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.
Our neighbors, Ron and Judy, after cleaning up from the Jouvert parade. Yes, after cleaning up.Cleaned 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.
From left to right, Scott and Noi from Symbiosis and Debbie and Larry from Tropical Blend. Everyone is ready for Carnival.John, Sam and Chris, ready to be in the Carib band.Members of another band.Later, 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.
Although John wasn’t dressed in costume, he enjoyed the glamour of Carnival.The island sent 7 people to the Olympics, one was Kirani James who won a silver medal.I’m guessing this costume wasn’t in honor of the Gators, but we can pretend.The shortknees group.
A 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.
While Grenada is called the Spice Island, the flowers are beautiful too.In the nutmeg plant, nutmeg is ready to ship to countries all over the world.Nutmeg is shelled and then floated in order to find the very best grade.Hand sewing the bags to ready for shipment.Bags are stenciled with their destination.A cocoa pod fresh from a tree.Chris and Sam with Cutty in the cocoa trees.One of Grenada’s chocolate factories.Grenada 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.A resort at the north west end of Grenada.An organic chocolate factory.Getting a tour of the factory by one of the owners. Only 5 people work here.Chris and Tillman Thomas, who is a past prime minister of Grenada. He was imprisoned by Maurice Bishop but freed when America intervened in 1984The 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.The 231 year old water mill that still runs the grinding machine.Inside the distilleryMaurice Bishop’s airplane. Bishop was a Prime Minister or Grenada and was overthrown in a coup and executed.From 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.
The little beach by the marina.Watching a container ship leave the Carenage at St. Georges.
Even Kirby gets to swim.
On the way up the hill to Fort GeorgeThe fort.The marina on the right.The Carenage That’s Sam on the fort’s wallFor 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.
On the glass bottom boat that took us to the Underwater Sculpture Park. That’s Eric, Scott’s son, Scott, and John enjoying the ride.Our captain and crew for the day.Chris relaxing aboard.One of the women at the bottom of the water.Part of the children’s circle.This is the adult circle. These are life-size figures.
Noi enjoying an after snorkel rum punch.Saying 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!