June 14, 2007 Thursday
Today we took a tour of the
. Had a nice air-conditioned van and there were
9 of us on this tour – all cruisers. We
had not met any of these folks previously.
We had the same tour guide/driver that we had last year when we went to
the Fishermen’s Birthday celebration in Gouyave. He is a nice man and knows his island
thoroughly. island of Grenada
First we visited a fort that overlooked
George’s, the capital city of Grenada. Actually there were 2 forts right next to one
another. One had been British and the
other had been French. The French fort
was the larger of the two and also was better preserved. Strange thing is that the name of the French
fort was , which does not sound at all
French to us. Fort Frederick Grenada
now uses for water storage. The lower levels of the fort are made into
cisterns which are connected by pipes to the city water system. Since the city is lower elevation than the
fort, this assists in providing water pressure to the city water system; sort
of a natural water tower since it is on top of a mountain and the city is down
near sea level. Fort Frederick
We saw several churches scattered about the island. Many still had evidence of storm damage from Hurricane Ivan back in 2004. Some churches had been totally destroyed in that hurricane and it appeared that no church on this island survived unscathed. Hurricane Ivan killed 40 people on
Grenada, and this is not a densely
was struck by Hurricane Janet. They received
assistance from many countries. Venezuela constructed many small houses and
shipped them to Grenada. These became known as Janet Houses, and they
are still found all over Grenada
and people are still living in them.
Now, these are very tiny “houses” – basically one room with a roof. Guess what.
The tiny wooden Janet Houses survived Hurricane Ivan better than any
other structures on Grenada. These basic wooden structures were 49 years
old when they survived a Category 4 or 5 hurricane! The 49-year-old tin roofs weren’t even blown
off! That is most impressive.
Many countries have donated or assisted by building things on
and not just because of hurricanes. We
saw bridges built by Taiwan,
Japan and France. We saw schools built by Canada, Great
Britain and the United States. The cricket stadium was built by the
Chinese. There are bridges, buildings,
churches and schools spread out all over Grenada which have been built by
assistance or donations from countries all over the world. However, Japan
insisted that Grenada agree
to vote to allow Japan
to continue whaling in exchange for building the bridge. I asked Cuddy how many years Grenada has to vote to support whaling in
exchange for Japan
building the bridge and he believes that this agreement goes on forever. Extortion???
should be ashamed to force a poor country to support this controversial
commercial enterprise in exchange for receiving a bridge that was needed to
complete the roadway down the length of the island. They should have either built the bridge with
no stipulations or they should have stayed out of it altogether. Grenada is divided into 4 parishes
and each is separated by a river, so they did need quite a few bridges built
and they really could not afford to build these bridges without outside
The views from the mountains were spectacular even on a rainy day like today. Cuddy, our tour guide, stopped many times and explained the trees and plants growing alongside the roads.
Grenada is known as the spice
island and literally everything grows here.
We saw cinnamon trees, nutmeg trees, cocoa trees and the very strange
cocoa nuts, various kinds of banana plants, passion fruit plants (gorgeous
flowers), lemon trees, lime trees, mandarin orange trees, starfruit or
carombola trees, chin-up trees (fruit looks like tiny limes but is sweet
tasting), trumpet plants, ginger plants, sandpaper trees (covered with very,
very pretty long white flowers), cashew trees, wild lemon grass, almond trees and
we can’t remember what else. We saw so
many different trees, nuts, fruits, plants, bushes and vines that it is
impossible to remember them all. For
example, the leaves of one tree are used to scent cosmetics and soaps; but we
can’t remember the name of that tree. It
had a very distinct smell. Too much to
absorb in one day.
Grand Etang is a large park in a rainforest area of the mountaintop. There are waterfalls and crater lakes at Grand Etang. Unfortunately, when we reached that area it was raining heavily; so we did not hike to the crater lake or waterfall as planned. But we did catch a glimpse of the crater lake through the trees. We also missed the monkeys because of the rain; but after my experience with monkeys in the Amazon Jungle last September, I really did not care that we missed seeing wild monkeys today. The rain stopped and we were able to visit
, where there were
beautiful plants and flowers and one small waterfall. There were 2 guys who jumped from the top of
the cliff along the side of the waterfall and landed in the pool beneath
it. Not that far of a jump but certainly
higher than we would have attempted.
Hey, anything to make a buck from the tourists. Annandale
The town of
was our lunch stop for the day. We
enjoyed a true Caribbean meal: Bill selected
jerk fish (which was quite spicy) and I opted for barbequed chicken. These were served with callaloo (sort of like
a spinach or turnip greens), yellow rice cooked with carrots and peas and onions
and other tasty things, steamed pumpkin, yams (which are very dry and coarse
textured), cooked green banana and dasheen (a Caribbean version of a potato
which neither of us likes). This was a
much larger meal that we normally eat mid-day, but since there was so much food
we could pick and choose what we thought tasted good and ignore the rest.
Next stop was the Belmont Estate, which is a very ecologically friendly cocoa plantation and processing plant. The grounds are beautiful and everything is run from huge solar panels. We were shown a display of various fruits and nuts that are grown locally and each was explained to us. Again, too much to absorb in one visit. They gave us samples of cocoa tea, which looked like normal hot cocoa or hot chocolate; except it is watery instead of milky or creamy. Tasted okay; but I prefer instant Swiss Miss, thank you very much. They also gave us samples of Grenada Chocolate. They make a 71% semi-sweet dark chocolate bar, as well as a 60% semi-sweet dark chocolate bar. We have been hearing from other cruisers for a year now about how great these chocolate bars taste. Well, they really are pretty darn good. Bill bought one of the 71% and 5 of the 60% bars. Each bar is about 7-inches long and 4-inches wide and ¼-inch thick. These should last us awhile and really satisfy that craving when you want a bite of very good chocolate and nothing else will do.
The bugs starting biting me while we were inside the processing building of the chocolate plant. And they didn’t stop for the rest of the afternoon. Our next stop was the Rivers Rum factory. We had a tour of the production facility starting with the water wheel that is used to crush the sugar cane. This rum factory has been in operation since 1785 and is still using the same water wheel, powered by water from a nearby river that they divert to a channel leading to the wheel. While standing down near the sugar cane residue that is discarded after the cane is crushed, the bugs again began biting me. So I had to leave the tour and go sit in the van. This meant that I missed the rest of the tour and missed the rum tasting – which I was all too glad to miss! Rivers Rum makes a 69 volume rum and a 75 volume rum. You can not board an airplane with the 75 volume rum! Apparently it is a fire hazard. So, of course, this is the rum that Bill chose to taste. He said it tasted exactly like gasoline. He claims to remember what gasoline tastes like from his teenage days of siphoning gas from one car to another and getting mouthfuls of gasoline. I imagine once you have tasted gasoline that it isn’t something that you forget. Bill chose not to purchase a bottle of Rivers Rum. BTW, the rum factory tour guide made a point of saying more than once that it takes 12 days to make a batch of rum. So that tells you right off the bat that this is not the quality of rum that has been aged 23 years.
Later we stopped at a beach next to a resort. This was in St. David’s Parish. As I said earlier,
Grenada is divided into 4 parishes,
which would be sort of like counties in the states. Each parish has one or more parliamentary
representative, depending on the population of the particular parish. One parish is so thickly populated that it
has 4 representatives. Anyway, this
particular beach in St. David’s Parish is Cuddy’s favorite beach on the
island. Seems that back in 1971 the
owners of the resort blocked off the beach to make it private for their
guests. This upset the locals so much
that they got the resort owner and tied him to a big almond tree down near the
beach. After their protest, a law was
passed that designated all beaches in Grenada as being public. A resort can be built on the beach, but that
beach must remain open for use by the public.
The residents of St. David’s Parish were the instigators of each of the 3 revolutions that
has endured. I may have these dates
wrong, but I believe Cuddy said that the revolutions occurred in 1795, 1955 and
1971. The funny thing is that each of
these 3 revolutions happened on March 12 and started in St. David’s. Why did they choose March 12 as the day to
overthrow governments each time they were fed up with the status quo?
The final stop on our tour was a roadside beer joint. This was a tiny one-room place; except that it wasn’t even a real room. Just partial walls and thatch roof with benches made from branches tied together.
Then we were dropped off in the parking lot at Prickly Bay Marina where we had left our dinghy this morning. We met a couple we know having dinner in the restaurant there, so we visited awhile and ordered a pizza to go.
Oh yeah, good news from our bank today. They have deposited the $953.04 back into our checking account that was stolen by the ATM/debit card fraud earlier this week. We still must file the paper claim form as soon as we receive it, but they have already returned our money. We talked to the other cruisers in the van today about this problem. Of the 6 couples we talked to today, 5 of us have had money fraudulently deducted from our banking accounts through ATM theft. Wow! It really is getting common. Lucky our problem was caught so quickly.