Eruptions & Disruptions: A Journal

On Friday April 9th, 2020 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ La Soufriere erupted. Gary Bynoe, a young Vincentian shares a 5 day journal entry of his experience

April 10th: Day 3. Rumbling darkness.

As day 2 weakly passed on into midnight to begin the third day’s shift, the ash had already covered everywhere. The roads were empty, the entire village was still and the house was sealed to the best of our ability. Social media was filled with images and videos of the plume earlier. The local photographers gorged their lenses on the impressive visual spectacle. They tried their best to temper their captions to remain sensitive to the event, but there was no hiding the intrigue. All that came to an abrupt halt when everywhere suddenly went dark. The electricity had abandoned us. And with the house properly sealed, it was hot, stuffy and now very dark. We immediately felt imprisoned. Added to that, we were now able to clearly hear the powerful rumblings of La Soufriere.

I never anticipated how the combination of these elements would begin to play on my mind. Perhaps the devil found an opportunity he and his minions couldn’t resist but the moment I laid my head down it was like I had my own eruptions occurring in my mind, spewing cognitive lava all over my mental scape. The house was even hotter now. The darkness convinced me ever so often that I had actually lost my eyesight. The pitch black made me think of so many uncomfortable things; The end of days, being cast into outer space surrounded by nothing else but a black void, my senses just as empty and null. I was slowly being consumed in a way that felt like a big, black tidal wave of negative sensations slowly crashing down on me, pushing me into asphyxiation.

We had battery-operated lamp switches already mounted in different places and even though we had them on, they seemed to struggle against the darkness just as much as we were. Our voices sort to console each other. We tried our best to keep our minds in the light. That became more challenging when we thought of what our fellow Vincentians, displaced into strange shelters, must be going through. We prayed for them, for our nation, but mostly as a way to comfort ourselves. And that it did, or at least just enough for us to surrender the darkness over to higher power to deal with.

When morning came, we were relieved. We felt like we survived something meant to crush us. We were grateful. Electricity returned at some point, it’s still a blur to me. We gave God thanks regardless. I took to social media for updates while my sister put on the radio. I checked with my contacts and it seemed like it was a rough night for everyone. I personally tried my best to throw some light humour into the mix which a few person’s did express appreciation, but  It was so real to us now. We were going through a volcanic eruption. Outside was completely littered in ash. It covered everything. We dared not open a window and to go outside, we dressed to cover ourselves from head to toe. We were careful not to leave any openings and also to not transport the ash inside.

We were fortunate to have had food and water already prepped and stored and that lastminute grocery stop made life a lot easier. I was really concerned about how the ash might affect my sinuses. Prior research revealed that ash inhalation can cause permanent and painful damage internally. Volcanic ash may look like dust, but on a micro level it is far more hard and jagged, capable of serious damage. The majority of the day was spent navigating the ash, the internet, messages and calls, both local and foreign. It was worth noting that those of us on the  island were so much more composed than the Vincentian nationals abroad. They posted about how much anxiety they were dealing with, I suppose because of the limitations they had where information was concerned. We on the island, wasted no time cracking jokes, making memes and even, unfortunately, starting arguments over what all these events meant, the pandemic situation included. The majority of us just wanted to ease our minds, and those of our loved ones and pool together our strength to take this on day by day. 

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