Isle of Spice - Grenada

Peregrina's Journey
Peter and Margie Benziger
Fri 23 Jan 2015 17:11
12:05.0N    61.75.0W

Where in the World are Margie and Peter?  Grenada!

Well, it’s been a good long while since I’ve posted a travel story.  As most of you know, we left Peregrina in Trinidad for “Hurricane Season” and enjoyed a few months in the USA bouncing around from Florida to New York and California.  I won’t say we were “couch-surfing” because our understanding daughters, Lauren and Amy, Brother Kent and his wife, Nancy as well as our good friends, Gabrielle and Frank Armstrong, Elizabeth and Peter McGrath and my wonderful boss, Cheryl Andrews, made sure we had a comfortable bed to sleep in throughout our visit.

I was lucky enough to step back into my old job at Cheryl Andrews Marketing doing Travel PR while Peter made the rounds at all the local chandleries, hardware stores and various nautical suppliers.  But, once he packed a couple suitcases full of boat parts and had caught up with family and friends, he was itching to get back “home” to Peregrina – even though she was still “on the hard”  

Considering that it was 95 degrees in the shade at the boatyard and very dusty, dirty and noisy…PLUS the ladder Peter mentioned in a previous blog which we had to climb 20+ times a day to get in/out of the boat…AND the infamous “blue bucket” which took the place of our electric toilet, I concluded that it was not only cost effective to remain in the USA and build up our “sailing kitty” but a WHOLE lot more appealing than attending to all the hot, sweaty, blue” boat jobs that Peter had outlined on his “to-do” list!

Not only was I able to enjoy the company of the terrific Cheryl Andrews Marketing team but I also made two business trips to New York City with clients, including an amazing “black tie” event with the General Manager from the Grand Residences resort in Mexico at the Waldorf-Astoria.  The Friars Club Foundation was honoring Robert DeNiro and Mexican Industrialist, Carlos Slim.  I got to “rub elbows” (well, almost) with DeNiro, Slim, Sharon Stone, Christopher Walken, Ed Norton, Ben Stiller, Harvey Keitel, David Blaine, Arturo Sandoval, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin among a slew of other celebrities.  And, I was THIS CLOSE to Sting and Orlando Bloom! 

Be still my heart!!!

But, all good things must come to an end and, after 3 ½ months, I was missing Peter and my beloved Peregrina so it was back to Trinidad with ANOTHER two suitcases full of boat parts!  Hmmm, maybe I should have said “beloved Peter.”  Opps!  Freudian slip?

Anyways, back at the marina, we celebrated a lovely Potluck Thanksgiving Dinner and all the fixin’s with a dozen other “yachties.” The day included a very difficult “turkey transfer” from Peregrina (down the ladder went Peter with a 15lb. under-cooked turkey in a roasting pan) over to Libby and David Cross’s boat, Peregrine, (not to be confused with Peregrina) which had a much hotter oven.  Thank Goodness!  The bird cooked nicely at a higher temperature and they saved the day!  Here’s Peter with our friends, Roger and Sue from Wapiti.

We “splashed” back in the water a couple weeks later and headed off to the Spice Island of Grenada but not before experiencing a slight administrative snafu.  Turns out that Libby and David aboard Peregrine had left the marina a couple days before us for Tobago and they were accidentally given Peregrina’s paperwork!  There was confusion as to what to do once the mix-up was discovered but both the Trinidad & Tobago Immigration officials, with a bit of “egg on their faces,” decided to let us all move on without a big fuss for which we were very grateful.

So, here we are now in Grenada, happily anchored in Prickly Bay at the south side of the island.  THIS IS THE LIFE!!!  Grenada is not only a cruiser’s dream but, surely, one of the most beautiful and friendly islands in the Caribbean for a vacation getaway.  Let me give you a little travelogue…

While I may be prejudiced, I truly believe that the most wonderful way to arrive on any island is from the sea - watching as the distant outline of one’s destination comes into view.  Here in Grenada, majestic mountains, rainforest canopy, stunning shorelines with beautiful beaches, quaint harbors and hidden bays present the mariner with mouth-watering “eye-candy!”  Whether one arrives on a cruise ship or a blue-water sailing vessel like Peregrina, you just can’t wait to get off the boat and out there to explore!

I’m sure that the view from above, circling the island prior to landing at Maurice Bishop International Airport, offers the visitor an equal, if not briefer, first glimpse at the wonders of Grenada.  Looking down at the picturesque town of St. George’s with its’ protected lagoon and the adjacent harbor known as The Carenage ringed with historic buildings, one can easily imagine its’ humble beginnings as the small French settlement of Port Louis in 1649.

For a grander view, one might circle Mt. Saint Catherine, the highest mountain in Grenada at 2757 feet above sea level looking down at its’ horseshoe-shaped crater and multiple lava domes.  And, there are stunning views of the Grand Etang Lake, an extinct volcano crater-lake at the very center of the island that is said to be connected to Kick ‘em Jenny, an active submerged volcano located off Grenada’s north coast.  

Exploring the island, visitors will discover many spectacular, cascading waterfalls that beckon the adventurous trekker with a swim in a delightfully refreshing pool.


Grenada is definitely a feast for the eyes and a trigger for all the senses. They don’t call it the Spice Island for nothing!  Grenada is the second largest producer of nutmeg in the world and a visit to the nutmeg processing factory in Gouyave shouldn’t be missed!  

  The photo above shows the nutmeg just as it’s ready to be picked.  The red inside is Mace, which is ground up and used for baking purposes.

Here are Grenadian women sorting the dried nutmeg. After touring the factory, we stocked up on nutmeg, mace, nutmeg jelly, nutmeg jam and sweet pepper jelly with nutmeg!


Gouyave is known as the “town that never sleeps” – not to be confused with New York, New York, of course!  While nutmeg is processed during the day, fishermen are back and forth from the sea with their catch.  Their Friday Night Fish Fry is legendary.  The streets turn into a pedestrian walk and vendors set up stalls one after another offering a variety of seafood specialties.  We enjoyed lambi (conch) fritters, seafood skewers loaded with shrimp, tuna and mahi mahi and the most delectable lobster tails! 


 Peter even gave two-thumbs up to a seaweed “smoothie.”  Sorry I don’t have a photo but it was definitely GREEN!

While not actually as “smooth” as some rum we’ve tasted, the local favorite here is called Rivers Royale Grenadian Rum.  It kind of burns (!!!) going down but the factory tour of this organically produced rum was very cool!  The River Antoine Rum Distillery is the oldest working distillery in the Caribbean - operating since 1785!  The machinery includes a massive working waterwheel used to crush the sugarcane and an equally giant wood-fired “still” which takes the fermented sugarcane juice/molasses mixture and distills it down to the most  popular brand of “firewater” on the island. 


Rivers produces 50,000 gallons a year and they can’t keep up with local demand. It takes 10 gallons of fermented, distilled molasses mixture to yield 1 gallon of pure alcohol.  Frankly, that fermenting molasses wasn’t all that appealing but it obviously produced a rum that packs a wallop! 

Rivers produces a rum that is 38% proof exclusively for local consumption.  Tourists can only bring home the 16 proof rum which is deemed suitable for export.  Anything higher than that might very well be used for jet fuel!

Chocoholics love Grenada too!  The Grenada Chocolate Company and Jouvay Chocolate Factory offer organic, fair-trade chocolate made from the islands’ cocoa beans.  Here the cocoa growers are also the manufacturers, processing small batch, high quality chocolate for the public’s enjoyment and the benefit of the agricultural community.


Here’s the cocoa on the tree and drying on the racks.

Now that we’ve eaten our way around the island, let’s talk about the music scene here which has to be one of the best in the Caribbean.  And, who knew?  Peter and I have enjoyed the spectacular Coyaba Steel Pan Band on New Year’s Eve. 

The incredible Tivoli Drummers and their fantastic female dancers mesmerized us with their talent and unbridled energy and reminded us of the influence of African slave heritage here in the windward islands of the Caribbean. 


We were blown away by a beachfront concert, on a rickety over-the-water stage at Hog Island, where an armada of dinghies brought cruisers together with the locals for an afternoon of amazing music with Sabrina and the Navigators..aka..For the Love of Music! 



And perhaps best of all, we listened to the smooth sounds of jazz and the literary genius of poets at the Museum of History in St. Georges for the 2nd Friday of the Month Jazz & Poets Recital – a cultural event showcasing the finest musicians and aspiring poets on the island.  

I should point out that almost all these excursions and events were arranged through the grapevine of the cruising community here.  I’m proud to say that the “yachties” make an extra effort to be involved in supporting local enterprises and participating in cultural events and entertainment.  We are a community service minded fellowship and believe in volunteering for charitable causes.  A sailor’s creed is to leave a “clean wake” behind and I would add that we also try to leave every port we call on with something positive to remember us by.  This past week was no exception.

We began by carting a huge canvas bag of books to the First Tuesday of the Month book exchange at Budget Marine in St. Georges.  Each month, a local charity receives the proceeds of the $5EC (roughly $2US dollars) admission fee and donors can exchange books on a one-for-one basis.  Yachties are voracious readers so this event is hugely popular and, this month all the proceeds went to the Grenada Heart Association.  It’s a win-win all the way around!

On Saturday, we were off the boat at 9am heading in a bus to Mount Airy in St. George's Parish.  Peter and I particularly enjoy working with children on the islands we visit so we were delighted to volunteer along with 8 other cruisers at the Mount Airy Young Readers Program. 

Jan and Everest Pascal have created an expansive lending library for the children in Mount Airy with the help of a wonderful organization called Hands Across the Sea and generous donations from the community-at-large. The Pascals are not affiliated with any public school or government agency.  They do this out of the kindness of their hearts and from an extension built on to their modest home.

They also host “Saturday School” for children 5-12 years old who need extra help with reading and math skills.  For this, they depend on volunteers and the cruising community sends a busload of eager tutors every week!  

It is such a warm and welcoming environment with kindness, respect and cooperation as the guiding principles.  The children were polite, bursting with enthusiasm and very anxious to practice their words and numbers.  Towards the end of the 2 ½ hour session, things got a little chaotic as we turned from reading and math problems to  games and puzzles but each session starts and ends with a circle prayer led by the children and ginger cake and lemonade was everyone’s reward at the close of the school day. 

I must admit that Peter and I had to took a nap when we got back to the boat that afternoon but we slept with dreams of the smiling faces of those future scholars who climbed in our laps and held our hands in a circle of love.