Wed 1 Feb 2006 00:47
No we've not had enough of cruising the tropics, but we have realised we are as far away from home as we are going so from now on the journey's back towards the UK. It's quite a strange thought, but we have now been away for a little over six months and it makes sense to turn round. However we have been well and truly seduced by Grenada, we've been here about ten days now and we have no urge to move on.
I think this is the first time we have been truly welcome in a country. We have had good times elsewhere, but here the people seem really proud of their beautiful island, proud that people want to visit and so keen to share all that it has to offer. On one of our trips out someone realised there's no road rage, no one would dream of honking their horn in anger, it's used exclusively to say hello to people they know along the way or to ask if you need a lift. Given they all drive at break neck speed, on narrow, wet roads with endless hairpin bends their good humour seems nothing short of miraculous.
We've had some wonderful days out, first a tour with a taxi driver called CatEye, along with our friends Paul, Fi, Ems and Oli from Blase. As we swept through the villages the cry would go up "CAAAATEYYEEE" and he would give a regal wave of his yellow gloved hand, we joked he could be the next Prime Minister, but we might be right. There's a lot of a political argie-bargie about post hurricane aid money that can't be accounted for, and the Government looks a bit shakey. He took us to some fantastic secluded beaches with tiny hotels, and up and down some of the peninsulas on the south coast. One area, Westerhall, has great houses, the strip of land so narrow that they look over two bays. This is where the Minister for Tourism lives along with the rest of the island's elite. Seriously nice houses with infinity pools, tennis courts etc cost up to £500,000.
Then we swung north along the island's east coast to the second largest town, Grenville. It's a busy fishing town, we stopped for lunch at a small cafe and we given a selection of local food. Oil Down, the national dish of breadfruit, plantain, pork all in a oily curry sauce, rice and peas, beef soup with dumplings, piles of chicken and fish. We ate in silence til not a scrap was left. Delicious. A little further north is the old Pearls airport. Here we saw the decaying Cubana and Aeroflot planes abandoned when the Americans came in 1983 to get rid of a faction of the Marxist Government that had killed the Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop. Fortunately Bishop had already cuddled up to Cuabns enough to get them to build a new international airport down 25 miles south, so we were free to drive at 100 mph down the old runway while Cateye told us to "fasten our seatbelt and put our chairs in a upright postion."
Then we had a quick tour of a rum distillery, sadly the Grenada Chocolate Company factory was shut, but we've been sampling it in copious quanitities anyway. The children were really keen to see some of the local Mona monkeys, we found some girls who'd adopted two and were happy to let us play with them. Eddie now wants one when he gets home., Then to the Annandale Falls. Just what we needed, clear, fresh, cool water. In no time Eddie and Oli were leaping from the top. We all enjoyed it so much that a few days later on Oli's birthday we went to the Concorde Falls. This time CatEye brought us a picnic of rotis and chicken, and we scambled further up the rainforest, along, through and in the river.
In all our trips out in the rainforest, the towns and the villages what's so noticeable is the damage done by Hurricane Ivan 16 months ago. Grenada hadn't been hit by one for fifty years, Ivan was really big, devastating 95 per cent of the island. A woman I met in a market told me that there was nothing green left after. The winds had stripped the canopy from the forest, all the leaves on the trees were gone. In the Etang National Forest we saw how the bind weed was taking over, climbing on the jagged stumps of what's left. When you glance along a hillside you realise every house has a new roof. Just occasionally you can still see a piece of corrugated sheeting wrapped round the branch of a tree like tin foil, and there are still a few buildings that were so badly damaged they've been abandoned.
The past few days have been the Grenada Sailing Festival and we went to Grande Anse with friends from Keoma and Cormoran to watch the local boats races. A fantastic spectacle, with dozens of brightly painted boats lined up on the beach for a "Le Mans" start. The boats were heaved down the beach and held in the surf, sails flapping. At the whistle the skippers sprinted and dived, some missing, onto the stern as their boat plunged into the waves. We watched a few capsize and sink rapidly, the races ended with a leap from the bow and up the beach to the finish flag. Anna, Eddie, Alice and Pip managed to get themselves on the stage, as "friends from overseas", when asked which she preferred Woodbridge or Grenada, Alice gave the right answer winning them a very useful umbrella.
Sunday was my birthday, we had a great turn out for brunch at The Big Fish, a nearby dockside restaurant. Tim plied us all with Bucks Fizz, and we rolled back onto the boat in the dark, with my haul of batik, sarongs and bracelets. One to remember. Now all we have to do is top it for Anna's celebrations this weekend.
We plan to visit the next door bay Hog Island tomorrow, hoping the mosquitoes won't be too bad. Then back to True Blue Bay for AnnaDay on Sunday. This has the huge attraction of two simming pools, a bar and restaurant for about a fiver a night. We'll stay a while, maybe move up to St Georges, the capital, before leaving lovely Grenada for the slow trip north. It'll be hard not to start looking forward to coming home once we've turned the corner, but we plan to revist some of favourites on the way back to St Lucia, and then we have all the new islands, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Antigua, Sint Marten, Anguilla, St Kitts and Nevis, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Azores... So just 4,000 miles to go and then we'll back in Woolverstone.