Grenada – Caribbean Delights

Hibiscus flower

Hibiscus in front of our Grenada apartment.

Grand Anse Beach

Perfect beach for strolling.

Catamaran rental on Grand Anse Beach

Tranquility.

Coyaba Resort Grand Anse Grenada

Idyllic resort villas line the beach.

Path near Eco Dive hotel

A path through thick vegetation

begged to be taken.

Grand Anse Beach

Looking back at Grand Anse beach.

Quarantine Point Grenada

Quarantine Point's picnic benches are kicked back.

View of Magazine Beach Aquarium Resort Grenada

Looking towards Magazine and Pink Sand beaches.

Quarantine Point Grenada Morne Rouge Bay BBC Beach Grenada

Morne Rouge Bay (BBC Beach).

Traffic circle near St. George's University

Traffic Circle near True Blue Bay and St. George's

University.

Carib Beer billboard at Grenada Breweries

So this is where Carib beer comes from!

School Crossing sign

School Crossing....

Yield sign

Both Brits and North

Americans are

acknowledged.

Oleander flowers on fencepost Mangroves

Exotic plants and trees are

everywhere.

Sailing Yacht Serengeti

Serengeti, 70-year-old wooden yacht that hosted

Frank Sinatra and other celebrities.

Rice Honeywell invites us aboard

Rice Honeywell aboard Serengeti.

Seawind Catamaran with a car parked under it.

A catamaran out of the water makes a great car port.

Cruisers paint the bottom of their sailboat

Cruisers painting the bottom of their boat.

The buses have names.

Caribbean home in Gouyave Grenada

Decked out for Christmas.

Decorated front wall of home in Gouyave Grenada Gouyave Grenada prepares for Fish Friday

Gouyave town streets.

Osprey Ferry Lines boat in St. George's harbor Grenada

Osprey Ferry will take us to Carriacou.

The Carenage Grenada

Views from the ferry: The Carenage.

The Carenage Grenada

St. George's homes.

Government buildings on the harbor Grenada

Government buildings in St. George's.

Hillsborough Carriacou

First glimpse of Hillsborough on Carriacou island.

View of the Grenadines from Paradise Beach on Carriacou in Grenada

Holy smokes, this is the view from our balcony!

View of the Grenadines from Paradise Beach on Carriacou in Grenada

We are literally ON the beach!!

The Islands of Grenada & Carriacou

Late December, 2009 - The flowers and plant life are very lush on

Grenada.  The island has a volcanic origin, so it has a mountainous,

rain forest interior.  Outside our apartment there were hibiscus flowers

that were the most luscious and subtle shade of light burgundy.

We took a walk down to Grand Anse beach one day and decided to

keep on going.  The beach is two miles long and is lined with shrubs,

palm trees and low lying resort villas.  The north end of the beach is

busier while the south end of the beach (closer to where we were

staying) is very quiet.

Occasional vendors strolling the beach offer goods ranging from sarongs and

fragrant spice necklaces "to hang in de kitchen" that are made of ginger,

saffron and nutmeg, to birds and baskets made of cleverly woven palm fronds.

One fellow even offered us a coconut he had picked, "The milk is good for your

heart and lungs and liver."  Local families gather under the trees while the kids

play in the waves.

Keeping an eye on everything, security

people in crisp white shirts and

pressed pants, all employed by the

resorts, make a quiet presence in the

background.  At first we were nervous

leaving the camera and cash in our

bag when we went swimming, but we

soon realized it was safe enough.

Tourism is the biggest source of foreign revenue for

this small nation, and I get the sense that all citizens

consider themselves participants in this industry.

From the homeless-looking fellow who eagerly gave

us detailed directions to the hurried professional

who stopped mid-stride to offer guidance, we found

that politeness and genuine friendliness were the

norm.  The only hard part is understanding their

thick Caribbean accent.  They hear the American

accent all the time on TV, but we never get a

chance to tune our ears to theirs.

We waltzed down the beach

admiring the beachfront resorts,

deciding which of the many

hundred dollar per night joints

would be our preference if we

had to choose.  Passing a very

busy dive hotel at the far south

end of the beach we discovered a

narrow path up the hill through

thick jungly

brush.  When

we emerged on

the road at the

top of the hill

we looked back at Grand Anse.  What a view.

Descending the other side of the hill we came across Quarantine Point, a

local park on a picture perfect bluff.  Picnic tables strewn across the wide

lawn epitomize the relaxed atmosphere in Grenada: even the benches

were kicked back.

Cliffs stretched

into the

distance along

one side of the bluff.  St. George's twinkled on the other side, as the bluff

dropped off to pounding surf on a beach below.

We strolled a

little further

down the road

and found

Morne Rouge

Bay,

nicknamed

BBC Beach after a beach bar that used to be there..

A cruise ship

excursion boat,

"Rhum Runner"

was tied off at

the beach.  The

boat's loudspeakers were pumping out the jams with that intoxicating

Caribbean beat.  The water was rippling with Italian tourists, the men in

impossibly small speedo bathing suits and the women in even smaller

bikinis.  All were over 50.  A tour host had a tray of drinks in his hand

and he waded through the water offering them to his guests.  Not able to

sell the final few, he started doing tricks with his tray, delighting everyone

as he ducked under the water, tray held aloft, and then resurfaced.  In

one corner a husband videoed his wife as she played in the water.

Struggling to understand the Caribbean accented English of the hosts,

and not having any hope of understanding the Italians, we laughed along with

the crowd, swept up in their happy spirit.  It was a great day in a great place.

Climbing the very steep hill behind our apartment one morning, we saw

sailboat masts in the distance.  That was enough of a lure to get us to walk

along the busy road to Prickly Bay in the neighborhood called True Blue.  We

carefully picked our way along the sidewalk of the main thoroughfare as cars

flew by us and pedestrians hustled along.

Off the beach, Grenada is a very busy

place.

Having enjoyed a few locally made beers,

we were pleasantly surprised as we

passed the Grenada Breweries.  They

brew not only Carib but Heineken and

Guinness among others as well.  We

popped our heads in and found out

they give tours and decided that

might be a good thing for a rainy

day.

We got a kick out of the street

signs as we walked.

Turning down the road to the bay

we passed some wonderful

houses.  One in particular had a

beautiful white fence loaded with

pink and white oleander flowers.  On the plane coming to Grenada we

happened to meet the owner of the True Blue Bay Resort.  We

wandered through his pretty property, but he wasn't in at the time.

Down on the docks we found more unusual plant-life and many bobbing charter sailboats.

At the end of the dock was a huge wooden sailboat.  Pausing to take a photo, we suddenly

heard a voice calling out from the deck.  "Come on aboard and have a look!"  Wow.  He didn't

have to ask us twice.  This boat, named Serengeti, turned out to be a very special 75 foot yacht.

Used over the years by celebrities ranging from Frank Sinatra to Vivienne Leigh to Alan Alda,

the current owner was in the process of taking it westward to the Panama Canal and then up to Vancouver.

The deck was enormous, the wheelhouse even bigger,

and the accommodations below sprawled out in

comfort.  Our host, Rice Honeywell, was a very happy

Canadian who was helping the owner move the boat.

He was thrilled at his good fortune of landing this

crewing gig and being able to get away from work long

enough to take advantage of the opportunity.  We

chatted at length about sailing in the islands and making

ocean passages on this spacious 100 ton yacht.  We

later checked out the yacht's website:

www.serengeticharter.com.

Walking back we discovered one of the main boat

storage facilities in Grenada.  Sailboats of every

description were waiting for their owners to come down

to Grenada for a little wintertime fun.  I'd never thought

of it, but catamarans make perfect carports, and

several cats had cars under them (probably the rental

cars of their

owners while

they worked on

the boats to get

them ready to

launch).

A hard working

crew was busy

painting the

bottom of

another boat.  As they rolled the paint on with very long-handled rollers we

joked with them, "So this is what the cruising life is all about!"

For bad economic times, there was a lot of house construction activity in the

area.  Walking back, we passed a group of guys painting houses.  One guy's

black pants and shirt were covered in paint splatters just like a Jackson Pollack

painting.   He must have been doing house painting as a side-job to running a

bus, or vice versa, and he appropriately named his bus "Wet Paint."  All of the

buses have names, some funny and some that make you scratch your head.

"Rookie," "Irish Hour," "First Class," and "Spit it out" caught our eyes.

Fish Friday is a big

event held every

Friday night in the

community of

Gouyave

(pronounced "Guave"

to rhyme with

"suave") halfway up

the west coast of the

island.  Hopping on a bus into St. George's, we squeezed in.  As we

approached town, the guy I was squashed up against suddenly said,

"You're the lady from the beach."  I turned and recognized his face.  He

had actually approached us on two different days, selling spice necklaces

that were, of course, better than anyone else's.  What a small place

Grenada is.  Here I found myself pressed up against this beach vendor in a sardine-can

minibus, thigh to thigh and arm to arm.  He introduced himself as John, and we shook

hands, but the bus was at the terminal so we didn't get a chance to talk any further.

The second bus, up to Gouyave, was a 45 minute roller coaster ride up and down and

around impossibly steep, narrow and twisting roads at breakneck speed with 18 adults

and two lap-sitting children packed on board.  Little pockets of homes tucked into richly

forested coves and hillsides greeted us at every turn.  Considering Hurricane Ivan took

out most of these homes just five years ago, I was amazed at how little evidence

remained of that maelstrom.  Just a rare home here or there had been abandoned,

roofless, windowless, and sometimes wallless too.  We learned later that when the

corrugated metal roof of your house wound up in a tree down the block after the storm,

you just went down there and

got it and nailed it back on.

Grenadians banded together to

rebuild.

Gouyave is a fishing town, and the

homes were packed together,

separated by skinny streets.  Stalls

were set up everywhere to sell fish

tacos, fried fish, baked fish, fish

stew and soup as well as other

goodies to make a great meal.  The

cooking was well underway when

we got there and the whole town

had a yummy aroma.  This town of

9,000 people, a little less than 10% of the country's total population, sits on the shore backed

up to a tropical jungle.  The thick palm trees, banana trees and other lush vegetation covered the hillsides all around town.  A cop

greeted us as we got off the bus, the lone white people in town.  He showed us the police station and assured us that the event

would be well patrolled.  He wasn't the only one watching us, though.  When a slightly deranged fellow came up and started talking

gibberish to us, several locals made gestures to us and lured the man away.  Fish Friday is an event that Grenada wants to share

with tourists, and I got the distinct feeling quite a few people in town had an eye on us to make sure we enjoyed ourselves.

The real festivities don't get underway until well after dark, and not

being night owls and being nervous about catching late buses back to

our apartment, we didn't stay into the heart of the evening.  However,

we met a couple of Minnesotans on Grand Anse beach the next day

who had stayed quite late and enjoyed themselves very much.

We did catch an early bus to the ferry a few days later, however.

Osprey Ferry Lines runs between Grenada's three main islands, and

we were headed to Carriacou to the north.

Leaving St. George's we had a great view of the Carenage, where

the homes run up the hillsides almost to the top.

Catching a bus at 7 a.m. Sunday morning we had another example of

the efforts Grenadians make to accommodate tourists.  As we walked

down the driveway a bus driver noticed us and stopped.  He was

headed the wrong way, however, so I waved and yelled to him and

we walked over towards another bus that was headed in the right

direction on the other side of the street.  As we approached that bus,

however, we saw it had the word "taxi" on the back, which meant

we'd pay about eight times as much for the ride.  We stopped in our tracks, but the taxi driver got out to encourage us into his van.

When we said "No, we want a bus," he suddenly waved to the bus that was still parked headed in the wrong direction.  "Ferry

Terminal" he yelled out to the bus driver, leading us over to the bus.  The bus did a u-turn in the street and picked us up.  When we

got to the ferry terminal, the taxi that had helped us was right behind us, assisting passengers out of the van.

The ferry ride to

Carriacou was a

pleasant hour and

a half cruise

along Grenada's

west coast.  Most

of the passengers

were up on deck,

a group of locals imbibing their first Carib beers of the

day.  Carriacou's big Christmas music festival, Parang,

was on its third and last day, and undoubtedly some of

these fellows were going to enjoy a long night of

partying.  Hillsborough, the main town on Carriacou,

looked utterly inviting and charming as we pulled in.

This tiny island is just a few miles long and is very laid back compared to bustling Grenada.  I had struggled back in Arizona to find

a cheap place to book for us, but when we arrived at our apartment we were stunned.  It was right on the beach, with a brochure-

quality view and gentle waves lapping the shore.  In no time we were in our bathing suits and checking out the glorious setting.

For me, this was exactly what comes to mind when someone says "tropical island:"  clear, calm, inviting water, lush green thick-

leaved vegetation, virgin sand, peace and tranquility with the occasional exotic bird call from a tree.  And there it all was, right off

our deck.  Simple, no-frills accommodations, to be sure, but what a place Carriacou proved to be.