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Spicing Things Up in Grenada

November 17, 2010

Our next port of call was St. George’s, Grenada. Some of you may remember the United States military involvement in Grenada in 1983. At that time, Cuba had the Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop under house arrest. Bishop’s supporters rescued him and several cabinet members. As they proceeded to Fort Rupert soldiers captured Bishop, the cabinet members and two labor leaders. The soldiers took them to the fort and executed Bishop and the others. To protect U.S. citizens and students in the area, the U.S. invaded Grenada in October 1983. The military occupation ended in December 1983.

The memories of the U.S. involvement are still discussed by Grenadians, but the focus now is more on the wonderful spices that are grown there. Clovers, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and bay leaves are among some of the spices you’ll find on the island. Tourism and spices are the major sources of income.

Prior to disembarking, Mike and I ordered breakfast room service. We thought that having a leisurely breakfast on our balcony would be a lovely start to the day. We were wrong. The tray was delivered and we took it out to the table. We sat down to enjoy the eggs benedicts, tropical smoothie and freshly squeezed orange juice but soon realized that it was approximately 750 degrees on the balcony. We were sitting in the direct sun, and it was so hot, I think we could have cooked the eggs on the tabletop. We put on our sunglasses but that only reduced the glare. We looked at each other and began to pick up the food and take it inside to eat a leisurely breakfast on our bed.

We met Dave and Darlene and walked down the pier leading us to St. George’s. Today we were going to explore the town first and, then, maybe get a cab to take us to the other parts of the island—although the scenery was somewhat similar on all the islands—rain forest, waterfall, fort…but at least on Grenada, we could see some spice plantations—maybe.

As we walked through the security checkpoint, we were greeted by a steal band playing lovely Caribbean music.

Welcome to St. George's

From there, we were approached by many cabbies trying to get fares. In addition, there were the spice vendors vying for customers. One spice vendor, Ann Marie, took me by the arm and directed me to her stand. She started to tell me about nutmeg and how you crack it open and grate the inside nut for the nutmeg. I told her that I would come back to her stand because I didn’t want to buy anything this early and have to carry it around all day.

I was sitting on a bench and I noticed another spice vendor—an older woman in a beautiful yellow shirt. I snapped her picture and when I did so, she took me over to her stand and showed me her spices. I told her I would come back and I noted her stand number—“11”.

Number 11

Mike, Dave, Darlene and I headed down Bruce Street toward the Sendal Tunnel. The tunnel is a most interesting structure. It is narrow—about the width of a small 2-lane road. The traffic flows in both directions—and here’s the interesting thing—it is also used for foot traffic going in both directions. It was unusually congested on this day because the larger Young Street was closed so all traffic had to funnel through the tunnel. People walked in the traffic lanes, between the cars. It was very scary, indeed.

As we approached the tunnel an older woman grabbed my arm and asked if I wanted to buy a spice necklace, for $2. I told her that I would come back. She began to yell at me saying that she knew I would not come back so why didn’t I buy the necklace now? Truth is, the cash situation was a bit tight. We were told by our travel agent to take a small amount of cash on the ship and then, if more was needed, the ship had a bank on board. Well, not really. The ship only deals with a credit card arrangement and that is set up prior to the trip. The ‘Sea Pass’ is your on board credit card. The “bank” is actually an ATM machine which was not working. Mike and I began counting quarters…

Soon we hailed a cab. The traffic was too heavy, the vendors too insistent and the sun too hot to proceed on foot any longer. We found Douglas, a very quiet young man, who offered to take us around the island for a small price (Mike and I are counting quarters again). We agree on a price (enough quarters in hand) and the four of us crawl into the van.

Mike and I had the very back seats. Dave and Darlene sat in the middle. Soon, however, it became apparent that the air conditioning was not hitting the back seats and we asked Douglas if we could move up front. He agreed and I sat in the front, next to Douglas and Mike took the seat between Dave and Darlene.

I immediately started to fiddle with the AC and the fan, to which Douglas said nothing. Douglas drove northeast to where the ubiquitous waterfall was located. En route, we stopped to see some spice vendors. Darlene and I bought the spice necklaces and some nutmeg. Dave had agreed to provide us with a small loan until that evening when the ship’s casino would be open and we could get cash from them.

The waterfall was situated in a lovely park-like area. There were young men jumping off cliff next to the waterfall into the pool below—around 50-100 feet high. They, of course, were looking for money for their feats. They would jump when you paid them. This did not seem like a good idea on so many levels, that we said no, we didn’t want to see them jump. I asked one of the jumpers why he did this and he replied, “It’s my job”. There must be a better way to make a buck on Grenada.

We drove around the island, but Douglass was the silent type, and did not offer any type of travelogue unless he was asked. Then he opened up and spoke freely. He took us to the ubiquitous fort (where Bishop had been assassinated) and soon we were making our way back to St. George’s and the ship.

View from the Fort. Celebrity Summit and another cruise shipin the background

We stopped at the vendors near the security checkpoint and I purchased spices from the woman in space 11 and from Ann Marie. We returned to the ship, hot and sweaty, but smelling of spices. The crew handed us the ice-cold cloths and punch and we walked up the gangplank.

Tomorrow—Tobago and the Orinoco Flow



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