Discovering a country is all part of the thrill of traveling and how you find out about a destination such as Grenada when you get there, well that can be hard or easy too.
Do you just hit the ground running? Or make a more measured approach? Orientating yourself first is a pretty good method, maybe ask the locals?
Doing that is a good way to start, but which locals?
This decision can be crucial get it wrong and you could put yourself in real danger, get it right and the experience could be a real eye opener along with the learning experience.
A vision dressed head to foot in yellow, sporting hair and even his transport was colour coordinated in yellow too. Possibly as a first impression he would not be your first choice but this guy had such a high visual profile that he would be well known in the local area so that took care of the safety angle.
He had created himself an image, which suggested that he was likely to have an informed, and tourist savvy approach. If the hunch was right? He would know his patch and finding out about it would be an experience.
A YELLOW VISION IN GRENADA
Putting my Eastern Caribbean dollars on the line with ‘Cat Eye’ for a couple of days turned out as a great decision, he was indeed well informed. Passing on titbits of local culture as the yellow taxi toured the meandering roads of Grenada, one of the islands at the Southern end of the Caribbean. With photogenic waterfalls, a chocolate processing plant and even a downed Communist Russian plane were part of one tour.
His approach to his task was excellent the information flowed, as did the rum punches for his passenger as he identified an excellent and beautiful location for a lunchtime stop at La Sagasse Nature Reserve.
The tourism department could do well to give this man some type of award, self-motivated entrepreneur who interacts superbly with the tourists delivering the service that most organisations can only hope for.
After bouncing around on the roads of Grenada it was time for a change. Now it was time to bounce around on the Caribbean.
The choice was to try for the first time, sport fishing. The safety belt of the car made way for the rear-facing chair, no safety belt just the rod support between your legs, which you hoped, will assist you to pull in a 300lb monster from the deep.
Well that was not quite the case… 30lb was closer, but still an experience to keep in the memory.
The boat powered out from the beautiful harbour, over the stunning blue sea to the first fishing grounds. We took it turns to ride the hot seat. When a reel screamed it was game on. The crew raced to get the rod to the hot seat fisherman and then battle was joined the first catches were fairly small fry by sport fishing standards but for the party of first timers any catches were indeed a plus.
We each rode the hot seat several times during the four-hour session and the catch increased. Black Finned Tuna, Barracuda and then a couple Wahoo all joined us on the boat thrashing briefly around the deck before being dispatched by the experienced crewman George. The silvery flashes as the fish were pulled in were quite stunning their colouration fresh from the sea is amazing, what you see on the fishmongers counter is much faded in comparison.
Back on terra firma again a short taxi ride back to L’Anse Aux Epines via the traffic lights, which seem to cause more chaos than they are meant to alleviate and also the dead rat round a bout. This got its name after the traffic planners one night put two large tractor tyres and a large used calor bottle to make a mini round a bout. Residents decided that they did not approve and placed a rat on it, hence it’s now known as the dead rat round a bout. Perhaps we could adapt this practice to show disapproval for similar traffic planning schemes here?
Getting around by road of course there is a great option car hire is pretty easy you can arrange to collect one in advance and pick it up at the airport, but having experienced the roads of Grenada personally I would suggest let the likes of ‘Cat Eye’ take the strain. Yes you can be self sufficient in terms of mobility. However getting around is pretty cheap with ‘Cat Eye’ and his fellow tour guides, but going the DIY route does have its own hazards.
By the time you have taken into account, the mainly narrow roads, their steepness, the caveness drainage ditches, ‘take no prisoners’ driving from some of the locals, then there are the dogs, sheep, goats, you barely get the chance to take your eyes off the road. Looking at the view will be the last thing on your mind! Signage is there but not at the standard you would be used to. Your CDW insurance will be at risk too. Talking with one local he recounted being asked by an English driver “Can you direct me back to the main road?” His answer “You’re on it!”
The area where I stayed has a one of the best hotels on the island ‘The Calabash’ and several smaller ones along with some excellent apartments many on or close to the beach. Also there are a few restaurants and bars nearby to enjoy. Development is certainly on the agenda all over the Island, some good, some not so good!
Peter De Savery was building a huge marina and apartment complex Port Louis in and around the lagoon at St George’s the island’s capital.
The main harbour and what is called the Carenage in St George’s is stunning. The harbour regarded as the best in the Caribbean and rightly so from most angles it’s gorgeous. The colonial buildings that were not ravaged by the Hurricane Ivan of 2004 make a great backdrop to the blue and crystal clear waters of the harbour.
The step hill sides peppered with colourful houses, Fort George dominates its entrance all make the whole area so charming. Although there are some building that came through the hurricane unscathed it is the churches and the Parliament buildings did display how destructive this force can be. None of the main churches in the capital came through with their roofs intact. Even years after the islanders are slowly getting the money together to put the roofs back on their churches. But that still does not stop them worshipping, services go ahead roof or no roof.
Spice is Grenada, Grenada is spice. Famed for its exports of spices the Island once grew sugar cane on huge plantations. Hurricanes have been to blame in reducing nutmeg production as thousands of trees have been felled in the past in storms. The islanders are optimistic and the nutmeg plantations will recover.
Nutmeg, its co spice of mace the red covering around the nutmeg along with cinnamon are to be found all over the island in most shops. Nearly every tourist shop you will see spices for sale. In boxes, in coconuts, in bags they are made into necklaces and into anything that you could possibly think of. It seems sometimes that everyone is trying to sell you spices or they’re by-products. Drinks, jams, jellies syrups are all made on the island its impossible to miss them, but do buy some as it will help to put the nutmeg industry back to where it was and in a round about way help to put those roofs back on.