A Little Sanctuary in Second Life

Sanctuary; Inara Pey, February 2018, on FlickrSanctuary – click any image for full size

I don’t often get the chance to write about the mainland – a fault that is mine; so I was delighted when we had the opportunity to explore Sanctuary, a beautifully presented stretch of coastline in the continent of Satori, designed by Roxi Firanelli with help from her best friend (and Second Life photographer),  Darth Kline (ropedick). Spanning a stretch of land across two regions –  Afanasyev and Rideau – it is a photographer’s delight and a place rich in detail for explorers.

In looks, a good portion of Sanctuary has the feel of a careworn coastal town, possibly along America’s gulf coast. The buildings are old, slightly run-down, the roads unpaved and overlooking a bay dotted with sandbanks, one of which has the wreck of a coaster aground on it; a wreck so old, nature is gradually having its way.

Sanctuary; Inara Pey, February 2018, on FlickrSanctuary

There’s no set landing point for visitors, so I’ve arbitrarily selected the parking lot above the bay. From here, visitors can look down on an old board walk which has clearly seen better days and is home to three old houseboats, one of which has been converted to a eatery, and another is now home to a bar.  Across the road from the parking lot sit a little huddle a businesses, all of which have seen better days, the largest of which is a used car lot and auto repair centre.

These businesses are filled with detail which help to further bring sanctuary to life. Going by the car being repaired at the auto centre and bicycles outside the cafe, they still seem to be drawing in business as well.  However, they are bookended – if not overshadowed – by the two structures which perhaps best encompass  the broader status of this little corner of the world: a boarded-up motel, and a tumble-down, overgrown funfair and public swimming pool. These clearly speak to the place which has perhaps seen better times.

Sanctuary; Inara Pey, February 2018, on FlickrSanctuary

Across the water sits a small, rugged island, home to a working dock and wharf on its north and island-facing side (the southern side of the island appear to be privately owned) with trawlers tied-up alongside. The channel running between the island and the mainland looks to have once been swampland; there’s evidence of old tree having been cut down to clear the water, although some swamp cypress still grow on either side of the slowly-passing water while signs give notice of snakes and alligators. For the most part, these may not be easy to spot – with one exception: a cheerful (and whimsical) ‘gator is more content with standing on an ageing wooden pier playing a banjo than with floating log-like in the water. If you spot him, do consider leaving him a tip for his efforts!

Follow the old road up towards the abandoned motel and you’ll find a choice of routes to take: a grassy track down between the motel and its sign, leading to where the board walk below the rod comes to an end; or you can stick to the old road and following it as it switchbacks inland, offering an walk that eventually loops back towards to the coast; or you can turn off the road just past the old motel and take the aged stone steps climbing up into the hills behind Sanctuary’s southern waterfront.

Sanctuary; Inara Pey, February 2018, on FlickrSanctuary

All three route can bring you by turn, gorge and bridge to an abandoned farm sitting above the motel, buildings long deserted, equipment left behind, unwanted. However, take the grassy trail down from the road to where the broad walk ends, and as well as the path leading up to the farm, you’ll discover a stony trail curled past the old, converted machinery house sitting on its own pontoon. This trail will- for the keen-eyed – offer a way to where a set of steps are cut into the rock which offer a path north into Sanctuary’s northern end, in the region or Rideau.

“Roxi decided we needed a change there,” Darth informed me during our visit. “So please excuse the untidiness!”

In turn, the rebuilding work barely intrudes on a visit – but it was worthwhile knowing it was going on, as it definitely marked Sanctuary as a place to be revisited soon. As it is, the northern half of the build couldn’t be be more different to the southern end. Climb up through the rocks and follow the path through the narrow clefts and you’ll be brought to a place which – for me at least – brought out strong memories of Sri Lanka.

Sanctuary; Inara Pey, February 2018, on FlickrSanctuary

Down on the waterfront sits a copy of Eliza Wierwright’s Patron house: a open-sided villa which powerfully echoes Sri Lankan resorts designs in look and layout. Up the hill, behind this villa, tiered walls hide stairs that lead up into the high rocks, to where more clefts and steps cut and climb – the entire walk up from the beach putting me in mind of the Boulder Garden Hotel, Kalawana, Sri Lanka. The upper end of this walk is were work is being carried out, so I’m not going to reference more of it here – but will be back to see what Roxi and Darth produce there.

I genuinely cannot praise Sanctuary enough; it’s an outstanding design, rich in detail and full of contrasts, with the southern end of the landscape suggestive of America’s gulf coastal regions, as noted, but also containing little twists and touches  – such as the tuk-tuk vans – which might place it elsewhere. The tuk-tuks also provide a nice hook to the more tropical / Indo-Asian feel of the northern end of the land.

Sanctuary; Inara Pey, February 2018, on FlickrSanctuary

Undoubtedly well worth visiting and taking the time to explore carefully. My thanks to both Roxi and Darth for taking the time to chat, as well. Do keep an eye out for the more … unusual .. details of setting as well, which I’ve pointed not mentioned here, but which add a little edge to the scene.

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