Grenada – Barbados

We slept in a little this morning since our flight wasn’t until 11AM. We got up, showered, and did the last of our packing. We went topside, and breakfast was laid out for us. There was fruit, scrambled eggs, sausage, bread, and bagels for toast and several jellies (nutmeg & guava). Half of the passengers had left at a 7:30AM departue, but the rest of us weren’t leaving until 9:30.

We chatted with the other passengers and the crew. New supplies started to be delivered for the following weeks’ sail. It was a little hectic with bags coming out and stores coming in, so Sheri thought we would walk to the supermarket near the port for some last shopping. My foot wasn’t feeling great after the previous day, but getting off the ship was good. We walked through the port, and passed the many boats and cruisers who sailed the caribbean. We got to the market and all of the checkers were wearing Santa’s hats and there was Christmas music playing. We bought some local dark honey (that Sheri had enjoyed with her tea on the boat).

We headed back to the boat, and decided to stop by a small bakery next to the port. The Merry Baker is a small bakery run by a British woman. They had a nice selection of bread, croissants, and cookies. We bought some oatmeal cookies for later.

We got back to the boat, and there was a hum of activity as more supplies kept arriving. We said our goodbyes to the crew, and signed the passenger log, commenting on our wonderful week on the cruise. The minibus arrived, our luggage was loaded, and the passengers boarded. We headed to the airport since our plane left early, while the rest were staying on Grenada a few more days. We arrived at the airport without incident, and quickly said goodbye to our shipmates.

We checked into our LIAT flight. The airline is known for being late, but our plane was supposed to be on time. We checked in and quickly passed through security. We visited Lisa’s Jewelry and found Sheri a nice necklace of Grenadite (a local semiprecious stone). Our plane finally arrived, and it was a propeller plane. We got in line. We had been told that it was open seating, so we tried to get as close to the front as possible. We boarded, and Sheri suggested we take the two aisle seats in the second row which were open. The plane slowly filled up. The stewardess asked the man seated next to me by the window to move to the exit row as she wanted another man to sit there. A tall fat man came and sat by window. He was so big I had to raise the aisle armrest in order to have room to sit. The stewardess saw this and moved me to the exit row at the front of the plane. So I was sitting backwards, facing the rest of the passengers. We took off for the 45 minute flight to Barbados, and I was quickly asleep.

I woke up, and we were landing. We landed and quickly followed the stewardess down the stairway and across the tarmac. We quickly went through customs and picked up our bags. We found an ATM, got some local money, and found a taxi to our hotel. The weather was great, and we passed beautiful beaches. We passed Oistin’s Fish Market–where fisherman bring in their catches to sell, and multiple shacks sell fresh fish and other food (the Fish Fry is supposedly super busy on a Friday night, we just missed it). We arrived at our hotel, Southern Palms Beach Hotel in St Lawrence Gap. Our room wasn’t ready, so we grabbed several rum drinks by the bar. Our room was finally free, and we dropped off our luggage. We went to the local Internet cafe to deal with some mortgage refinancing paperwork, and then went looking for lunch. Many things were closed, so we ended up at Sweet Potatoes, a local bar/restaurant. We ordered a grilled mahimahi and fries and a Caesars salad (which had been very good in the caribbean). I also had my first Banks Beer, a really good local beer (a lot better than Carib). We tried to plan our next few days in Barbados. The bartender was nice and suggested several restaurants, including going to Oistin’s Fish Market (Saturday is almost as good as Friday night).

We walked back to the hotel and decided to spend some time on the beach. The beach next to hotel was lovely–white sand and iridescent blue water. I fell asleep and awoke to the sun setting, I took some photos, and we headed back to the room. We decided to go to Oistin’s Fish Market and see how it was.

We walked out and found a taxi. Sylvester, the driver, said it was 25 Barbados dollars to get there, but when we questioned it, he lowered it to 20. He took backroads to get there, and when we asked which of the many shack restaurants was his favorite, he said he would take us there. He parked, and led us to Pat’s Place, a busy place, with picnic tables, a several cooks standing by grills which were flaring up. We paid Sylvester, and took a seat. We ordered grilled dolphin (mahi-mahi) to split and several sides (macaroni pie, cole slaw, grilled potatoes). It arrived and was DELICIOUS! The marinade on the fish great, and everything was tasty. Probably our best meal so far on our trip.

We walked around the many shacks, and even though we weren’t that hungry, we decided to order from Rosilin’s, which had a continuos line of people waiting to order. The were pan frying their fishes in large cast iron pans next to their shack. We ordered one with everything, which was two large pieces of lightly battered marlin (the only served one fish a day), salad, pasta salad, plantain, and fries. Topped with a little hot sauce and pickled onions, the fish was really good (although Pat’s Place was better).

On one end of the fish fry zone are a few tables, all with lively games of dominoes in progress. And lots of locals gathered around to watch. We stayed to watch one of the games for abfew minutes.

We were stuffed, and decided to walk part of the way back. We saw a supermarket, and decided to grab some supplies for the next few days. We grabbed some water and juice, found a taxi, and headed back to the hotel. We decided to rent a car, since we wanted to tour different places on the island (and the roads looked a lot better than Grenada, so driving on the left should be a lot easier). We finally turned in after our busy day of traveling.

Mayreau – Union Island – Happy Island

We were already anchored in Mayreau Harbor, so no sailing this morning. Breakfast was an onion and cheese omelette, sausage patty and fruit. The captain told us about our busy day ahead visiting three islands.

We took the dinghy to the dock and departed with the other passengers. Islanders were working on the cover of a part of the dock as we arrived. A man was on a ladder adjusted the palm frond roof as his machete sat on the dock. We left the dock and immediately saw two large lizards rush across our path.

Mayreau is an island of bars, dogs and goats. We passed many of each as we walked up the only road through the town. The bars were still closed, but several of the passengers had enjoyed the many haunts of the island the night before. The islanders were very friendly as we climbed the steep hill, welcoming us to the island. We reached the top of the hill and visited a beautiful church–stone, stained glass, and polished wood. Behind the church was a nice overlook of the Tobago Keys where we were the previous day.

We left the church, and headed down the backside of the hill to Salt Whistle Bay. As we got to the beach the crew was dropping off the snorkel gear on the dock. We collected the gear and walked down the beach in the shade of coconut trees. Some of the village dogs had followed us, and they sat in the water and then laid in the shaded sand to stay cool. We also got into the warm, clear water to relax. Sheri and I walked to the other side of the island which was in sharp contrast to our tranquil spot, instead there were large waves crashing over the rocky reefs. After a bit of snorkeling and lounging on the beach and in the water, the dinghy came back to take us back to the boat.

We were served lunch which was spaghetti and sauce, salad, and some tasty squash. It was wonderful after a morning of exploring and snorkeling. The captain then moved the boat to the harbor at Union Island, a quick 45 minute sail. The harbor was surrounded by a protective reef and was very calm as we arrived, but the water near the reef was a brilliant blue. Launches started taking people over to the main dock. There were numerous boats we passed in the harbor, many abandoned and not weathering the storms well.

The town of Clifton was a lot larger than others we had been to; they even had their own airport. We found the main tourist market–a bunch of stalls around an open courtyard. We grabbed a glass of fresh juice and bought some apple bananas. We sat in the shade and found some free Internet to reconnect with the world. We finished our drink and walked around the town. There was a gourmet store with an amazing variety of wines; Sheri bought more crystallized ginger and a strong ginger ale (to help with her nausea). I grabbed a Carib Beer, and we hung put at one of the many bars. There were several locals sitting and talking and calling to the people passing by.

After a while we walked to where some nurse sharks were being kept in an enclosed inlet next to a hotel. It was a little sad as the sharks rested on the bottom of the dirty water. We headed back to the dock and talked to other passengers who had bought avocados for the cook. The avocado salad from the previous day’s lunch was so good, so we rushed back to the market to grab a few; they were as large as grapefruits.

We got back to the Diamant and almost immediately took the dinghy to Happy Island. Happy Island is a manmade (by Happy) island in the middle of the harbor of Union Island. It has a bar and that is pretty much it. All of the passengers went over to share rum punch. We sat and talked, and our crew brought snacks (meatballs, chicken tenders, fresh made tortilla chips, guacamole and several salsas) for happy hour. Several of the crew joined us as we lounged at the bar talking about our travels so far. While we sat there, many local sailors came by to enjoy the drinks and company of the bar. The sunset was beautiful as we soaked in the island atmosphere.

The crew took us back to the ship, and after a lounging back on the boat (reading and talking), it was time for dinner. This time dinner was fresh swordfish, with squash, and chocolate brownies for dessert. It was a perfect end to a busy day.

Tobago Keys

We set sail even earlier today – 4am departure, with breakfast at 8. I stayed in bed past breakfast hoping my constant motion sickness would settle and joined Larry on deck in time to see us pass by the tiny island of Moonhole, where stone homes have been built into and on top of the island. Many don’t even have windows, and the residents live without running water or electricity.

Our primary destination for the day was the Tobago Keys, a smattering of small uninhabited islands: white sand, clear turquoise water, palm trees. Postcard perfect. The captain offered to take us to Johnny Depp’s Island, but it would have been a good hour on the dinghy to reach it from where we were anchored, so no one went. The crew took us to our beach on Petit Bateau after a short informational chat by Captain Nervo. It was completely deserted, except for the local women that were dropped off to sell t-shirts and beach towels, and the occasional park ranger. There were picnic tables and plenty of shade. We set up our towels in a partially shady spot and spent most of the morning just hanging out, reading, enjoying the water. I particularly enjoyed lounging in the water on the floating mat.

Just before lunch Larry and I took the short trail through the middle of the island to the other side – the park rangers were setting up lunch on the beach there, which wasn’t as nice or protected. We hiked up almost to the top of the hill, which provided great views of the Keys. We were served lunch on the beach by the crew of the Diamant. Ham and cheese wraps, macaroni and cheese casserole, cucumber salad. And a fabulous avocado salad made from avocados the size of a cantaloupe.

After lunch we lounged some more, then grabbed our snorkel gear and went again to the other side of the island. We got into the water and started to make our way back around the point to our beach again. Snorkeling here was just okay, few tropical fish and we saw a turtle just as we were swimming back.

A bit more lounging (there’s a trend on this vacation), then we went back to the boat to regroup. Our next destination (same mooring, different Key) was Turtle Island (Barradal). There’s a protected area for the hawksbill turtles in the area. The island is tiny, a stretch of sand and a hill with trees and foliage and that’s it. The sand juts out like a finger into the water.

We snorkeled around for a while and saw several sea turtles and a small ray. I got out of the water and was at the end of the finger of sand when I saw a reef shark right there in the shallows. Larry saw more turtles, and we stretched out our time on the sand and were the last ones back to the boat for happy hour.

Matt and Jules, passengers from London, brought a bottle of Pimms with them and they made pitchers of Pimms Cup #1 for the rest of us. It’s refreshing, sort of like a white sangria. We were served more fruit, sausages, bacon-wrapped plantains and cucumber slices topped with tuna salad. After happy hour we set sail again, this time for our overnight spot in Mayreau. We were there in time to watch the sun set, gorgeous.

We stayed on the boat and had a dinner that reminded me of a 4th of July picnic – barbecue chicken and ribs, corn on the cob, chayote gratin. I kind of picked at my food because I was still feeling queasy. Really queasy. We opted out of the evening activity, a “culture walk” on Mayreau – otherwise known as a pub crawl. About half the passengers accompanied the Captain ashore, and Larry and I turned in relatively early.

Bequia

It was an early morning departure again as we headed to the island of Bequia (pronounced “Beck-Wee”). We departed at 5, but after yesterday’s sickness, I decided to try to stay in my bunk and sleep until we arrived.

I got up at just before 8 as we were nearing the island, and the crew was lowering the sails. We dropped anchor and the bell called us to breakfast. The were serving pancakes, bacon and tropical fruit (Sheri had Brandon make a dish of only fruit for her). I added a little nutmeg syrup on top of my pancakes; it’s a really distinct flavor, and not overly sweet.

We finished breakfast, and got our things ready in the cabin, sunscreening ourselves for a day at the beach and in town. We got on the dinghy and headed over to town with the other passengers. Most of them were going on a tour of the island–we weren’t. We talked to Nick (who did 17 weeks on Windjammer Cruises, mixing the old and new companies), and he said we made the right decision. He gave us a few tips of stores we should visit, and we were off.

We immediately fell in love with Bequia. It was one sidewalk and one road paralleling the beach. The stores were painted bright colors, and the people were friendly. We first went into the bookstore. Sheri found a great cookbook, but decided to buy it after we returned to the states, instead of adding weight to the suitcase. The bookstore also sold scrimshaw–intricate carving on camel bone, whale bone and ivory. Bequia is one of the few places in the world that can still hunt whales (4 a year), but with the old ways of hand thrown harpoons. A local artist carves the intricate work, and we decided to buy me a small pocket knife with a island scene on one side and a dolphin on the other. Sheri always gets jewelry, and I rarely buy anything but a nicknack for the shelf.

We stopped by the tourist office for a map. Sheri found a flyer on the local restaurants, and it said that Mac’s Pizza (which everyone had raved about, but had said was closed for a few weeks) was actually open. The tourist rep called, but there wasn’t any answer. We decided to try it for lunch (since we weren’t sure what we were doing for dinner). As we left, a man offered to sell us fresh lobster–oh if we only lived here!

We kept strolling through town. None of the stands were selling apple bananas, but we kept on a lookout. We passed on store where the owner was sitting on the front step planing wood off his miniature sailboat–Bequia is known for their craftsmen who make replicas of boats. The store looked small and we decided to keep going.

We walked up a hill and saw Nick who told us a better shop was around the corner which was good, because we were close to turning around. We topped the hill and kept going to the end of the stores and restaurants, where a more residential area began. We are intermittently checking fir wireless connections, and I finally found an open one. So we sat on a bench next to a dock, and reconnected to the web for a little while. The sun reflected on the water. People were coming and going on their daily errands. A man came up to the dock to clean his fishes.

We finally left and headed back the way we came. We stopped in the second boat replica store/museum. We entered, and saw the tables full of one foot to several foot tall replicas of ships. They were amazing detailed, with full rigging and small details. We met Augustine on the back of the shop working on a boat, and he said it takes home about three months to do one of the replicas. It was amazing work, but nothing we could get in a suitcase.

We walked back through town, and to the other side of town where there were more restaurants (many closed for hurricane season which was just ending) and hotels. We walked along this brick walkway, chasing away the scurrying crabs and trying not to slip on the mossy parts. We found Mac’s Pizza, and decided to have lunch here. We ordered the lobster pizza that everyone had raved about. Sheri saw the ships dinghy and rushed to tell them that we wouldn’t be back for lunch. The pizza came and it was delicious–perfectly cooked lobster topping a thin crust pizza and a mild cheese. For dessert we had the key lime pie, which was also wonderful. We were getting ready to leave when a storm moved through and it started pouring. An hour later, it was dry and sunny again.

We headed back to the dock, but instead of heading on to the beach (with sand and bugs), we decided to go back to the boat, and swim over the side. We got back, dropped of our stuff.the crew put the ladder over the side,and pulled out the rope swing. Sheri went first and then I went. Soon a handful of other passengers were also swinging off the boat and dropping into the warm water; Scott, the captain-in-training, even donned his swimsuit and joined the passengers.. Sheri was definitely the best as she kept improving her form.

We headed finally tired and went to our cabin to shower. When I went up to the top deck, Sheri had been making everyone drinks with the Liquor 43 that we brought from the US to share. The nice mixture of Liquor 43, orange juice and club soda was great, and everyone seemed to love the drink.

At 4:30, Brandon served us up wine, fruit and cheese. There were several good red wines. And the cheese was from a woman on Bequia that specializes in cheese and wine. The cheeses were many: Gouda, Manchego, Brie, Jack, and a really good local goat cheese.

The cook had the night off as all the passengers felt like having dinner onshore. Half were going to Coco’s Restaurant and the other half were going to Mac’s Pizza, even though we had it for lunch, we decided to go back for pizza. We joined four other passengers in the dinghy along with Scott who decided to join us for dinner. The dinghy took us to a dark dock, and luckily Nick had brought flashlight for the walk to the restaurant (no extra light along the path, as most restaurants were closed. We arrived at Mac’s and told them we now had 7 people and they quickly rearranged for us. The table split a large lobster pizza and a medium fish pizza (the captain’s favorite–which had mahi mahi, garlic and cheese). We had a lively conversation, and were ultimately too stuffed to even have dessert. We called back to the boat for the dinghy, and we headed back to the dock. We went straight to our cabin, exhausted from the busy day.

Carricaou

The day began very early. We set sail out of Port Louis Marina at 5am. We joined the crew up top to see the sails being raised (with a bagpipe version of Amazing Grace playing on the sound system). We caught a beautiful Caribbean sunrise, and the weather was perfect. We hung out for a bit, until we got to the north end of Grenada then went back below to finish sleeping. Larry slept until around 8 and woke feeling very sick. He joined the other passengers on deck, most of who were also sick. Sailing with 3 foot swells on a 100-foot boat isn’t rough, but there’s a lot of movement. It the first time I’d seen Larry seasick.

Same story for me, though. I was feeling queasy just sitting at the dock so I expected to be sick. Mostly just nauseous, but I brought candied ginger with me to settle my stomach. I don’t think any of the passengers ate breakfast as the boat continued to rock. As soon as we dropped anchor in Carriacau, Larry felt a lot better.

We boarded the launch to Carriacau, a small island that’s still part of The Grenadines. We wandered around Tyrrel Bay for a bit. It was a little run down, and there wasn’t much to see. If we had more time there we would have ventured to other parts of the island, but instead we found an open wireless signal, grabbed email and went back to the boat for lunch.

Another 20 minutes of sailing and we were at an isolated stretch of white sand beach. And turquoise blue, crystal clear water. We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging on the beach and snorkeling. Not the greatest snorkel spot, but the water felt great. Once we’d had enough sun (and bugs, they love me), we went back to the ship again for a hot shower followed by snacks and rum swizzles up on deck.

We sailed again to our overnight spot, about another 40 minutes. It was a gorgeous evening, sitting on the ship having dinner and listening to the fish splash in the water. Larry was feeling much better but I still felt nauseous. I ate most of the excellent lentil soup, but barely touched the grilled tuna and linguine alfredo.

We turned in early again (a day of doing absolutely nothing can be draining).

Boarding the Diamant

I got up early and decided to go for a run. I dropped the car keys off under the mat and left the car unlocked for Lorry to pick up later. He said he wasn’t afraid of the car being stolen (not much crime on Grenada), and often just left the car running with the keys in it. I guess it is an island, not many places to take it.

I headed north towards St Georges., running along the sidewalk. It quickly warmed up, and I realized that I wasn’t used to running in humidity. I ran past the port where we would be leaving later that day and into the Carenage itself. There were people heading to church and fishermen coming back on boats. The port was quiet on an early Sunday morning. I turned around after two and a half miles and headed back. On my way back, I stopped at a fruit stand and picked up some apple bananas, so sweet, for our breakfast. I awkwardly ran back with my little feast.

I got back and Sheri was outside reading. I presented her our simple breakfast which she loved, while I headed for a shower. We dressed and packed, and called the front desk for a late checkout, but they never called back.

At noon, we finally went down to the front desk,to swap our towels for dry ones, and they decided to let us check out late for free. The hotel was empty, so it wasn’t a great issue for them, while we spent time at the pool.

We went to a different pool this time–another waterfall, but two (cold water) jaccuzzis this time. We ordered drinks (I had a rum punch and Sheri had a Yellow Bird Cocktail). For food, we ordered a grilled fish sandwich and fries (it was so good last night), and chicken wings. While we waited for our food, a quick storm came through, so we moved from our pool chairs to a covered table. The bartender talked to us about Grenada and the weather and the other islands; it must be a pretty boring job in the off season with not many customers. The food came and was again pretty good.

The storms passed and we returned to the beach chairs for reading and Internet. Someone was cleaning the pool, and actually had goggles and a snorkel to clean the deep corners. I tried out the jaccuzzis, and the jets were nice. At 2:30 we headed back to our room for a quick shower, and then back to the lobby. We hung out for a while, and finally had them order us a taxi. It arrived and took us to the port. We went straight to the boat.

We boarded around 4, and were the first passengers to arrive. We met Crystal, who did the paperwork for departure and credit cards, and Brandon, the steward. We were served rum swizzles.There was a mixup and people were supposed to show up at 3 and not 5. We took our bags down to our cabin. Bunk beds with a wide lower bunk, and a small bathroom. Cozy, but lots of storage and better than the Windjammer Barefoot Cruise where the toilet and shower was all in one room.

We dropped off our stuff and went back topside for drinks. The sky opened up with pouring rain, and we were glad we went early. Slowly the other passengers arrived and dropped off their things in their cabins. Ultimately, there were twelve passengers, and six crew. We enjoyed an appetizer of calamari, shrimp on a potato with cheese, and fruit. We enjoyed the food and mingled with the other passengers,

At 7, dinner was served. We had a salad, black beans and rice, and pork. Dessert was a piece of apple-cranberry pie. It was very tasty. Captain Nervo told us about the plan for the next day and a little bit about the week. After much conversation, we finally headed back to our cabin to rest.

St. Georges & Grand Anse

Another early day planned – the market in St. Georges is at its best on Saturdays between 8 and noon. Larry and I are extremely causal and laid back travelers, but one thing we never miss is the local market. I was on the hunt for more spices and some local honey.

We started the day with breakfast on the patio again. Ever since our first trip to Spain, when we ate them on our patio in Sitges, soft-boiled eggs remind us of vacation. We had gotten mostly packed up the night before and were checked out and on the road by 8:30. Beeline for our next hotel, Grenada Grand Beach Resort, to drop off our luggage, then to the market in St. Georges. We found a great parking space on a narrow but not busy street a couple of blocks from Market Square.

St. Georges is charming, a port town busting with pedestrians and colorful buildings. The favorite pastime is strolling The Carenage, along the main harbor, which is actually the crater of an ancient volcano.

Similar to most overseas markets we go to, this one is dominated by women selling their wares. I’d say the majority of farmers in US farmers markets are men. Most of the booths were similar, selling a yam-like root, plantains, apple and other various types of bananas (called figs), mango, papaya, and fresh turmeric. The indoor portion of the market is primarily spices – nutmeg, mace, cinnamon (both ground and in bark form), star anise. Almost everyone sells nutmeg syrup and vanilla (extract and beans), and the women are very pushy! Like carnival barkers. It’s a bakers paradise, and I wanted to buy a suitcase full. I settled for cinnamon bark and a few other spice, in addition to local honey to feed my honey obsession.

We finished at the spice market and decided to explore the fish market next, which is fresh, local fish. Across the street is the Meat Market, men chopping cuts of meat with machetes and an unbearable smell (I’m guessing it’s also a slaughterhouse). Outside we saw a man holding what looked like a large dead, gutted rat. We asked if it was manicou – it was. A cross between an opossum and a large rat, and about as gross as you can imagine. But it’s a local specialty.

We stopped in at Deyna’s just before 11, too early for lunch but they were getting set up and told us to come back in 10 minutes. The woman behind the counter gave us a sample of her curry lambi to sample, but it wasn’t good enough to lure us back. It’s a favorite local spot, but it didn’t impress us. Instead, we opted for Courtyard Kitchen, a small shack and three tables located in a nondescript courtyard. We had seen the crude, hand painted sign from the street and were intrigued. It looked promising.

The woman in the shack asked us what we were looking for. Food, we told her. She described the dishes of the day – chicken roti (me), fresh fish or stewed pork (Larry). Mine came a la carte, a flavorful roti bread with whole, bone-in, skin-on chicken thigh, potatoes and curry–delicious. Larry’s pork stew was equally delicious, and it came with callalou (ick), plantains, yam, and rice. We loved it, and the setting was clean but quirky. Probably one of our favorite meals so far.

We decided to go to Annandle Falls next, a short drive from the town and the location of a supposedly lovely swimming hole. It was hot. Swimming hole sounded great. Except we couldn’t find it. We drove up the road, then back, asked for directions, and still didn’t find it. I swear I saw a sign for the yesterday, but we didn’t see it this time and weren’t in the mood to keep searching. There was a beach waiting for us.

We had decided to move closer to town for our last night in Grenada. The resort is less secluded and not as nice as Maca Bana, but still – the location can’t be beat. It’s located right on Grand Anse Beach, the type of beach that dreams are made of: soft white sand, blue water, just enough shade from surrounding trees. We had chaise lounges provided by the resort, and were enjoying our secluded, quiet spot until a bunch of rowdy local teenage boys decided to park themselves right behind us and then horse play in the water near us. We eventually moved to the pool – not a sacrifice. There are two pools here, and the more elaborate of the two has a bridge, waterfall, and swim-up bar. And wireless access. We spent the rest of the afternoon drinking cocktails, reading and napping.

Dinner was room service because neither of us particularly felt like going out – a day in the sun sipping tropical drinks will do that. We ordered grilled fish sandwich (cheaper than a hamburger) and fries; fresh fish is always good.

Grenada, Day 2

We got packed up for a day on the road by 8am, when our rental car guy, Lorry, showed up. But first – breakfast on our patio using ingredients provided by the hotel. Fresh squeezed, orange juice, soft boiled eggs, buttered toast. Heaven.

We thought the rental car would be dropped off at the hotel, but we were wrong. First we we were driven to the local police station to get me a local driver’s license. We have International Permits, but sometimes that’s not enough – which is the case in Grenada. We had decided Larry would drive. Normally Sheri drives and I navigate – she can drive a manual transmission better than me, and I’m a much better navigator. But this time, we got an automatic and I drove – on the left! Sheri drove on the left once, and thought it was scary. And we can’t imagine shifting with the left hand.

After we got the license, Lorry drove us to a local shopping center, where we filled out our rental contact. No need to pay, we can take care of it through the hotel. We’re pretty sure it’s just Lorry renting out his personal car. We found his sunglasses, old-school iPod, CD and giant knife in the glove compartment. At least we were well armed.

I took a couple of practice laps around the parking lot while Sheri got more cash out of the ATM, then we nervously headed out onto the open road to explore the island.

We had to navigate though the crowded city of St. Georges almost immediately. It’s a charming port city that has narrow, one-way streets and lots of pedestrians. And Grenadian drivers are scary, with a lot of roads only wide enough for one car width.. But I did a pretty good job, only touching the left curb a few times. We headed up the windy west coast of the island. The road before Gouyave was washed out, and only dirt for about a mile. Finally, delivered us to another crowded city, Gouyave, safe and sound.

Our target in Gouyave was the nutmeg plant. It’s a crumbling warehouse building smack In the middle of town, build in the late 1940’s. And probably not maintained very well. Whole nutmeg gets delivered from the fields here and it goes through a a process to remove the tough outer shell (mace) before being manually sorted by size. The largest is for culinary use, and the others are for toiletries, medicine and soap. We had a short tour by a man named Frank. They lost 90% of their nutmeg crop in 2004’s Hurricane Ivan. The whole place smelled incredible, like we were immersed in nutmeg we bought some nutmeg jelly and nutmeg (of course). We headed back to the car, and called our next stop Belmont Estate, a chocolate plantation, for lunch reservations.

We headed to the north point before going south to the estate. We got stopped in traffic in Sauteurs, and decided on a lark to visit Leaper’s Hill. I drove up a hill to a red brick church overlooking the coast. We were given a quick tour of the cemetery tour. The man who was first diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia, Walter Clement Noel, is buried there.

We then got back in the car and headed south. There were some discrepancies between Google Maps and reality, but we finally found our way to Belmont Estate. It was a working plantation. We took a quick look around and then headed to the second floor for lunch. It was a buffet. We had a pumpkin soup, and then were served a mixture of local food–rice, beef stew, callalou, salad, curry chicken. An average meal. For dessert, we had nutmeg ice cream which was good, and somewhat dry chocolate cake. The wind picked up during our meal, and we fought to keep our soup and salad on our silverware. We went down to chocolate store, and bought some of the locally made chocolates and bars. Sheri talked with one of the workers about a quick tour. And he showed us how the process cocoa; the building smelled just like a winery. We tried the moist cocoa seeds and then saw how the aged, and then dried the cocoa beans. The tour ended with sampling their cocoa tea, which was more like hot chocolate with island spices. We then sampled the chocolates they made– a much better dessert to our meal.

We got back in the car and headed east for the rum plantation. Sheri expertly navigated us to Rivers Rum Plantation. We parked the car, and joined a tour that had just started. The guide showed us how they process the sugarcane into rum. There were huge stacks of sugarcane next to the building. We saw the sugar water and yeast fermenting in large cement vats. It was then distiller in metal vats from Louisville, Kentucky. We ended the tour by seeing where the run was bottled, and got to sample some. We tried several small glasses, some of it was too flammable that they won’t allow you to take it on the plane.

We got back on the road and headed to Grand Etang Preserve. The roadsides were lush, as we entered the rain forest portion of the island. We found Grand Etang Lake, but couldn’t find the hiking trail that was supposed to be there. We went a little further and found a series of restaurants and parked. A monkey was on a structure as we got out of our car. A store owner gave a small fig banana to Sheri to give to the monkey. It’s always interesting to watch monkeys. We took a quick look around and found another monkey eating a banana. Before we left we asked the shop owner if we could buy some of her bananas, but she just gave Sheri handful. After then being accosted by two monkeys wanting our bananas, we got in our car and drove off. The bananas were REALLY GOOD, and we were glad we kept them from the monkeys.

We drove south along twisty, narrow roads. We finally made it back to the hotel without incident. With the weather still sunny, we went on walk along the beach before the sun set. We ended back in the Aquarium Restaurant. We had Planters Punch and a Rum Punch, and some delicious calamari. After the sun set, we headed deeper into the restaurant, and had some scallops three ways (blackened, tempera and grilled). We finally paid our bill and walked back up the hill for a rest after our busy day.

Grenada, Day 1

We woke early to intermittent rain and it wasn’t long before we were asleep again. Long travel days preceded by a sleepless night just isn’t that easy to bounce back from when you’re pushing middle age.

Our villa had been stocked with fruit (great local bananas, not those crappy cavendish we get I’m the US), so we had something to snack on for breakfast. We got cleaned up and decided to eat at the hotel restaurant – not something we normally do but Aquarium came highly recommended. The day was still pretty dreary, windy and rainy. Our beach prospects were looking slim. Before lunch we arranged for a rental car with the front office – not an easy decision or one we had planned on, but it seemed a lot more flexible than getting a driver for a day.

Lunch was great. We shared a salad with incredible local goat cheese, a grilled fish sandwich and fries. We caught a break in the storm and hung out on our patio reading for a while… until I fell asleep on the chaise lounge. At some point Larry had moved inside because I found him asleep when I finally got up. More reading and lounging and getting eaten alive by bugs and it was dinner time.

We settled on a small restaurant called Boots Cuisine, run by Boots and his wife Ruby out on a patio in front of their home. We called for a taxi, and on the way there Desmond gave us a bit of an overview of the island, tips on things to do the next day, and the history behind Boots (he had gained a reputation working as a chef at one of the resorts). An overpriced taxi ride, but informative. Every day I fall a little more in love with the Caribbean lilt.

Dinner at Boots is fixed price, with a choice of for the main dish. We started with a fantastic pumpkin soup that even I, a longtime hater of pumpkin, loved. Next was a crayfish wrap and then TLC (which turned out to be a tomato, lettuce, cucumber salad). Larry had the dish Boots is known for – curry lambi. Which isn’t anything remotely close to lamb, it’s what the Grenadians call conch, or sea snail. It was delicious, as was my fish in coconut cheese gravy. Dessert was a trio – nutmeg ice cream (I could have eaten a gallon), fruit cake and plum pudding,

Well-stuffed and rested, we called Desmond to pick us up and went straight to bed in anticipation of an early day of exploring tomorrow.

SFO – Grenada

We stayed up the night before we left, since we had a 3:30am car picking us up for a 6AM flight (we could have left later since it was considered a national flight to Miami instead of an international one to Grenada). Poor Coco was not happy as we either sat on our laptops doing mainly last minute work or collected items for the final packing.

The car was right on time and took us to SFO with no traffic on the dark, early morning roads. We ended up in Terminal 2, the new terminal at SFO. We checked in and quickly got through security. We were so early that most stores weren’t open yet. When they finally did, I grabbed a breakfast burrito and Sheri had a hot chocolate at The Plant. We boarded our plane and luckily no one sat between us. We were both quickly sleeping after our sleepless night, and we slept most of the flight to Miami.

We landed early and had about 2 hours until our next flight. We walked around the airport to stretch our legs and finally chose lunch at Icebox–the cakes out front drew us in. We shared a pulled pork sandwich and a piece of key lime pie, we were in south Florida after all. Both were delicious, and pretty good for airport food. We sat and enjoyed the free wireless and then headed for our plane.

As we waited to board (and sat charging our electronics), we watched a lady with two chihuahuas croon over them and then let one of them charge and snap at several people who walked by. As dog owners, nothing annoys us more than bad dog owners.

We finally boarded the plane, and unluckily had a tall man sitting between us for this leg. I slept, while Sheri read most of the way to Grenada. We had the first Caribbean sunset on he plane as we went from sunny Miami to the cloudy Caribbean.

We landed to rainy weather at 8:45pm, after about twelve hours of traveling. We stood in line waiting to get through customs close to the back of the line. While I was pulling something else from the bag, one of our cameras fell out and cracked the display screen–that’s why we always carry two cameras on trips. It still works, but isn’t as easy to use.

We got through Customs, collected our bags and were met by our taxi driver who had been waiting for us. He drove us to Maca Bana Hotel, only about a five minute drive from the airport. The owner showed us our villa which was very impressive. It had a full, well-stocked kitchen, an outside sitting area and hot tub, comfortable bedroom and bathroom with a walk-in shower that Sheri loves. It was almost 10:30pm, and we decided to forego dinner, and not to go out after our long day traveling. Instead, we headed to bed.