction, and many of the other buildings are following right behind.  The Memorial is only available to those who have passes, something we weren't aware of.  But there were extra passes that evening at the Visitor's Center - what a stirring tour of the beautiful grounds that so evoke the memories of that awful day, September 11, 2001.










video



North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains

Western North Carolina, in the south-eastern U.S. (how's that for a perfect blend of directions?) is a stunning show of every shade of green in late May.  The Blue Ridge Mountains are like densely forested folds of thick corduroy all scrunched together as far as the eye an see.  

Spring is in full swing along the Blue Ridge Parkway between Asheville and Franklin in western North Carolina.

The Graveyard Field's Second Falls have a sixty foot drop over the course of about 100 yards - an easy walk and scamper over rocks.

But while enjoying the falls, I looked behind me and found this snake!  I'm so used to living in Hawaii where there are none, I quickly decided it was time to go.




Bob and I in a meadow on Wayah Bald in the Nantahala National Forest
The lookout tower on Wayah Bald, situated on the Appalachian Trail
The Wilson Lick Ranger Station, built in 1916, now a piece of history on the way to Wayah Bald. 
The Inn in Franklin, NC - our home for the weekend
Baling hay - LOVE the smell of the fresh cut!
Blackberries that I wish I was on-hand to taste in another month or so, along the Little Tennessee River Greenway
The Blue Ridge Mountains form a stunning backdrop to the Mill Creek Golf Club

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Brazil

We go to Brazil almost every year, and love it!  We've grown friends with so many there that it's almost like going home when we touch down in Sao Paulo, and hear the musical Portuguese once again.  I've been attempting to learn the language, and have hobbled along for a number of years.  Just about the time I grow comfortable visiting with someone, its time to head out again.  

Here's a very small collection of photos from our visit in February to Campinas, Bragan├ža Paulista, Londriha and the bustling city of Sao Paulo.  Saudades!!