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Grenada

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 24, 2010

Day 6, December 13, Monday, Emerald Princess 10 Day Cruise to Southern Caribbean

GRENADA

The day dawned bright and sunny and warm. Clouds hovered over the distant mountain ranges as we approached the famed “spice” island. I spotted a fort up on a hill, a clock tower in town, and a multitude of pastel buildings, many of which clustered up the hillside. Grenada is 133 square miles. Approximately 33,700 people live in the capital city of St. George’s which is where we docked.

                       

We boarded an air-conditioned bus for the ship’s tour titled Grenada Explorer (the sign-up sheet says non a/c vehicles but that may be outdated). Here we drove through the insanely crowded narrow streets of St. George’s barely scraping by other vehicles. We emerged onto a road hugging the rocky coast. Sandy beaches and resorts are to the south side. We headed in the opposite direction. After a lengthy drive past many seaside villages, we turned inland toward the lush jungle interior. Wild fruit trees sprouted everywhere: tall, leafy nutmeg trees with round nuts sagging from the branches. Papayas laden with heavy green fruits. Abundant banana plants in various stages of maturity. Long cocoa pods hanging off trees. Vines aplenty. We passed some planted fields of corn and root vegetables. Most of the nutmeg, cacao, bananas are exported to Europe. It was amazing to see these fruit trees wild all over the island. I was stunned by the bountiful fruits to be found on this tropical paradise, although the standard of living could be higher.

Nutmeg Tree

                           

Cacao Tree

We careened around switchback roads up and down through verdant hillsides, spotting an occasional goat. Overhead power lines strung through villages. We saw many half-built structures as though abandoned mid-construction. Men sat about watching us pass as though they had nothing productive to do. Laundry hung out to dry at many cottages. Dogs roamed the streets, and children played on open porches. Many of the homes were on stilts, without any visible air-conditioning units. Given the living conditions, I was surprised when the guide said they have cable TV with the same channels as we do.

Our first stop, an hour’s drive away, was the centuries old Dougaldston Spice Estate. The wooden buildings were faded and rundown. While I visited the outbuilding restroom, the host described the different spices grown on the island. I joined the group as he passed each spice around for us to smell: nutmeg, bay leaves, cloves, mace, ginger, tumeric, and cocoa. Small packets were available for purchase for a dollar or two each with no labels other than what spice they contained. I was disappointed; the tour description said we’d have the opportunity to buy spices here and I’d expected something more sophisticated. This hardly seemed worth the long ride, except that I enjoyed the drive through the verdant mountains to view the scenery.

Spice Estate; Beans Drying in Sun

                 

Spice Estate Demo

Our bus resumed its route, making one roadside stop. The driver paid a guy to give us each a banana to eat. The tour list said we were supposed to stop at Gouyave Nutmeg Station but I don’t recall this being part of the tour.

We proceeded next to Grand Etang National Park 1900 feet above sea level for a view of the crater lake. I would have liked more time here as they had the best vendors for shopping but we only had 15 minutes. I gulped down the free rum punch which was mostly fruit juice, snapped a quick picture, and ran from one craft stall to the next. I bought spice necklaces made up of the different spices grown on the island. They smelled wonderful and I hoped they would keep until we got home and I hung one in my kitchen. I also bought nutmeg syrup and nutmeg jam plus some gift packs and individual packets of the different spices.

Crater Lake

          

Annandale Falls

From here we visited Annandale Falls where we had a short hike downhill for the view. It was a minor waterfalls compared to the twin falls in Dominica. The vendors here were annoying, pushing their wares at us. We were now anxious to get back to town to do some shopping but our bus driver took us to Fort Frederick. We admired the ships in harbor in St. George below. There was another vendor up here plus restrooms.

Our bus stalled as we turned to make a sharp curve. All the passengers had to get out and several men helped push the bus backward. Then the driver aimed downhill, and we climbed back on. We gritted our teeth as we coasted down the steep decline but the engine restarted. Whew. The driver deserved our praise after the harrowing ride.

Fort Frederick

We’d begun our tour around 7:30 and got back to town around 12:30. Five hours was too long to be sitting on a bus. I would have liked a lot more time in town, especially because the ship left at 2:00 pm. This was our shortest port stop and one of the most interesting. Nonetheless, we appreciated the tour of Grenada’s natural wonders. My only suggestion to Princess would be to stay in port longer.

Frantic to buy more spices, I shopped in the Esplanade Mall next to the pier. Everything you’d want is right there: duty free liquor and perfume, souvenirs and spices, jams and jellies, hot sauces. This was a great shopping mall with crafts vendors outside. We didn’t have time to walk around the town at all. Maybe it was just as well. I’d already spent too much money and bought all kinds of spices that I didn’t know how to use.

Once aboard, we rested in our cabin then strolled around the ship. Most of the pool chairs were already taken so we enjoyed our balcony. For dinner that night, I had shrimp cocktail, a mushroom tart, roasted sliced duck, and a Grand Marnier soufflé.

For more photos, go to: http://bit.ly/i1wERn

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12 Responses to “Grenada”

  1. June Shaw said

    Looks fantastic! I love to cruise but have never been there. Maybe next time.

  2. Enjoyed Grenada tour and pictures, felt like I’d been on another tour. You did everything I always did in the way of shopping and also looking around at the limited places like a “one-eyed dog in a butcher shop” LOL.
    Great blog,
    Jackie Griffey

  3. June, it’s worth a visit. Jackie, there’s never enough time for shopping is there? Grenada is unique with their spices and the mall right at the port has a lot to offer.

  4. Linda Pearl said

    I loved Grenbada, one of the prettiest harbors in the Caribbean! The cab drivers there are the most, shall I say ambitous,in getting you to take their cab..:(I almost went back to to the ship! Glad I didn’t as I so enjoyed this island..

  5. I would do the other spice tour the next time that includes a rum tasting factory, but only if the ship stays in port longer.

  6. Mike said

    Want a great deal on a cruise? Then name your price for one at http://bit.ly/e7cH5C

  7. Today, I went to the beach front with my children.
    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter
    and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.

    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic
    but I had to tell someone!

    • Yow! It’s a good idea to look inside the shell and see if the creature is still in there. If so, toss it back into the ocean. For your daughter, you might want to buy a conch shell in a shop and give that to her to put near her ear.

  8. Hi! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog.

    Is it tough to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about making my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you have any points or suggestions? Cheers

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