Friday, July 8, 2011

Our Six Months in Grenada - Island Tours July 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011
Chase arrived in Grenada!
Andy’s grandson, Chase, arrived this week from Oklahoma and settled in.  Now we are on a mission to see the island and make certain Chase stays very busy & has a good time while visiting us for three weeks.....a challenge for anyone dealing with an almost 16 year old!!

Our dock of Canadians, French Canadians & US citizens has ‘bonded’ and we are busy planning parties, outings to various local events and even working out as a group at a local gym.  Throw in a few happy hours and dinner parties and we stay more than busy.  Boater’s midnight still strikes at 9 ish, however!

Marie showing off her lamp shade she just bought during our boater beach party
Vendor selling the woven lamp shades @ Grand Anse Beach

Vendor departing w pocket full of money
 Boater beach parties are a fun filled time with boaters from various anchorages & marinas along the south side of Grenada.  The VHF Channel 68 hums with information on where to go; what to do & tidbits of all kinds of information.  We love the diversity of people from all over the world here - French, Australian, Dutch, Scotch, German, Irish, Canadian, American & others all sharing a common love of adventure & the oceans.

Too many Carib beers - wearing the lamp shade

Filling a van with 10 for an island tour, using ‘Shademan’ ie Johnny, we traversed the 133 square miles of the entire island in a 9 hour marathon trip in the non-airconditioned van.  Thank goodness it was cloudy all day, with the normal sprinkles of rain that kept us comfortable.  Highlights of our trip were the lush beauty of everywhere we drove, the running commentary of ‘Shademan’ (named thus by boaters who said everytime they stopped with him during their tour, Johnny sought out the SHADE) & the factories we visited that are operating pretty much as they did hundreds of years ago. 

Concord waterfall & pool

A refreshing stop at the Concord waterfalls up in the rainforest was our first stop as we headed north along the island.  No one went swimming, citing the overcast day and cooler temps.  Concord is one of several waterfalls and certainly not the most spectacular, but still very pretty.

Tethered by this rope around her horns

The drive UP to it through the rainforest was lush - greenery everywhere with colorful flowers abounding.  Throw in a few goats and cows along the sides of the road and one must pay close attention to the road, not the sights! 

Papaya Tree

See the single red below - Unknown variety
No one knows the name of this flower
Cocoa, bananas, papaya displayed at Concord Falls

First big stop was in Gouyave to visit the Nutmeg processing station.  This island called Spice Island (duh) is noted also for the numerous spices grown here, particularly nutmeg - that are shipped all over the world.

Take a look at that spice jar sitting on your shelf - probably says from WEST Indies...that is here.  Most interesting - again, nothing has changed in hundreds of years.   There is nutmeg grown in the EAST Indies, but that is another story.

The Nutmeg

Nutmeg actually did originate in the East Indies and was brought here where it flourished.  Nutmeg is TWO spices -- nutmeg and MACE!

Around the seed is a red membrane that is the mace part.

Grown on an evergreen tree that blossoms with light yellow flowers that grown into the fruit that is about the size of a plum, it matures until it pops open to reveal the seed.

The nut is dried for a couple of months, moved around every day in the drying bins by wooden shovels so as to not harm the oily nut.

Take a look at the national flag of Grenada - the nutmeg is prominently displayed on the red, yellow & green flag!  (On the left side)
Grenada National Flag

As we toured the plant, we noticed how shiny the floors were - hundreds of years of oil getting onto the wooden floors!  The nuts are sorted by size and quality with the lesser ones being crushed into oil & used in foods and perfumes.  The best nuts become the whole nutmeg we know. 

Sorting Table w various size holes
Workers sit around another sorting table - looking for quality

Nutmegs are sorted by hand just like centuries before!

Nuts that float are NOT 1st quality
Bag full of shiny nutmegs

Bags are hand stenciled with their destination country
Stenciled bag
Full bags ready to be lowered via pulleys
Notice the old fashioned scales

Ready for shipment

Enough said - at the entrance to Nutmeg Factory

The nutmeg as we know it - ready to grate

Outside of the Nutmeg Factory

A brief stop at Sauteurs at the top tip of the island to see Carib’s Leap...the point of land from which numerous Carib Indians (the original settlers) leaped to their deaths on the rocks below rather than be taken prisoner by the French during the 17th century.
Carib's Leap

The Carib's were cannibals and very vicious.  They killed men, women, children of the French and the French got even.  The French slaughtered all of the Caribs on the island in retaliation for that attack.

They jumped right behind here.

The Grenada Chocolate Factory - Who knew that much of the chocolate made by the finest companies in the world (think Swiss chocolate; chocolate from Germany; Belgium chocolate, etc.) comes from GRENADA!!

Cocoa beans inside the cocoa fruit

The island’s rich volcanic soil  & mountainous terrain enables the cocoa bean to develop into the high quality, wonderfully aromatic Trinitatrio/Criollo variety of cocoa.

The cocoa grows in a very large pod on a tree (remember my comments when we saw one in Dominican Republic) that when turns red, is ready for harvest.

See cocoa pod/bean growing down on the lower left side
Harvesting takes place all year long, with beans becoming ripe at different times on the same tree....a continual  process.  Once picked, the pods are cut open, the slimy big beans inside pulled out.

Sucking that slimy stuff OFF the bean is a delightful tasks - just don’t bite the bitter bitter bean!  Many many years ago, it was the job of children to suck the slimy stuff off, leaving the bean for processing!  Now, beans are soaked in some kind of a solution before drying out and then roasted and further processed.

They are then bagged in old burlap bags and shipped around the world.  Grenada makes their own chocolate and it, too, is so very delish!  I can never ever eat a Hershey Bar again......compared to all the really GOOD chocolate, Hershey tastes like paste wax.  This place is in the process of being certified totally 100% organic now....much was already organic, but now 100%.

Original plantation wall

Centuries old plantation
This factory is part of the Belmont Estate, a plantation of 400+ acres & run by the same family that has existed on this island for hundreds of years.  The plantation is still worked today - although no longer with slaves.

After eating our way through numerous samples of chocolate candy that absolutely melted in our mouths, we purchased a lot which somehow was eaten before we were two hours out of the place!  I am waiting for a cooler day to make “Cocoa Tea” which is the equivalent of our hot chocolate.  This 'tea' is made from the cocoa balls that are beans that were fermented and ground into a course blend with spices added.  One then grates the ball into boiling water, strains it and serves the drink  with milk and sugar added.  We shall make this before Chase departs - no matter how hot the outside weather is!

Cane stalks piling up
The River Antoine Rum Factory runs and looks like it must have in the 1800’s!   This is the oldest working rum distillery in the entire Caribbean and that says a  LOT as there is much much much rum produced throughout these islands.

There is a giant water wheel crushing the sugar cane - which is the basis for all rums.  The cane stalks are burned as fuel to heat up the cane juice - wood logs are added to keep it a bigger and hotter fire & enormous cast iron bowls (called coppers) hold the cane sugar juice and dump it from one copper to another as it gets hotter and hotter.  The stuff sits and ferments too...phew.

Logs also used as fuel for the fire

Adding wood to the fire
Been done this way for centuries!

Walking through the barn like doors into the building where the juice is fermenting in big bins and water  is pouring around on the floor in carved out sluices in the concrete floor, I spotted the largest FROG I have ever seen in my big as my FOOT (Size 5).  Hopping about, I wondered if he got drunk on the vapors and hoped he didn’t become part of the rum.  Sanitary conditions - NOT.

Fermenting Bins of Sugar Cane before it comes Rum
In the main fermenting room - pipes with water (?) & other stuff running in/about

This was the most modern equipment seen - tests something I think

OSHA would have a field day

Still want to drink Rum????

  Unfortunately, by the time we got there (4:15 PM) the place had closed - poor planning on the part of our driver I should say!  We missed the formal tour and the rum sampling, but enjoyed poking about & talking with the few remaining employees for a while as we wandered about freely.
Rums of Grenada- Some of them!

Lush everywhere

Overlooking the Lake
We topped off the trip with a drive up narrow winding roads, up/down/twist and turn through the Grand Etang, never seeing the monkeys that are said to be along the way,  til we arrived finally at an extinct volcano crater lake 1800 feet above sea level.   Standing in the cool mountain misty air, we fed some fish in the lake with our remaining snack food & just wandered about for a bit.  This volcano is said to be connected to that Kick ‘Em Jenny underwater volcano we cruised past along this coastline to get to Grenada.  This crater is also said to be bottomless.  In fact, the U.S. military and others have tried to measure the depth - to no avail.  No one can find the ‘bottom’!!

Nothing up here but the Lake
There is a trail around this lake that we talked about coming back to hike --- till we got back to the boats and spoke with a boater who had just done exactly that a week ago.  This athletic, active hiker said NEVER -- don’t go; nearly killed him.  There is no trail and much of the ‘path’ is through water, over and under trees and bushes and slogging through mud past one’s knees.  He said this was NOT an enjoyable 5 hours....Enough said.  Got the picture.
Coming back into St. Georges


  1. Thank you for very good blog about Pooper Scoopers. It's very nice.

  2. Those pictures you have published really depicts Grenada's rich nature and historic legacy. Hope you'll post more interesting shots like these. :)

    tourist spots in the Philippines |
    top tourist destination in the Philippines