Written by Pieter Jan on Jul 23, 2020 — 5 min read
All around Grenada
We hadn’t really visited anything inland, apart from the Mount Carmel falls a few weeks ago. Since Gonzalo is going to hit tomorrow and the boat is ready, we had a free day on our hands. An island tour was long overdue. Barbara called up Mr. Cutty and organized a tour with a few friends — despite her intense fear of making phone calls to strangers. Kudos!
Mr. Cutty picked us up around 9:00 at Whisper Cove marina. We drove a while and enjoyed the spectacular scenery from the mountaintops of Grenada.
Mr. Cutty turned out to be a walking — or rather driving — encyclopedia of Grenada’s history and flora. Every five minutes he would announce a landmark as we sped by and explain the history behind it. Fights between British and French, revolutions, the invasion/intervention by the US in 1983. For an island in the trade wind zone, its history is quite stormy.
Now and then he would pull over, put the blinkers on and go cut some plant or tree or pick some flowers — urging us to stay in the car to not expose ourselves to the enthusiastic driving habits of his fellow countrymen.
Nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric, ylang ylang, cashew, mangoes, starfruit, golden apples, wax apples, etc, etc. It all grows in the wild. You never need to go hungry in Grenada. If you’re hungry, just go for a walk and ripe fruit will practically fall in your mouth as you’re walking.
We arrived at our first destination: Annandale falls. A short and easy walk brings you to the falls. It’s possible to jump in from a platform, but you have to make sure you clear the rocks. Mr. Cutty helpfully threw pebbles into the water to show where we should jump. We all released our inner Tarzan or Jane.
Here’s where I made a parenting mistake. Helder wasn’t sure about the jump and asked me to throw him in. I happily obliged, as throwing kids into water is one of my favorite pastimes. But I misjudged the angle or the height at which I threw him of the jumping platform. Time slowed down to a crawl as I saw him turn — during the two meter fall — from perfectly vertical to perfectly horizontal. “Noooooooooooooo!!” I groaned inside. Then Helder hit the water in a perfect belly flop. Every one was shaking their heads for the next half hour — Mr. Cutty most of all — while I tried to comfort him.
Next destination: Grand Etang national park, high up in the mountains of the island’s interior. Grand Etang is a crater lake in an extinct volcano. Rumor has it a mermaid lives in the depths that lures men to their watery grave. I didn’t go too close. You don’t sail 5000 miles across oceans to go drown in a lake.
We did the easiest, 15 minute hike to the lookout tower. On the way over we found a Mona monkey feasting on a mango. The monkey was tame — we could easily pet it — but seemed a bit detached from reality. It sported an impressive 1000 yard stare.
Next stop: Grenada Chocolate Company factory. This organic cocoa farmers’ and chocolate makers’ cooperative was created in 1999 by the aptly named Mr. Green, Mr. Browne and Mr. Brown. The factory itself is tiny. A small building, a few rooms. It is completely powered by solar energy.
The cocoa nuts are bought from local farmers. Then dried, sorted, roasted, opened, pressed and finally mixed with other ingredients to create a variety of chocolates, all of which are delicious. We sampled a few and bought the best to enjoy piecemeal in the coming weeks.
Then we were off again to see the old airport. On 25 October 1983, US marines landed nearby by helicopter and “captured” Pearls Airport during the invasion of Grenada. The marines seized two parked aircraft.
One was a Cubana Airlines turboprop which had arrived the day before from Havana with two high-level Cuban officials. The plane was supposed to stay for a day, but never left again. No idea what happened to the officials. They probably shrugged it off and headed to the nearest rum shack.
The other was an agricultural spray plane, a gift to Grenada from the Soviet Union. Both airplanes are still there, quietly rusting away, silent witnesses af Grenada’s sometimes tumultuous past.
The landing strip is now mainly used by youths for amateur drag racing, which Mr. Cutty gave a live demonstration of. It’s also — possibly — used by the odd nightly drug plane arriving from Venezuela.
Last stop on the island tour was a restaurant. Bought a few years ago by a Greek-German couple, it is the best (albeit only) restaurant on the east coast above Grenville. We were very hungry by then and the big buffet tasted delicious.
Afterwards, we had a beer — ok, a few beers — at Whisper Cove marina, as we conveniently arrived back during happy hour. All in all a very interesting tour. Worth getting up for.