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Published: December 25th 2017
Grenada (pronounced 'Gri-NAY-da') has been dubbed the 'Spice Island' because of its impressive production of a wide variety of spices, of which nutmeg is the most plentiful. The island is a heady mix of rainforests, fecund valleys, terraced gardens and rivers that fall away to white-sand beaches, bays and craggy cliffs. St George's, the capital, is considered one of the most attractive in the Caribbean, built around a harbor known as the Carnenage. It comprises one main island with a couple of smaller islands, has a population of just over 100,000, and lies at the southern tip of the Windward chain where, apart from Jamaica, it is the closest of the Caribbean islands to Venezuela.
We took our first organised excursion here, titled 'Nutmeg and Falls', which had us first driving north up the west coast for around an hour, basically hugging the coastline, and passing through some tranquil fishing villages. Our visits comprised the Gouyave Nutmeg Processing Plant, followed by the Dougaldston Estate, an historic cocoa plantation, and rounded off as we came back south by checking out the pretty Concord waterfall and the tropical luxuriance of the surrounding forest.
The nutmeg plant was like taking a
step back in time. There were no machines or conveyor belts, and the precious spice is processed first to last by the nimble figures of brightly clothed local women, as you can see from the pics. Grenada is the number two exporter of nutmeg in the world and I had no previous understanding of its supposed therapeutic benefits, which were expounded to us in detail by the enthusiastic sales women at the conclusion of the tour. The factory has notices requesting we take no photos, but the 'mammas' weren't having a bit of that and kept asking us to take some shots of them. The cocoa estate, founded in 1700, sadly looked as though it had not seen any maintenance since that time, but to some degree that added to its character. We had an interesting demonstration there from our Rastafarian guide, who went by the name of ‘Rooster’, on the production of cocoa and a number of the other spices produced on the island.
What really struck me about Granada was the lush mix of vegetation covering this hilly island, ranging from an abundance of fruit trees growing wild, including mango, guava, papaya, banana, passionfruit etc, coupled
with its many sources of spices, including nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, ginger and cloves, all rivalling the luxuriance of the nearby tropical rainforest. Many of these trees and shrubs had self-propagated over the years and are now growing in abundance in the wild. We were shown one enormous mango tree that Rooster claimed yielded 20,000 pieces of fruit per year. Interspersed amongst all this greenery were the local houses, relatively modest but mainly very colourful. All in all, a relaxing day and a good insight into the local communities and culture of this relatively small island nation.
Next stop as we travel north is the multi-island nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
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