Journey with Jo

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Saturday, March 31, 2018

St. Patrick's Festival in Montserrat

A few weeks back, I got the absolute pleasure of spending the St. Patrick's Holiday on the wonderful, beautiful, picturesque, underrated island of Montserrat.



For those that don't know Montserrat is an island in the Caribbean and is a BOT (British Overseas Territory). 

Blue field with Union Jack in the top left corner and coat of arms in the field


It is most commonly known for volcanic eruption that occurred on July 18, 1995, which destroyed a significant part of the small island, including its capital city, Plymouth. The volcano has been relatively dormant since 2010 and is kept on close watch by the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.

Why St. Patrick's Day
The island's Irish heritage dates back to the 17th Century when they first started inhabiting the island. They came as settlers to the island and eventually, as time and history progressed, succumbed to the power of British settlers. 
Tappin on the steel during the parade
Being that what it is, Irish influence is still alive and well today. The national flag features a woman that resembles the Irish mythical goddess Èriù. She also has in her hands a golden harp, which is the same symbol represented in Ireland's coat of arms. 
A green shamrock is stamped in your passport upon entry and Guinness beer can be found all through the island. Also, Montserrat is affectionately known as "The Emerald Isle", due to Irish history and a slight resemblance to the shape of Ireland. 

St. Patrick's Day is the only other place, besides Ireland, that is commemorated as a national holiday. This celebration is because of the former and also marks the same day in 1768, which African slaves initiated a revolt against slave masters. It happened on St. Patty's Day, because slaves knew many of the masters (who were Irish) would be in a celebratory mood (aka: drunk & merry). The revolt didn't end up being a successful one, but is still a major part of Montserratian history. 
 Miss St. Patrick's 2018

St. Patrick's Festival
This year marked the 250th anniversary of the slave revolt and I am so fortunate to have been there. My both sides of my family, mother and father, hail from Montserrat, so it felt like a homecoming to me. The last time I was there was in 2006, so this trip was way overdue.
Beach vibes with brother & stepmom
Bush rum, guaranteed to put hair on your chest!

Morning views
The official festival season this year lasted from March 9th -19th and was filled with events that included parties, religious celebrations, a theater production, and of course, an early morning Caribbean jump-up filled with paint and powder.
J'Ouvert morning with brother
The dirtier, the more fun!
Good times!
For me, this trip was super important because I got to connect with family and friends that I've not seen in a while. This trip was one of the more recent ones that I truly felt at peace and oneness with my environment. I definitely account that to the Montserrat blood that flows through my veins, but also to the island for being its quaint, beautiful place.
Friends & Family
Nothing like a good sunset
My goal friend
You're talking about a place not ridden with coastline resorts, stuffy tourists and the hustle/bustle those types of places ensue. To be able to relax on a beach without the hassle of locals selling jetski rides or jewelry (no shade) on vacation is priceless. I was able to go for morning runs and bump into familiar faces (and make new friends).  And let's not mention all the delicious food I consumed. 
Typical breakfast: sailfish, mackerel, herring

Fresh, fresh, fresh!

Family love!
All in all, the time I spent in Montserrat was superb. Because of this, I definitely plan on making my home country a destination of choice more frequently. 

I HIGHLY encourage you to visit this wonderful island if you haven't already. Whether it's in March for St. Patrick's Festival, December for Carnival, or any other time during the year, please add this gem of an island to your travel list. I guarantee you won't regret it!
Pure BLISS!
Have you been to Montserrat?
Heard of it and never been?
Never heard of it at all?
Comment below and let me know!

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