Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Grenada: A Very Interesting Island

A view of St. George's, Grenada from atop the mountain
We had another great WARC island tour with a very knowledgeable driver/guide. He was an environmentalist and stressed the importance of keeping the Caribbean pristine. It was obvious that the islanders don’t realize – or care about – what they are doing that is harmful. He also discussed the issue of HIV and the spreading of young men’s sperm without responsibility for the outcome. The result was a high percentage of fatherless children. Jobs are available but no one wants to work so they lay around. Very sad!

That's Victor, our Yellow Shirt, taking a jump!
On our island tour we visited the Concord Waterfalls in the St. John parish. I thought we were going to swim under the falls, but decided the air was too damp and chilly to be sitting in a wet bathing suit for the rest of the day. Quite a few of the others took a dip and some jumped off the cliff into the pool. Apparently, we were only at the lower third of the falls. It was a 20 minute hike to the second level and another two hours to the upper level.

Grenada is known as the Spice Island with nutmeg being their biggest crop. Most of their nutmeg is exported to Europe to be made into medicines. There was a cute spice shop at the falls so we bought some nutmeg and spices.

Bob checking out the cocoa beans

The most interesting part of the tour was the Dougaldson Estate, which is a working estate with buccans – buildings used for drying cocoa beans. There were huge wooden "drawers" that pull out from under the building to dry it in the sun.

They also grow and harvest cocoa and nutmeg there. The place is an institution and they should get it designated as historical so it won’t be torn down for development. The problem today is the lack of laborers to care for and harvest the crop. The young people don’t want to work because the government takes care of them.

Our guide gave a demonstration on several spices, how cocoa is processed and the history of the place. They grow many types of spices on the estate, but there is concern as to whether it can sustain operations. Of course, we bought some bars of chocolate and some chunks that you drop into boiling water, then add milk and sugar for hot cocoa.

While we were driving throughout the island, he pointed our various plants, trees and flowers. We visited the fresh water lake high in the mountain: Grand Etang Lake and Forest Reserve. (Etang is French for “big pond”)

It is actually an extinct volcano crater 1800 feet above sea level. It is said to be connected to Kick’em Jenny, an active submerged volcano located off the northern coast of Grenada. We will have to check to see how far off we need to be when we sail past it! Apparently, it has several areas of eruption in the sea.

One of the highlights at Grand Etang is the Mona Monkeys. Just take your bananas or mangoes with you and call “Wooo….Wooo….Wooo…” and the monkeys will come out at eat your gifts. Our guide had people stand next to the rail while he held the fruit. The monkey climbs onto your shoulders and grabs the fruit. Merc was brave enough to participate for the pleasure of the crowd. Thanks, Merc. I got great photos!

We passed several forts and historical points of interest with good commentary from the guide. One of the sites was The National Cricket Stadium, formerly known as Queen’s Park, It was the venue for the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup. The guide book said “It is frequently used for national celebrations, international sporting events and concerts.” Our guide said that is rarely used and is deteriorating just like so many Olympic Villages and sporting venues that are cheaply built, expensive to maintain and have no real use to the community once the event is over.  
My very brave friend, Merc!

Grenada will be an interesting island for us to explore more next season. It has many sandy bays and anchorages so it will be nice to slow our pace and hang out on the hook for tropical days and nights!

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