August 6 - September 5, 2008
Journal 14; Grenada
We returned to Grenada and El Regalo in early August after two weeks in the U.S. visiting family and friends and one week in Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico to participate in Ashley and Ryan’s wedding. El Regalo was safely returned to the water and we are now back at home.
The big event in Grenada is their August celebration of Carnival (or as they call it in Louisiana, Mardi Gras). There is no religious significance to Grenada’s Carnival; it’s just an excuse to party. Trinidad has the biggest Carnival in the Caribbean celebrating Lent so Grenada moved their Carnival to August to not compete. The street party/parades began on a Monday morning. Why waste a weekend for a party? All of Grenada businesses close on Monday and Tuesday for the celebration. Parade goers wore lavish and exotic costumes. There is a competition concert for the best song of the year and the best parade group. As you can see in the photos, the parade participants came in all shapes and sizes. Grenadians are normally very polite and reserved but for Carnival, watch out! Their inhibitions are
left at home and the young women spend the day ‘dry humping’ every speaker box, flag pole and fellow marcher along the way. Little school girls marching in the parade staring at the older women dancing and you could see their little hips gyrate to the music. Carnival was “educational” in many ways and words cannot adequately describe the street debauchery but it was certainly a wild two day party!
This photo is a local riding in the back of a parade truck wearing a Haggar golf shirt. It would be interesting to know how he got the shirt but we couldn't understand much of what he said to us.
JoDon and I also participated in two more hash runs and got to know more remote areas of Grenada. Each hash is different but in the last hash we were soaked by torrential rain from the moment we started throughout the entire 1.5 hour run/walk/slide. The mountain
trails became treacherously slick with the pouring rain. Going down the mountainsides was especially difficult with the mud. You had to grab hold of any plant or tree available although we discovered after grabbing on, many of the trees had harsh thorns. At one point, I slipped in the mud, slid down the trail and finally stopped in a cactus patch. Ouch! JoDon's white shirt wasn't nearly this white at the finish line. The other hash was a moonlit hash so we ran/walked in the dark using a flashlight; (or as they say, ‘a torch’).
We also did some hiking on our own. One trail was along a mountain ridge. In Hong Kong they called these ridges ‘dragon backs.’ On the trail to Mt. Qua Qua, the ridge along the top of the mountain was only as wide as the narrow trail path, about 24 inches wide. To both the left and right of the trail the mountain dropped severely for several hundred feet. It certainly was no time to stumble off the trail!
The other hiking adventure was to the Seven Sisters water falls, appropriately named for the series of seven falls. We opted for the adventurous route with a guide, Cliffon, by hiking through the jungle to the upper falls barefoot and in our bathing suits. From the top fall you jump into its pool below and then keep repeating the process until the last cascade. The sixth fall is the tallest; about 35 feet high, but when standing at the top of the falls, knowing that you have to jump out and across some rocks, it appears 135 feet high! Once you have jumped down the first five and get to number six there is no way to hike out. Somehow we both summoned enough courage to make the plunge and we both landed most ungraciously. But as they say in golf, “We didn’t come to Grenada just to lay up.”
We didn't jump this one!
We made the decision to do the jumps viewing the falls from here. It didn't look too bad.
But... look at it up close.
Brian swimming after the jumps and Cliffon our guide with beautiful Grenada in the background.
We also rode a bus to visit a rum distillery, Westerhall Estates. The distillery, like most throughout the Caribbean, was an English Plantation that began in the 1700’s producing cotton, sugar and spices. African slaves were imported to sustain the plantation. The great plantations of the Caribbean fell upon hard times with the collapse of the world sugar prices in the late 1800’s and most fell into disrepair. Many of the plantations ‘Great Houses’ have now transitioned into guest houses, hotels and restaurants. What still exists today of the Caribbean sugar industry is in great decline. Westerhall Estates imports the raw alcohol from Trinidad and distills the rum according to their formulas for their different labels. Westerhall’s most popular label is what the locals drink. It’s cheap, 130 proof and burns all the way down. They also make two top label products that are very good and a Cuban
style of rum that they ship to Miami. The Cuban rum includes tobacco that gives it a distinct flavor: like drinking rum from a dirty ashtray. But, if you’re smoking a cigar while drinking this rum, I suppose it all ends up the same.
Spice Isle Rum Punch
One ah Sour ……..(1 Part Lime Juice)
Two ah Sweet …...(2 Parts Simple Syrup)
Three ah Strong ..(3 Parts Rum)
Four ah Weak …..(4 Parts Water, Orange & Pineapple Juice)
A splash of bitters & a dash of nutmeg.
Serve with ice
The days have a way of passing in Grenada. As throughout the Caribbean, “hurry up” is not part of the vocabulary or way of life and it’s addictive to adapt to a slower life style. We have spent a great deal of time reading because the cruising community has a monthly book swap and we have traded about 50 books. We spend our mornings listening to various weather forecasts and grateful to have avoided Dolly, Gustav, Ike, and all of the other hurricanes to the north. In’sha’Allah, our luck will continue!
Doing normal errands occupies a large portion of our time since we have to walk and/or take buses to the stores. Grocery stores in Grenada are fairly modern and overall they offer a good selection of products. Many of our favorite U.S. products are not available but there are substitutes. The best day for grocery shopping is Friday. The supply boat arrives in Grenada on Wednesday so by the time the boat is unloaded, etc., the best store selections are on Fridays. When they run out of products, like eggs, you have to wait till next week for the next boat to arrive. Meat is expensive so grocery stores carry large selections of
St. George's, Grenada
cheaper cuts. Frozen pig trotters (pig feet), turkey legs sliced diagonally across the bone, chicken feet and ox tail are prominent. There are large selections of New Zealand goat and mutton, which are our favorites. Thank goodness we have a pressure cooker to soften up these tough pieces of meat. Chicken breasts are rarely found; mainly its frozen legs, thighs and backs. Sometimes there are whole chickens for sale but they cost about US$12. One store offers Brazilian chicken slaughtered according to Muslim requirements using a sharp knife. Vegetables are ‘hit and miss’ and, like Hong Kong, much of it comes from Salinas Valley, California.
After about one month anchored in Prickly Bay we decided it was time to move on to the Island of Tobago. The weather forecasters predicted NE-E winds for our SE destination so we decided to depart at midnight with a 2 pm Tobago ETA. We prepared the boat which included lifting and cleaning 30 feet of the anchor chain. The anchor chain from the waterline to the sea floor has some nasty organisms that grow on it. The longer in the water, the more growth, so it took us about an hour of scrubbing and power-washing the gunk off. Uch! The wind gods were not kind to us and we encountered strong currents between the islands of Tobago and Trinidad (same country but different islands). As a result, we motored the final six hours of our trip to make landfall before sunset. Just to make things exciting, we burned a fan belt while motoring and I had to change the belt while at sea. Thank you Charles for the extra belt and thank goodness the seas were calm while working in the engine room.
All turned out fine and more about Tobago next month.
Best regards and fair winds,
Brian and JoDon
Local fishing boat going to work.