How Grenada Moved Me

This country is not trying to be who they are not.



Last week I returned from a trip to Grenada. For me, the desire to visit a unique Caribbean destination was not much different than a child wanting to spend every bit of his money in a candy store. I knew innately that Grenada would gratify this hunger. Which I find odd, since I knew little about the island.

Landing in Grenada, I had no preconceptions. I was entering a country with a no undue outside influence on me. None of my friends have spent any time here to affect me. Would I leave here with an equal comparison to other countries I’ve visited? Was the island going to be poor and depressing like Zimbabwe? Vibrant with high energy and crime like Jamaica? Exotic and welcoming like Thailand? Beautiful yet intimidating like rural India? I could not wait to find out.

Colors of Grenada.

Colors of Grenada. ©2011 Carl Grooms

Moments after I landed, my hosts Mike and Rebecca, whisked me from the airport to the biggest party on the island, Fish Friday in Gouyave. A forty minute drive on twisty mountain and coastal roads in the opposite direction from their sailboat. This was going to be a late night.

Dancing in the streets.

Dancing in the streets. ©2011 Carl Grooms

I could not help but smile. I sat stuffed in the far back of small van, sweating profusely, dressed for air conditioned airplanes not tropical heat, and was surrounded by multi-national sailors whose new names came at me like a tsunami. This is what I love. When we stopped for drinks and a bottle of Stag beer found it’s way back to me my smile grew even larger.

My days in Grenada were filled with my fervent focus on gathering stories, drinking rum, seeking out unique personalities and trying to get into enough innocent trouble to keep readers following my island exploits. But the real story here is what Grenada is like as a country and why you should visit.

Carl hard at work. Rum in mouth.

Carl hard at work. Rum in mouth. ©2011 Carl Grooms

Grenada and her people are remarkably clean, efficient, proud and friendly. They appreciate the vast natural bounty that grows on her fertile soul and swims in her clean deep ocean. I feel bad using the word ‘remarkably’ as it is based on my own, perhaps shallow expectations. I have extensively traveled through small poor countries and should know better, but in such assessments it is best to be honest.

Drinking in the streets.

Drinking in the streets. ©2011 Carl Grooms

Most nights I found myself shoulder to shoulder with Grenadians in the bar laughing together as if I lived just around the corner. I never felt out of place standing in the street after midnight with a bottle of Clarke’s Court Special Dark Rum at my feet, offering rounds to all takers.

One day I approached a lady sitting in a doorway and asked her if I could photograph her. She demurred, she did not look good in pictures she told me, but smiled when I showed her the screen on my camera and proved her wrong. I had a good laugh with an old man in a local store when I took down his small Grenada national flag and asked him about the symbolism. When he could not tell me what the yellow meant in the flag.

One morning during my three distillery rum tour I was pleased to see armies of workers with machete’s cutting the jungle away from the road, closely followed by cleaning crews. This is not a common occurrence on most islands. It gets back to pride. The private mini-bus system feels like it was imported from Switzerland with it’s entrepreneurial efficiency. The roads are in good repair and internet access and speeds are all modernized. The beaches are clean and ocean pristine.

Grenada is not Utopia. She faces her economic challenges. She is twenty or so years behind the tourism trade compared to her neighbors partly due  to her flirtation with communism thirty years ago. There are not enough jobs for her young educated people to keep them all at home. Though St. Georges University, which is rapidly growing towards six-thousand students from around the world, is a jewel that is the envy of many nations.

Lady in store door.

Lady in store door. ©2011 Carl Grooms

It is also insightful to mention what Grenada is not. She does not possess the huge casinos and hotels like Sint Maarten. The Kenny Chesney tiki-hut crowd from the Virgin Islands will not find the same beach bar vibe here. The sophistication of St. Barts cannot be found, but the prices that accompany it are not there either. Nor is there a sense of poverty that one can easily see in Jamaica.

Roger behind the best beach bar in Grenada.

Roger behind the best beach bar in Grenada. ©2011 Carl Grooms

One has a sense walking the beach in Grande Anse, sitting on a mini-bus in Woburn or dancing to Soca in the streets in Gouyave that Grenada is on her own journey, she has her own goals and is accepting of who she is. Grenada embraces the world that lies over the horizon but is not trying to be what she is not. Grenada does not have that anguished feel. Instead, Grenada prospers on the tip of the volcanic undersea mountain that reaches for the sun and rewards her people with a bounty of spice and other natural resources.

I made many friends the week I spent in Grenada, which speaks to her people. I ran through her jungles and got to see cocoa pods hanging from trees, and nutmeg ripe for picking, which speak to her bounty. I swam and bathed in her ocean, which speaks to her cleanliness. When my plane lifted from the runway and I looked down upon my new cruising friends just off Hog Island, I knew my impetuous decision to visit had been a good one.

 

Sunset. Hog Island, Grenada.

Sunset. Hog Island, Grenada. ©2011 Carl Grooms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to follow me:

Bikini Store: www.conchrepublicbikinis.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/coastlinestanlines

Twitter: www.twitter.com/conch_bikinis

12 Responses to “How Grenada Moved Me”

  1. kenroy k_otec August 29, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    Should of told you about the parish of st.davids. Its has a rich history & the best secluded beach on the island.

    • Carl Grooms
      Carl Grooms August 29, 2011 at 9:30 am #

      Kenroy. True, one week is not enough time and I missed a lot. It won’t be the last effort. Thanks.

  2. RumShopRyan August 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    Great story man. Well done.

  3. Rob August 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    You got that rum in the mouth down pretty good. Great photos.

  4. marta September 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    Love the article. The part where you wrote what she is NOT captures what I have never really been able to tell people. Good job and welcome to the group of Grenada-lovers!

    • Carl Grooms
      Carl Grooms September 13, 2011 at 8:03 am #

      Thank you Marta. I went with little expectations and left a believer. Thanks for reading.

  5. Alison KJ September 12, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    Hi Carl , You really captured the spirit of Grenada. There is a totally wonderful and unique feel about the place and the people. Do check out the website of the Bel air Children’s Home if you get a chance. http://www.belairchildrenshome.com. We have children there who want to be teachers and doctors when they grow up. When you get to go back , do go and visit the kids . You will not be disappointed. thanks for putting Grenada on the map.

    • Carl Grooms
      Carl Grooms September 13, 2011 at 8:04 am #

      Alison. Thank you for the invite. I will visit for sure. I currently sell my book, “Portraits of Our World” to build schools in Africa. Children and children related charity are first in my heart.

  6. Valma Jessamy September 12, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    You missed the best honey in the world right here in Grenada! Our local beekeepers actually won that award in the UK several times. We have a bee sanctuary here in Jessamine Eden and setting up an apitherapy center. Visit us next time for the best local organic foods and maybe your first bee venom therapy. Thanks for a great article and for finding the sweetness that always bring me back home.

    • Carl Grooms
      Carl Grooms September 13, 2011 at 8:05 am #

      Valma. My loss for sure. Unfortunately one week does not allow enough time. Therefore, I must obviously return. Thank you for reading.

  7. jesma January 16, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    Thank you for being fair about grenada.

Leave a Reply