I've always been fascinated by the stars; luminous flecks dotting an ink-black canvas with borrowed light. My breath-taking travel moment is a sky darker than most, a horizon that seemed planets away and the biggest stars I have ever seen. I'm not an extravagant traveller and I haven't seen much of the world, however when I was 18 years old I visited the Maldives with a boy who at the time was everything. He isn't any more though and my breath-taking travel moment certainly wasn’t romantic or clichéd - it was just me and the stars. Our island resort was small - an emerald fringed with sugar-white sand and cyan sea. I'd never been somewhere so exotic before and was mesmerized by the beauty and romance of it all. After an evening meal and some very sweet wine, I longed to sit outside and look at the sky. My boy was having none of this, happy to stay put and decidedly against my idea. After a few moments of arguing, I left our beautiful beach hut and wandered out towards the shore alone.
This is where it happens. This is my breath-taking moment. The night-time sky is so often marred by the opaque glow of manmade light, especially for those of us who live in cities. It's an amber wash, sticky and thick, tinting the sky and blurring the stars. Here’s the thing: when you’re hundreds of miles away from this cloudy glow and the only manmade light is from a few twinkling restaurant bulbs, suddenly the stars come into their own. I wandered out towards the shore line, leaving a trail of small footprints as I edged closer to the darkness. The sea stretched out for miles around me with no land in sight, liquorice-black and ghostly still. In the distance I could hear the gentle chatter of the other guests enjoying their evening drinks and each other’s company. I stopped at the water’s edge, on the delicate cusp between sand and sea, took one step back and lay down. There was silence now, save for the tranquil lap of the tide and the beat of my heart in my chest. As I lay there and looked up, I was overwhelmed and humbled by what can only be described as the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen. The stars, once tiny diamonds twinkling in my home sky, hung heavy and giant in the blackest of black expanses. Iridescent, incandescent, immobilizing – they shone with a gentle ferocity that I had never seen before. My breath was stolen. At that moment I felt insignificant, alone but enamoured; the presence of such vast beauty and such a clear glimpse from this world into the next was intoxicating. I tried to look away, to compose myself, but all I could was lie helplessly beneath this incredible spray of white-gold starlight. I lay bathed in crystalline light, small and acutely aware of being alone, reeling in the impossible beauty of these stars and their glow which had travelled millions of light years to meet me. The stars were so bright, so big and so beautiful and I was just there, an inconsequential dot on an otherwise perfect beach. It was truly the most moving, beautiful and breath-taking moment of my life.
Jessica May Price