We have left Grenada after a memorable summer season. We checked out of the country in Carriacou and spent a week exploring the Grenadines. Characteristically, it took us at least two tries. We ran errands on the Monday ahead of Grenadian Thanksgiving (Tuesday October 25th) a day which commemorates the American invasion of Grenada in 1983 and on which everything is closed and buses do not run.
Tuesday morning, the house a wreck and provisions all over the place, we were unprepared mentally to leave. Wednesday, we got up, ready to go, only to find an endless line of squalls on the horizon. By Thursday, we had said good-bye to everyone at least twice, cleaned and provisioned the boat, and prepared easy meals for travel days, so when we awoke to blue skies and a fresh breeze, it was easy to shove off.
We have often commented on how hard it is to untie the lines and just go. While we enjoy the part of our life where we get to change scenery and meet new people, the other part is always saying goodbye to people and places that we have grown to love. Grenada is no exception. I have asked myself over the last couple of months why it is that people rave about Grenada. Is it different somehow from the other islands in the Caribbean? The answer is yes, and no. In some ways, it is very like the other islands in its scenery, the bus system, the ubiquitous Rastafarians, the goats and chickens, the roadside produce stands, the touristy places, and the local places.
One major difference is the amount of time visitors spend here. While there are some beach resorts and charter boats that leave out of St. Georges, most of the people who come to Grenada for hurricane season are cruisers who have worked their way south or crossed the Atlantic, not your typical tourists. They come here with a different mindset, stay long enough to participate in local life and culture, and are welcomed by Grenadians in a way that seems different from other islands. Take the Hash, for example. Hash House Harriers is an organization of hikers worldwide, part nature-loving athletes, part party animals. In Grenada, a Saturday afternoon will see a couple hundred people gather in one of the seven parishes for a group-hike, a convivial mixture of locals, university students, and visitors alike. We enjoyed several hashes while we summered on the island; we hiked through rain forest, ate local food, made new friends, and came home muddy and happy.
Hash Mistress in trouble…
The punishment: to drink from the pot using the sleeve.
Pictureed, L-R: Ronan, Sam, Ryan, Aaron, Josh, and Eli. Photo by Theresa, m/v Pilot’s Discretion
What we have discovered in the Caribbean islands is that it is hard to make friends with locals—especially when they are paid to make you a drink, drive you around town, or sell you produce. On some islands, we were viewed as little more than tourists with money to spend. But in Grenada, our children played with local children, I swapped recipes with women at produce stands and taxi drivers, and felt welcomed like family at Le Phare Bleu, the marina where we lived for the past two months. The Grenadians have a reputation of being very friendly and welcoming, and I found this to be true.
Pictured L-R: Eunicia, Lyndona, Crema, Allison and Linda from Le Phare Bleu
Among boaters, summer here is called “Camp Grenada.” Somewhat comically, I found this to be true as well. Once we left Port Louis in St. Georges and the hustle-bustle of the capital, we found a small and wonderful group of people at Le Phare Bleu (including the ever-present buddy boat Abby Singer), with whom we did all sorts of fun summer-camp activities: inner-tubing on the Balthazar River, Hobie-cat sailing, dock parties and pot-lucks, jumping in waterfalls, exercise classes every morning, music jam sessions, happy hour at the pool, group rides to restaurants and beaches, organized tours, and a farewell boat-crawl with appetizers, drinks, and trivia questions at each stop. And that was just our little corner of the island! In the other bays on the south side of Grenada, there were kids’ beach Olympics, movie nights, volleyball, dominoes and chess, yoga classes, concerts, and many other social activities which kept the radio and dinghy channels buzzing.
Boat Crawl (Photo by Lauren from Nightingale Tune)
When we bought Take Two, we dreamed of taking her back to the Caribbean, where she had served as a private charter boat in the 1990s. We wanted to take the children to places where we could eat fruit right off the trees, meet new people from all over the world, experience local island culture and learn about history first-hand. This journey was, for us, the trip of a lifetime. It did not disappoint. Jay and I had a date night recently at Savvy’s—the path to the beach was torch-lit and the sounds of steel-drums and ocean surf were in the air. In the moonlight, we could see the silhouette of volcanic mountains and palm trees, and on the breeze, we could smell barbecue and night-blooming tropical flowers. I had to laugh—it was if we had stepped into an advertisement for a Caribbean vacation!
Much of our trip was less stereotypical (thankfully so), and we have decided to continue traveling west toward Central America to experience a completely different culture and language. For this reason, although we are sad to say goodbye to friends we met in Grenada, we are also excited to see what’s next. That’s what it’s like to live in a moving house—to wave goodbye while greeting a new horizon.
Farewell Boat Crawl with the crews of Hedonism, MickBeth, Moorahme, Find Us, Abby Singer, Renaissance II, Nightingale Tune, Sea Squirrel, Take Two, and Corpse Pounder. Photo by Lauren on Nightingale Tune.