Grenada - The Spice Island

Published: July 13th 2011
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Celebrating the 4th of JulyCelebrating the 4th of JulyCelebrating the 4th of July

Our friends, Mike & Cheryl definitely came prepared to celebrate the 4th of July
Your first impression of a country when traveling is that of your interactions with immigration and customs. The country of Grenada includes three islands, Grenada itself which is the largest of the three, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. When traveling south through the Windward Islands, the first one you come to that has a place to check in is Carriacou which is where we stopped. The first thing we noticed was that the system was computerized. We hadn’t seen a computer in use for checking into a country since the last French island. Most of the islands use duplicate forms (with the use of carbon paper) and do not stamp your passport. In Carriacou the immigration office had a computer which was used to scan your passport in. We still had to complete a paper form, but this was still quite an advancement. We had to go to the customs office next and after doing their manual check, they used a computer printer to provide us with the necessary paperwork for us to take with us. As I said, this was our first impression of the country and it was noticeably more advanced.

We sailed from Carriacou to the southern
The Can/Am CelebrationThe Can/Am CelebrationThe Can/Am Celebration

The Can/Am celebration included lots of food, beverages and dancing. What a great reminder of a typical 4th of July picnic! The only thing missing was the fireworks, but we didn’t miss them at all.
end of Grenada and dropped anchor near Hog Island. This is a very popular spot for cruisers. It doesn’t have much in services here -just a couple of small marinas nearby, a beach bar, a couple of restaurants within a dinghy ride away and a place where we can go to catch the local public buses. Now that I say this, guess we aren’t hurting for much. You do need to travel to get to any of the shops for groceries, hardware, etc., but there is a van that takes you to the various shops on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday so guess we are doing OK here. Many of our friends from earlier passages are here which is great, but we have also had an opportunity to make new friends.
One thing we do find is that when cruisers congregate, they seem to organize as well. Some of the skills from our previous lives come to the surface. There is a “cruisers net” on the VHF every morning (except Sunday) which is all volunteer. This is a time when cruisers can find out the local weather report, report of new boats arriving, say so long from those that are leaving
Nutmeg ProcessingNutmeg ProcessingNutmeg Processing

This is just one of the many drying racks filled with whole nutmegs at the facility we toured. They must be raked, turned and tracked by length of time they have dried.
for other places, find out what social activities are planned, hear the specials at the various restaurants, trade or sell any extra items on your boat that you can now do without (aka treasures from the bilge) or find out where services are located in the area. We have run into these cruiser nets in other places as well and they have been a great service to those anchored in the area.

The 2nd day we were here we joined in the celebration that was set up for the National Canada Day (July 1) and the 4th of July celebration for all Americans and Canadians in the area. We definitely didn’t discriminate as many other nations were represented. We were able to get transportation to Port Louis Marina which is in St. George’s to participate in the fun. No fireworks were set off, but we definitely had food, drink and music for dancing. A great time was had by all.

Many of the boats that are here have been here before and as a result know the area quite well. We were able to join up with a group of them for a nice hike around Hog Island.
Nutmeg for exportNutmeg for exportNutmeg for export

Just a few of the bags of whole nutmeg being sewn up so they can be exported as Grenada is the 2nd largest producer of nutmeg in the world.
Unfortunately we had quite a bit of rain that morning, but it really didn’t put a damper on it – this is just part of being here during the rainy season.

We always enjoy taking a tour of the islands that we visit if we can fit it in. Here we were able to go on a tour together with our friends on Happy Times. This tour emphasized the historical sites of the island and was one that covered the whole island (all 22 miles long of it). One thing that we learned from talking to Clement (our tour operator) was that the Grenadian people definitely love Americans for giving them their freedom. This point continues to be obvious from the sign on the side of the road that thanks the USA for liberating them to the many thanks we receive any time someone finds out that we are Americans. Grenada had been under both French and English rule, but gained full independence in 1974. Five years after that a socialist/communist government with ties to Cuba and the Soviet Union took over until the “rescue mission” in 1984 jointly responded to by the USA, Jamaica and the Eastern Caribbean
A very manual processA very manual processA very manual process

The nutmeg processing facility employees 80 people as many of the steps are done manually such as this sorting of the nutmeg into grades and separating out the broken/damaged ones.
States. After this mission a general election was held re-establishing a democratic government that they continue to enjoy today.

We went to the fruit/vegetable market on Saturday in St. George. When a vendor found out we were Americans they would shake our hand and thank us for their freedom. It definitely is nice to be in a country that is so welcoming to us. As Clement stated this is one mission that the USA did right. They came in, did what needed to be done, and then left them to govern themselves.

Grenada is known as “the spice island” and the nutmeg was chosen as the symbol on their flag. Who would have thought that the nutmeg is not native to Grenada but was imported in 1843. The nutmeg does so well here that it is the 2nd largest world producer and as a result that is why it also enjoys status as a symbol of Grenada on its flag. Nutmeg export is second only to tourism in generating foreign exchange in Grenada. On our tour we were able to visit a nutmeg processing center and found that it is a very labor intensive process getting it from
The fishing nets are inThe fishing nets are inThe fishing nets are in

We stopped to see these fishermen that just pulled in their net to see what they caught. Most of them were jacks and skipjacks.
the tree to market. We learned that the nutmeg is surrounded by a covering called mace which is also marketed as a spice and is used in cosmetics and aftershave. Who would have known that the nutmeg could be used in the making of jellies, jams, syrups for pancakes, and even as a pain reliever for arthritis! And to think I only used it all the holidays for eggnog and pumpkin pie!

If you have followed our blog you must know by now that we enjoy checking out the local fruit and vegetable markets. It always reminds us of the fun that we have going to the farmer’s markets back home. The one in St. George’s is quite large and differs from those seen in the various islands that we have visited. Here was the first time we were able to buy plants very easily. Clement had informed us that Grenadian’s love their gardens and it is obvious by the homes that we passed. Now we could see this was important because at the market you could buy plants for landscaping as well as numerous herbs and vegetables. As our mint and cilantro didn’t survive the salt water doucing
Pulling in the netPulling in the netPulling in the net

Pulling in the fishing net is a very manual process and brings out many in the community to join in the process.
that they have received, we were glad to be able to replace them and add another variety of basil to our herb garden. We had looked for cilantro in many of the islands without success. We found out that the reason for this was that we should have been looking for chadon beni. The leaves are very different from cilantro but the flavor is the same. We always enjoy the markets as we are able to stock up on great fruits and vegetables, but best of all is the visits that we have with the vendors. We learn from them the names of the unfamilar fruits and vegetables, as well as how to cook and eat them. Our favorite vendor at this market had to be Theresa. She sat down and visited with Bob while Janice shopped in her stall for a few things. When she learned we were heading to Trinidad she proceeded to give us safety tips of how to be safe as they have a reputation for pickpocketing! With our good-bye hugs from Theresa we left the market and headed to the restaurant that she recommended for lunch. It was good that she told us as we
Working together as a teamWorking together as a teamWorking together as a team

We were told that it can take up to 2-3 hours to pull in a net as it covers a very large area.
never would have discovered it on our own. The food at “The Country Kitchen” was very good and reasonable. We also found they had a painting of Obama in the restaurant. He is very popular down here!

Carnival will be held in Grenada the first week of August therefore we will miss it. We heard it is usually quite the celebration with many competitions for costumes, bands and queen and king. The steel pan bands have been gearing up for the competition and practicing quite regularly. Luckily for the cruisers, one of the taxi drivers, “Shade Man” is always trying to come up with new ideas to entertain us. Sunday night he arranged for transportation to one of the practices of the band, Commancheros. Needless to say we went to this event. We love the sound of the steel pan bands and it was another opportunity to meet other cruisers and locals. The evening was made special by the enthusiasm of the band members and their desire to explain the music, show us their instruments and demonstrate their skill on the drums. We were able to visit with many of the community members that labor for months on the
One of many beautiful beachersOne of many beautiful beachersOne of many beautiful beachers

Grenada has many beautiful white sand beaches along its coast
making of the costumes for the Carnival celebrations as well. They started on them in May and it is obvious they have put in many hours of work. Designs are made up for the costumes and a committee decides which ones will be used for this year’s festivities. The theme for this group is “treasures under the sea”. The national dish of “oil down” was served at this event which is a variation on mulligan stew but with bread fruit, meat and callaloo ( like large spinach leaves).

This area is easy to get around as they have a great public bus system. We took the number 2 bus into the town of St. George to explore the Fort George area and of course get back to the market for more fruit and some spices. The views from the fort area were spectacular and gave us a better lay of the land. Hurricane Ivan four years ago did quite a bit of damage and there is still quite a bit of evidence of this. They have been able to build back much of the area, but this takes lots of time and money to do.
We can see that
A rum distilleryA rum distilleryA rum distillery

The distilling of rum at the Rivers Distillery is done the old fashioned way – as they said, why try to improve what has been proven to work?
it is difficult for many to leave Grenada. The area is definitely cruiser friendly as they benefit from the numerous cruisers being here and it helps the cruisers that need to stay in the area through the hurricane season. We are off to Trinidad as our insurance company feels that it is safer there since Grenada has been hit with a hurricane or two. We will have time after November to come back to visit many of the places that we have missed this time around.

Hard to believe that we will be on a flight home in just a couple of weeks. Hopefully will be able to connect with many of you in person. Those that we can’t, we will miss you, but will keep our electronic communications with you all.

Additional photos below
Photos: 59, Displayed: 29


Keeping the fires burningKeeping the fires burning
Keeping the fires burning

The fires to keep the distillery functioning must be fed with wood on a regular basis.
The raw sugar caneThe raw sugar cane
The raw sugar cane

There are not many farmers that grow sugar cane anymore so this distillery grows their own and cut it by hand.
The old methods still workThe old methods still work
The old methods still work

The waterwheel at this distillery is not for display purposes – it is a working wheel. They find that they have to figure out ways to keep it running as this is the original wheel.
The sugar crusherThe sugar crusher
The sugar crusher

The waterwheel runs the crusher which squeezes the juice out of the sugar cane.
One of the coppersOne of the coppers
One of the coppers

This is one of the coppers where the juice is allowed to ferment. It is heated from below to help in the process. It stays in the coppers for about 2 weeks.
Lunch while on tourLunch while on tour
Lunch while on tour

Clement gave us a great historical overview of the island of Grenada and we enjoyed a 3 course lunch at the Belmont Estates.
The receptionistThe receptionist
The receptionist

The hostess at the Belmont Estate wears a dress made of “traditional” plaid material.
Tromping the cocoa beansTromping the cocoa beans
Tromping the cocoa beans

Unfortunately the health officials have taken the fun out of it for tourist as you can not stomp the cocoa beans anymore!
How cocoa growsHow cocoa grows
How cocoa grows

This photo shows what the cocoa bean looks like when growing on the tree.
A cocoa nut in hidingA cocoa nut in hiding
A cocoa nut in hiding

The cocoa nut is actually red – sorry didn’t get a clear shot of this one.
The actual  cocoa beanThe actual  cocoa bean
The actual cocoa bean

The inside of the cocoa bean shell has quite a different look. The cocoa bean itself is covered in white which must be removed before using.

17th July 2011

Beautiful pictures!
Hi Janice and Bob, Kevin and I just got back from a 2 week sailing adventure around Lake Ontario. It was our first "long" sail. We thought of you both often as we came to the conclusion that there is nothing better in the world than being on the sailboat and traveling. It was truly the best 2 weeks of our lives! We learned so much and met so many fascinating people. We just wanted to keep going. I know it doesn't compare to what you both are doing but it did clarify for us that we want to do the same thing someday. We are going to try and make "someday" come much sooner!! Our house is for sale and we are looking for a larger sailboat that we could travel with. Our current boat went up for sale and we had an offer in 4 days and are waiting to have a survey completed. You never know when you might see us in a port!! I hope you will be able to come to Navy Point when you return for 2 months. We are all looking forward to seeing you and hearing tales of the high seas! Best to you... Peggy

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