Grenada is known as the "Isle Of Spice" and this is for two reasons. The first is Grenada produces and exports the second largest amount of nutmegs in the world......hard to believe for such a small island..... second only to Idonesia. The second reason is that because of all that spice that is grown on the island, there is a faint smell of spice when one is approaching the island by sea. The nutmeg is grown in a tree and when it has ripened it will fall to the ground. The seeds are then collected and sold. Prior to selling the farmer will remove the mace (the red covering as seen in the picture) from the seed, place it in the sun to dry and then sell it as a spice. Other types of spices grown are cloves, cinnamon and ginger to name a few. These spices are used in everyday cooking and baking. A lot of drinks like rum punch (we all know what that is) are made using spices which adds a nice tangy taste to it.
The National Flag
This is the national flag of Grenada. Here is a brief explanaton of what the symbols and colors signifies.The seven stars represent the seven parishes into which the island is divided. The island has five towns the capital been St. George. (This is not shown on the flag) The chief export and a significant amount of income for the ecconomy is the amount of nutmeg that is produced and exported. Hence the nutmeg in the center of the flag. The green is the lush vegetation and as you can see from the aerial shot, there is an abundace. The yellow the sunshine and the red is the warmth of the natives. Grenadians are known for their hospitality and warmth.
As Seen From Above
Grenada is almost the most southern of the Caribbean Islands. Geographically, it is located 61 degrees west longitude and 12 degrees north latitude. (Forgive me if I am a few degrees off) Although very close to the equator and the temperature is almost a constant 80 degrees farenheit year round, it is never humid. The island is completely surrounded by water, the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. It is also quite mountainous. Due to the above mentioned facts, there is always a cool breeze blowing and the humidity......well there is no humidity to talk about!!
Map of Grenada
This is a map of Grenada. The island state of Grenada consists of three main islands Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. There is also a few other small islands that belong to Grenada that are part of an island chain called the Grenadines. These small islands are set smack in the middle between Grenada and St. Vincent, which is the next island north of Grenada. The Grenadines are split between St. Vincent and Grenada. These islands are very tiny and there are few people living on them. A few of them are devoid of humans. Between Grenada and Carriacou, there is a dormant volcano that every now and then will be awakened. The waters get very rough and sometimes sailing from Grenada up north to the Grenadines will be quite rough and a few times have even been impossible. These times are rare and you also have the option to fly to most of the islands. The rough seas usually last for only a day or two so if you are on the island for only a few days, you will have the opportunity to sail. If you are going to travel form boat form Grenada to the sister isle of Cariacou, the travel time is only about 4 hours. There are vessels that go there every day and the price is very reasonable. The volcano is yet to erupt.
A Brief History of Grenada
Grenada was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1498 on his third voyage. The island was inhabitted by the Caribs and Arawaks who were native Indians of the Caribbean. The larger Caribbean like Jamaica and Cuba were home to the Arawaks and the Caribs live on the smaller islands. The Caribs were warlke and the Arawaks were generally very peaceful. Grenada has been ruled by both England and France and kept switching back and forth between these two nations. Even to today, the older people on the island speak a "Patois" which is a broken dialect of french left over form the days when the island was ruled by the France. Anyway, in 1783 Grenada was ruled by Brittain until she gained independence in 1974. There is a figure head of the Queen who holds the post of Governor General. In my opinion, he is just there because there is a Prime Minister that makes all he decisions. The first Prime Minister was Sir Eric Matthew Gairy who was elected in 1967. He remained Prime Minister until March 13th, 1979 when he was overthrown in a bloody coup that Grenadians refer to as The Revolution. This revolution was led by Maurice Bishop who was head of a marxist group. He established relations with Cuba and the USSR. Now this is my opinion. A lot of good came of that alliance. Schools, hospitals and roads were built. An international airport was constructed that was finished by the americans after that infamous invasion in 1983. The airport was already alost completed. Grenadians got to go to Cuba and Russia on schlolarships. Secondary school education (what is refered to in US as high school) became free for all. No one was complaining then. Mostly all the natives were very happy with the then prime minister Maurice Bishop. In 1983 half of that same marxist group turned against Maurice and some of his cabinet ministers. The people were placed under house arrest and the prime minister along with all his cabinet ministers that opposed the other half of the political party were executed. The local radio station was blocked and all who were living on he island had no idea what was really going on. It was announced on the radio that anyone who was caught outside after 6 would be shot on sight. All who were lving on the island were terrified because for one thing there were no idea of what was really happening. There were a lot of demonstrations. The main one was in the city at Fort George and that was was broken up when an armoured car came on the scene and oponed fire on the crowd. There are walls around the fort that is about 100 feet drop and a lot of people jumped off the fort to escape the gunshots. By that time there were rumors that there was oing to be an invasion. Some said that it was going to be England and others claimed that is was going to be the US. No one really knew what was happening and the rumours were flying wild. On October 25th, 1983 Grenadians were awaken in the early hours of the morning by the screaming of aircrafts flying very low over the island. No one really knew what was going on but ne thing was certain. Whatever was happening was going to end all the strife that was going on. It seemed like a long time but in reality it was only a couple of hours when the radio station came on again and a voice announced that "This is the voice of the americam government." We all know the story from there. Democracy was restored to the island and the americans along with other millitary personel from neighboring Caribbean islands stayed on in the island until election was held a few years later. A lot of people said that the invasion was not necessary. All who say that were not living on the island and had political agendas. If you were to talk to anyone who was living there at the time, the majority of them will tell you that it was very necessary. I was living there and I can tell you this.....I was very relieved!!!
I am not going to bore you with details of the slave trade because I am sure that we all have a basic idea of the history of the Slave Trade through the Caribbean and the Americas. Suffice to say, that sometime between Columbus landed in the Caribbean and the time the Emmancipation Act was passed, slaves were brought over from Africa to work on the plantations. The heat and hard manual labor was too much for the Europeans and most of the native Indians had already been killed. This a picture of a plantation house where the master and his family lived
The island's main source of revenue is Tourism and Agriculture. The island's chief exports are cocoa, nutmeg and banana. Grenada is about 133 square miles amd occupied by about 100 thousand people so that in itself tells you that there is a lot of land left over for the natives to farm. Thousands of visitors flock to the island each year. The temperature is an almost constant 80 degrees Farenheit and being as mountainous as it is and completly surrounded by water, there is almost no humidity. There is always a cool sea breeze blowing. The isand has 2 seasons; a rainy season and a dry season and these are self explanotory. Both seasons last for six months. I should point out that when it rains in Grenada, it is in short bursts. The weather will get cloudy and there will be a shower that may last half an hour. The sun will then come out again and life is back to normal.
Grand Anse Beach
Above are a few pictures of the world's famous Grand Anse Beach. The beach stretches for about three miles and it is crowded year round. The sand is white and the water sparkling blue and clear. It is a great place to get a tan. Most of the hotels that cater to tourists are located on or near to the beach and they will supply you with diving gear and jet ski. The beach is only 15 minutes away form the main city nad about 20 minutes form the airport.The temperature is close to 80 degrees Faranheit.
More Beach Pictures
This a a picture of the market on market day. It is always crowded with vendors selling mostly fresh fruits, spices and vegetables. The market is in the center of the city and it is also the main bus stop for all the local buses that come into the city. That just adds to the amount of people around. It is a constant behive of activity. If anyone is familiar with the Union Square market in NYC that is exactly what it looks like but a lot more crowded and the fruits are fresher.
Fishing is also a good source of revenue for the ecconomy. This is a picture of a town called Gouyave. (The name is french and you are going to find a lot of places with french names) Gouyave is the biggest fishing town on the island. Generally, the fishermen go out to fish early in the morning and come in late at night. There are a few of them that have larger boats and will stay out a sea overnight. Sometimes they will sell their catch as soon as they get in or they will sell it to the government. Most natives like their fish "fresh" and by this I mean they will buy as soon as the fisherman gets in.
The Carenage is a landlocked harbour. By this I mean it is shaped like a deep U. It is usually a beehive of activity from about 7 am to 7 pm. It is only about a ten minute walk from the center of the city. To add the they mayhem, it is also the main arrival port for all cruise lines into Grenada. There are vendors right there that sell spices and other souveneir items.A taxi stand is also close by because of all the visitors that will be getting off the ships. There are a lot of businesses and offices in that area also. After about seven in the evening it is almost like a ghost town.
This is the Concord Waterfall and it is located on the western side of the island and is about three miles inland form the west coast. There are about three other falls in this area but this is the most beautiful one. Any taxi driver can take you there. It is natural and untouched and you can experience the cool smell of the fresh mountain air. If you are lucky you will see native men doing some breathtakenly spectacular dives and leaps into the waterfall hundreds of feet below. This picture really does not do justice to the natural beauty of the waterfall.
This is Sugarloaf. It is a little island about thirty minutes to the north of Grenada. I am not sure but I believe no one lives there. Nothing much happens there. A lot of hunters go there to hunt goats and sheep. They are supposed to be wild and are abundant on Sugarloaf. You will find that a few of the guys will go out there for the day and cook and play cards and dominoes. It is really easy to get there. Anyone of the local fishermen who owns a boat can take you there. If you like nature and the out doors, I strongly recommend that you go there. You will get athe feeling like you are the only person left in the universe.
Places To Visit
Grand Etang Reserve: This is a national wildlife and reserve that is almost in the centre of the island and maintained by the government. There is a lake there that is the remains of a volcano. If you are into nature you are going to feel in heaven
Market Square: This is located right in the center of the city and is opened Monday through saturdays form about 7 am to 6 pm.There you can get a wide array of fresh fruits and vegetables
Grand Anse: This is a definite must. The beach is about three miles long and has the whitest sands that you will ever see in your life.
Fort George: This the home of Police Headquarters and is was also a fort in the olden days. It is atop the City and you can have an all around view of the city, harbor and the water.
Carib's Leap: This is located in the northern tip of the island called Sauteurs. It is called that because the caribs who were the native Indians at the time were engaged in a war with the french and rather than surrender they leapt to their deaths. you can also see authentic writtings on stone that were doen by the indians years ago.
Botanical Gardens: You are not going to see any fancy animals here but a few monkeys maybe an elephant and the likes. The Botanical Gardens is notorious for its flowers and all types of birds tha are indigenous to the island and other Caribbean islands. You can also see some very beautiful flowers here. It is definetly worth a stop on your tour.
Points To Note
Money: The local currency is the Eastern Caribbean Currency (ECC) dollar. For your US dollar you can get $2.67 if you go to the bank. Almost all the stores and shops will accept your US dollar but it is a common practice that instead of giving you the bank rate, you will get $2.65. You will only lose a few cents but I am sure you are not going to mind after all you did not have to stand in a never ending line at the bank. Credit cards and travellers checks are accepted at some of the larger stores.
Transport: There is not a 24 hour bus service system. In fact after 6pm it is almost impossible to get a bus. And a taxi can run you quite a few pennies. It is advisable that you get a schedule of the fares for cabs so that when you are informed what the rates is for your ride you do ot get a heart attack. You can get a price list from the airport if you came in by plane or form the customs agent if you arrived by boat.
Dress Code: The island is very warm and kinda informal. Jeans and T-shirts are fine for everyday activities like sightseeing, going shooping, going to the each and even some clubs. There are a few posh night clubs in the city that do not allow jeans. make sure that you call before hand.
Communication: The island has a very good communication network that is powered by Cable and Wireless. It can be really expensive to call the US. If I am not mistaken a call to the US form Grenada is about $4.50 but that is in local money. The area code for Grenada is 473 and you can get an ATT operator or any other international operator the same way you will get one in the US.
Customs and Immigration: If you are an american citizen, you do not need a visa. All you need is a birth certificate with the raised seal and a drivers licence or non-drivers licence. A passport is also accepted. Make sure that you check with you local immigartion officer
Nightlife: The island operates on an 8-4pm. So basically after 4pm at night all comes to a halt. If you are in the city area you will find a club to go to or your hotel usually has some type of dance or entertainment. On the week-ends though, you will not have a problem finding a place to hang out. There are always a local dance at the community center or parish hall that you can attend.
Festivals and Celebrations
Carnival This is by far the islands biggest cultural celebration for the year. It is usually held in the fisrt or second week in August. There are calypso competions, steel bands competions, beauty pagents shows and a whole bunch of stuff. If you have never been to one, it is definitely something that you should experience.
Carriacou Ragatta The sister island of Carriacou has a regatta and carnival also. The carnival is generally about two weeks before Grenada's own and it is very much similar. The regatta is a week-end affair that shows off the culture of the island. There are all kinds of shows like big drum dancing which is left over form he slave days and aslo a lot of boating activity.
Carriacou Ragatta Instead of states, the island is divided into what is called parishes. St. Mark's Day Celebration is held sometime in April close to the patron saint's birthday. It is a cultural experience showcasing all the parish has to offer. It is a week long affair with shows etc. On the final day which is a Sunday, it is kinda like a block party. The streets are closed off and there is music, food and booze. If you like to party, this is for you.
St. Patricks Day This is held in February and is very much like the St. Mark's Day celebation.
Rainbow City Festival This is held in the parish of St. Andrew's one week before the carnival. It is similiar to the above parish's celebration. It is considered a "primer" for the carnival. The semi-finals of the calypso show is also held on the last day of this celebration.
Fisherman's Birthday The patron saint for fishermen was John. The parish of St. John's which is the largest fishing commuity on the island has their own celebration also. It is held on the 29th of June every year.
Note....When I was in Grenada 5 years ago, you can drink in public and there is no penalty for that.....Imagine all the fun you can have drinking in public.... Anyway, I do not know if that is still the same. The people are very peaceful and easy going. There are just a few serious crimes a year.