Carnival, Touring Grenada, and Enjoying the Beaches with Chris and Sam (August 7 – August 16, 2016)

Carnival, Touring Grenada, and Enjoying the Beaches with Chris and Sam (August 7 – August 16, 2016)

This was it! The week we had been waiting for since we arrived in Grenada. Finally the day arrived when we would have our first visitors during our stay on the island. Throughout our travels, arranging visits with friends and relatives has been difficult due to unpredictable schedules and, especially, weather. We really have not been able tell people where to meet us with any confidence, but Grenada is different. Because Grenada is below latitude 12 degrees 30 minutes, our insurance company approves our time here for hurricane season, July 1st through November 1st. Therefore, it is the perfect place to have company and we have been so excited that Chris and Sam from Connecticut would be joining us. We had a lot planned for their visit, such as a tour of the island that we had not yet taken, but first we would experience Carnival in Grenada, fondly called Spice Mas.

Sunday afternoon couldn’t come quickly enough for us as we waited for Chris and Sam to arrive. About an hour after their scheduled arrival on LIAT airlines, they made it to Grenada; unfortunately, Chris’ bag did not. Thankfully she had packed a bathing suit and cover-up, along with an extra pair of shorts and two shirts in her knapsack, plenty to get her through until the stray suitcase was scheduled to arrive at the boat later that evening. We took a walk around the marina and went for a swim in the pool before having a fun dinner onboard AfterMath. Exhausted after their long trip and layover in Barbados, I encouraged them to go to bed while John and I waited for the luggage to arrive. It’s a good thing we finally decided to go to bed around 11:00 rather than wait because the bag never showed up all week. Much time was spent making phone calls and trips to the airport to check for the errant bag, which was thought to possibly have been left in Barbados, shipped to Trinidad, or even sent to Guyana. Hopefully, it will still show up somewhere sometime.

IMG_4397Our neighbors, Ron and Judy, after cleaning up from the Jouvert parade.  Yes, after cleaning up.IMG_4404Cleaned up from Jouvert, but still partying.

Monday morning brought the start of Grenada’s national holiday Carnival celebration. Jouvert is the first of the parades and it starts about 3 AM with incredibly loud music being blared from trucks sporting huge speakers. Jab Jab people cover themselves in oil or even chocolate and parade through the streets wearing horns and not too much else. After the Jab Jabs, come people with paint that like to decorate the parade watchers. We planned on attending this parade, which started on the street right next to the marina, but between the early hours and the missing suitcase with old clothes, we just viewed what we could from the bow of AfterMath. Later in the day, when we walked through town, we met some of the celebrators who were still in the spirit of the morning.

IMG_4408From left to right, Scott and Noi from Symbiosis and Debbie and Larry from Tropical Blend.  Everyone is ready for Carnival.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJohn, Sam and Chris, ready to be in the Carib band.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMembers of another band.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALater, after dark, the next parade took place. This was the light parade and it is the one in which everyone can participate. To walk in this parade a “band” is joined; most cruisers, including us, chose the Carib band. These bands are just a group of people all wearing the same t-shirts and carrying and wearing the same accessories. I purchased our supplies a couple of weeks before the parade and we were all decked out in Carib (the local beer here) shirts, white hats that lit up and lighted necklaces, bracelets and swords. At around 8:00 we made our way up the hill to the beginning of the parade route where we hoped to find the Carib truck that would lead the band. At this point, you must remember that we are on island time. Nothing happens at any particular time and no one seems to know when it really is supposed to happen. The four of us hung around waiting for the Carib truck to pass by for a couple of hours until the loud music from the other stalled or extremely slow moving bands moved by us. The general plan of the bands seems to be that you move a little, approach the truck and get a drink of whatever they are serving (rum or beer mostly) and then repeat the process many times. Finally, we just got behind the Whitehall Rum band and followed them back down the hill where we got back on AfterMath. Although we never did join up with our band, we enjoyed the fun and camaraderie of talking to everyone around us and we loved seeing the fun outfits and many lights of other bands.

IMG_4418Although John wasn’t dressed in costume, he enjoyed the glamour of Carnival.IMG_4422The island sent 7 people to the Olympics, one was Kirani James who won a silver medal.IMG_4424IMG_4425IMG_4427IMG_4429IMG_4432IMG_4434IMG_4438I’m guessing this costume wasn’t in honor of the Gators, but we can pretend.IMG_4444IMG_4449IMG_4452IMG_4457The shortknees group.IMG_4461IMG_4467IMG_4480IMG_4483IMG_4491IMG_4493IMG_4501IMG_4502IMG_4507

IMG_4512A view of AfterMath from the parade route.

Tuesday brought the main event of Carnival. This was the day when the people of Grenada parade in the Pretty Parade. We couldn’t wait to see everyone in his or her fancy and expensive hand-made costumes. We were not disappointed. The atmosphere was one of excitement but no one, including the participants, really seemed to know what time the parade was supposed to start!   Finally we walked to the beginning of the route and eventually the fun began. Dancing in the hot sun with 90% humidity, the celebrants passed by sporting colorful, sparkly, huge or tiny, gorgeous costumes. The shortknees group came through sprinkling talcum powder along the way and asking for money as you took their pictures. Little children had groups, as did the seniors. People of every size and every age took to the streets in their outfits and glittered faces and everyone had a wonderful time.

IMG_4095While Grenada is called the Spice Island, the flowers are beautiful too.IMG_4096IMG_4104In the nutmeg plant, nutmeg is ready to ship to countries all over the world.IMG_4105IMG_4108Nutmeg is shelled and then floated in order to find the very best grade.IMG_4110Hand sewing the bags to ready for shipment.IMG_4118Bags are stenciled with their destination.IMG_4121A cocoa pod fresh from a tree.IMG_4123Chris and Sam with Cutty in the cocoa trees.IMG_4124One of Grenada’s chocolate factories.IMG_4125Grenada only produces dark chocolate.  60% cocoa means 40% is sugar.  You can buy anything from 60% to 100% here, but no milk chocolate at all.IMG_4135A resort at the north west end of Grenada.IMG_4138An organic chocolate factory.IMG_4143Getting a tour of the factory by one of the owners.  Only 5 people work here.IMG_4147Chris and Tillman Thomas,  who is a past prime minister of Grenada.  He was imprisoned by Maurice Bishop but freed when America intervened in 1984IMG_4154The sugar cane fields at River Antoine Rum Distillery.  The distillery has been in business since 1785.  They still grow their own sugar cane (the only distillery on the island to do so) and they use the same processes that were used at the business’ beginnings including the same water mill and grinding machines.  None of their rum is exported for two reasons:  the proof is too high for legal exportation and they simply cannot produce more than the island demands.IMG_4155IMG_4170The 231 year old water mill that still runs the grinding machine.IMG_4174IMG_4178Inside the distilleryIMG_4193IMG_4198IMG_4212Maurice Bishop’s airplane.  Bishop was a Prime Minister or Grenada and was overthrown in a coup and executed.IMG_4214IMG_4216From left to right, Dennis Noel, a past ambassador for Grenada to the US, John, Cutty, and Sam

Because we knew Chris and Sam were coming, we had been putting off taking a tour of the island. A resident named Cutty had been highly recommended to us as an excellent tour guide, and, happily he also owned a new air-conditioned van. We decided to book a private tour for the four of us for Wednesday. We were picked up at 9 AM at our marina and we headed out for an amazing day. Our highlights included a lovely view of the harbor from the top of the mountain, a ride through fishing villages, a visit at a peaceful resort, a tour of a nutmeg factory, visits to two chocolate factories, a tour of a rum distillery where we also had a lunch of local foods, views of the planes that were ready to take off on the runway the day the Americans landed in Grenada in 1984 and still remain to this day. We had a chance meeting of a past prime minister of Grenada and also of a past diplomat from Grenada, and we took a ride through the rain forest high in the hills. Along the way Cutty showed us and let us taste the countless plants and fruits that grow here including nutmeg, turmeric (called saffron here), lemons, limes, cocoa, starfruit, lemongrass, callaloo, mangos, avocados, cashews, and so much more. He literally drove along, stopped his car and reached out the window to pick most of the produce we saw and tasted that day. The general feeling is that no one needs to go to bed hungry on Grenada.

Interestingly, Cutty’s political views differed quite a bit from those of our tour guide, Randy, in St. Georges. Cutty spoke of the American “Intervention” in 1984, but seemed to believe it was more of an invasion. He felt that Cuba was, and still is, a great friend to Grenada, and that Communism would never have taken place in this country. Probably to keep his American guests happy, he told us that, although we intervened for the wrong reasons, it worked out well for the country. Just like in the United States, there are two sides to every political story.



Even Kirby gets to swim.

IMG_4224On the way up the hill to Fort GeorgeIMG_4226IMG_4229IMG_4233The fort.IMG_4235IMG_4238IMG_4239IMG_4250The marina on the right.IMG_4258The Carenage IMG_4264IMG_4271That’s Sam on the fort’s wallIMG_4272For the next few days of our visit, Chris and I, along with our cruising friends, went to cooking class while John and Sam went suitcase hunting at the airport, and then the whole group met up at a local brewery. We spent time in the water at the small beach at the marina, and on Friday morning we climbed the steps to view Fort George before we went to the market and fish market in St. Georges.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the glass bottom boat that took us to the Underwater Sculpture Park.  That’s Eric, Scott’s son, Scott, and John enjoying the ride.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur captain and crew for the day.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChris relaxing aboard.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the women at the bottom of the water.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPart of the children’s circle.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the adult circle.  These are life-size figures.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANoi enjoying an after snorkel rum punch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASaying goodbye to our boat of the day.

The last full day of Chris and Sam’s visit was Monday and we set off with our cruising friends from Tropical Blend and Symbiosis on an exciting tour. Grenada has an underwater sculpture park that was begun as a tribute to the culture of the island. The first structure was a circle of children holding hands and was designed to become a reef that would take on change as children change through their environment. There are other sculptures as well such as Christ of the Sea, a man at a desk, a nutmeg princess, a ring of adults, and an area where women are lying on the ocean floor. While it is difficult to truly capture the park on camera while snorkeling as structures are at varying depths, it was a wonderful experience and one I am glad not to have missed.

After a fun day at sea, we once again boarded the bus and traveled to the beautiful Grand Anse beach, one of the top beaches in the world, where we swam and had dinner, reliving the wonderful week we spent together.

Tuesday, August 16, came too soon and we had to say a sad goodbye to our dear friends, Chris and Sam. We look forward to finding them onboard again soon as our time is just never long enough together. We are happy to hear they have returned safely to home, and we hope that wayward suitcase shows up again someday!

In Memory of Jake – August 2, 2016.

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On August 2 we said our final goodbye to our loyal buddy, Jake.  It was a sad day on AfterMath and not one we will easily get over.  We rescued Jake from a dog pound in Connecticut over 12 years ago and he was a wonderful part of our family for all of those years.  Jake was a gentle giant who brought smiles to everyone he met.  We miss him so much.  Life on AfterMath will never be quite the same.


A Month in Grenada (July 4 – August 6, 2016)

A month in Grenada: a month with no deadlines, a month with no where in particular that we had to be, a month when it didn’t matter how much we accomplished on any given day, and a month where heat and humidity slowed us down and made us feel justified to spend our time relaxing, swimming, and meeting new friends. After a very busy life that started a year ago last March, when we sold our home and moved onto AfterMath, this was the first extended time when our lives were completely stress free. No weather to watch, no waves to conquer, no waiting for maintenance to be done; just an easy life in Grenada.

Transportation on buses in Grenada is easy and always available. Here, buses are nothing like those in the United States. First of all, they do not have a schedule; they just run all the time. Waiting for a ride more than a minute or two is very unlikely. Buses are really vans, that were probably designed to fit about 10 people, but they have been modified and it is not uncommon to find ourselves smashed in with 20 others. When a bus conductor sees a prospective customer nearing the route, which, for us, is just off the driveway of the marina, the driver honks and the conductor yells to see if a ride is needed. Buses stop almost anywhere and there always seems to be room for one more. Every bus has an assigned route, and Route One passes Port Louis Marina. These buses take us to St. Georges and to grocery stores, to beaches, and almost any other place we need to be nearby, all for $2.50 EC, which is equivalent to about $1 US. If we need to go somewhere not on the route but within a couple of miles of it, we just ask and the bus will alter its route for us, and charge just a little more. Music generally blares, paying for a ride can happen anytime the passenger likes from the time the bus is entered until the time it is exited, and to get the driver to stop, the passenger just knocks on the side or the roof. It all seems so crazy at first, but before long it is natural and easy and very convenient.

IMG_4052The beautiful Carenage in St. Georges, GrenadaIMG_4054Christ of the Deep.  This statue was given to the people of Grenada by Italy for saving the passengers of a burning Italian cruise ship.IMG_4059Randy is personable, pleasant, and knowledgeable.  He is a great guide!IMG_4060The lovely library.IMG_4063IMG_4064An old mailbox, still in use.IMG_4065The Sendall Tunnel connects the Carenage to the city part of St. Georges.  It was built in 1894 so that horses and donkeys would not have to climb the steep mountain that separates the parts of the city. These days, traffic goes only one way in the tunnel, but pedestrians walk through it while cars go travel through.  It is a scary experience!IMG_4072This lovely lady sells spices in the Spice Market.  Randy calls her his second mother.  IMG_4079Our first bus trip was to St. Georges. We got off in the Carenage so we could walk around the shops and view the scenery. Before long a very nice man named Randy approached us and asked us if we were American. When we replied affirmatively he told us how much he appreciated Americans and all they did for the island in 1984 when, in his opinion, our country rescued Grenada from Communism. Soon Randy was walking us all over the city, and, of course, it turned out that he was a tour guide. We were very happy we met him, though, and happily paid him for his services after our tour of a few hours was over. Without the help of Randy, we never would have discovered much of St. Georges and we certainly would have known far less of the history of the city.

IMG_4085Allendale waterfallIMG_4088Scenery at the waterfall.

Deciding to venture a little farther, we took a bus to St. Georges one day and then changed buses and went to Allendale waterfall. We are amazed at the windy, hilly roads in Grenada and I think we both were happy when we arrived at our destination safely and even happier when we were returned safely.

IMG_4277The Junior Comancharos, a steel drum band.IMG_4295The children were charming.IMG_4301IMG_4309IMG_4318IMG_4341IMG_4345IMG_4376Getting ready for Carnival is a huge task.IMG_4382IMG_4383IMG_4385

The month of July and the first week of August are busy in Grenada while everyone prepares for Carnival. One night Shade Man, also known as Patrick, arranged a tour for cruisers to attend a practice of a children’s steel drum band that was to perform in competition. Again filling a loaded bus, we headed for the hills, and, once there, were entertained by a large group of kids who we would guess ranged in age from six to sixteen. They were a happy bunch and they were just amazing. It was a fundraiser for the group so they had dinner and drinks available for purchase. It was there that I tried my first “oildown”, Grenada’s national dish made of meat, callaloo, breadfruit, dumplings and any other variety of vegetables and seasonings. Afterwards, we were able to walk through the trailers where women were hand-sewing costumes for Carnival. The process is daunting! Finally an adult group of drummers took over and we were, once again, amazed at the music made by steel drums in the islands.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEverywhere you go in Grenada there are fresh fruits and vegetables.


So many kinds of mangos.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPumpkins grow in Grenada, but they do not look like our Halloween pumpkins!

Grenada seems to always be celebrating something and one day it was a mango festival. There are many kinds of mangos, but it seems that everyone’s favorite is the Julie. They are large and meaty and are absolutely delicious. At the mango festival, though, mangos showed up in every form imaginable: mango bread, mango ice cream, mango jelly, and on and on. It was a fun way to spend some time experiencing more of Grenada’s culture.

IMG_2289Cooking class at True Blue BayIMG_2293

Another activity nearby is the weekly cooking class that takes place at True Blue Bay Resort. I have been taking a bus over with some fellow cruisers on Thursday afternoons for a fun hour or so of learning to cook some of the dishes native to this friendly island. The classes take place outdoors on a patio overlooking a lovely anchorage. There we have learned to make such dishes as callaloo stuffed chicken, fried breadfruit, pan seared mahi mahi with a passion fruit sauce, and callaloo soup. My new friends and I have been really enjoying our classes that take place every week. We watch the demonstration and then get to sample the fare for under $5 US.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy cucumber lady at the market place.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the spice market.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGetting some delicious tuna.

Of course, there is the market place in St. Georges, and no time in Grenada could be complete without getting there on a Friday or Saturday when it is in full swing. I now have a friendly older lady from whom I buy the most delicious cucumbers ever. I know where to go to get onions, fresh ginger, tomatoes, breadfruit, bananas, plantains, mangos, spices, and any other produce you can imagine. After I finish at the market place, I make my way to the fish market where fresh tuna is available for the equivalent of $3.50 a pound. Other fish is also available and besides tuna we have had some great red snapper fresh out of the sea.

During this month we have spent a lot of time in the pool at the marina, and we have attended a wedding celebration and a potluck dinner. The excitement really will start with our next post, though, when we will have Chris and Sam with us for Carnival and for exploring more of Grenada. We can’t wait to tell you about our time with them aboard AfterMath!