Pilgrimage to the monastery on the highest hill in the land
May 16, 2017
Climbing this "mountain" is no herculean feat, but reaching the top is still a treat
The highest mountains in the world are all over 20,000 feet, so clearly, Mount Alvernia on Cat Island, which stands at a mere 206 feet, is not important for its objective height. It is important however, for its relative significance in a country, where 80 percent of the land is less than three feet above sea level.
Something you come to appreciate living in the Islands of The Bahamas is that the sea is always at your doorstep. And when you look out at the horizon or up towards the sky it is actually the sky that you see. There are no mountain ranges or peaks: clouds are perhaps the only obstruction. It is reasonable that Bahamians feel proud about their highest "mountain", even if it is only a small hill.
Visiting Mount Alvernia (also known as Como Hill) is no herculean adventure, but it is a worthy outdoor hike to a summit made sacred for two primary reasons: because of Bahamian sentimentality and because of the medieval-style monastery - hand built with native stone - that sits at its peak.
The first time I climbed Mount Alvernia it was as a child, and I did it because it was the thing to do in Cat Island. Now, when I visit, I go because I love the 360-degree view of the island from on top. I love that the hike is physical but not taxing, and when I reach the top I can climb on the roof of the monastery and daydream as I stare out into the sea.