Saturday, June 17, 2006

Grenada Land Tour

Hello, one more update before we travel. We left out our visit to the Hotel Maria ruins in St. George. The building was a first class hotel at one time, then became the headquarters for Maurice Bishop and is party. In 1983 when the U.S. and some of the Caribbean Islands invaded Grenada an U.S. Apache Helicopter bombed the building because it was Bishops Headquarters. The circle of tile you see was once a dance floor and the pool hangs over the mountain side.

Tom and Colleen on Unplugged arranged a land tour of Grenada for us and four other boats. Grenada is really a lush beautiful country. It was however, devastated by Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Emily. You can still see some of the destruction, but also rebuilding has occurred. Our first stop on the tour was a Nutmeg Factory. Grenada is known as the Spice Island and Nutmeg is one of there major spice productions. Since Ivan and Emily, Grenada's output of Nutmeg has dropped by 90 percent. A lot of factories closed and people out of work. The factory we saw is the only major one still in production. It will take 20 years to have the Nutmeg trees come to a full mature growth and full production. All the aspects of the production of Nutmeg are hand done, except the crushing of the shells. The shells also used to be crushed by the women workers, but they now have a machine to do it. All the sorting and packing and inspections is still done by hand. Their salary is $30 EC (Eastern Caribbean) dollars. The exchange rate to U.S. dollars is $2.67 - so they earn $11.24 U.S. dollars for an 8 hour shift. The work is hard and the building is HOT.

Our next stop was the site of the Carib Jump. In the 18th Century the French had overtaken the country, and were trying to enslave the last of native Carib Indians. They had wiped them all out, except 40 individuals. Instead of being taken into slavery, they leapt from this cliff to their death - all 40 of them. We had to walk through the graveyard to see the jump off point. We had lunch at a local restaurant - next to the graveyard. Kim had here first Barracuda - not bad....Michael had Jerk Pork.
After lunch we headed to the Chocolate Factory. Grenada's Cocoa Bean crops are a major crop for the country. This Factory was created by some friends as a Co-op. They went to California to learn the techniques. Their factory is run completely on solar power, however they do have electrical backup. The chocolate they make is pure - nothing added and it's very strong dark chocolate. You can buy it in candy bars or a powder - but you have to mix the powder with something - it isn't like Hershey's Cocoa - you need to add sugar and whatever else you like.

To end the day we hiked to a waterfall..We were having so much fun there that we didn't take a single still shot - we couldn't believe it. You'll have take our word for it - it was beautiful. You could stand under the falls and we wish we would have brought a bar of soap. Very refreshing after a long day tour. We ended up back at Martin's Marina and had a drink with our tour guides Ezee and partner and the other cruisers, before Mike and I had to take a bus back to our anchorage. Great day, great fun. We are heading out this morning to anchor outside the bay - then we will join Unplugged in Hartman Bay. We are going to get some Venezuela's electronic charts from them. We have also spotted another Vagabond 42 in our anchorage so we're going to talk with them and see what they have done with their boat. Cheers - Mike and Kim

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

St. Georges, Grenada


Grenada has a very interesting history, most recently with their transition to full independence in 1974. Grenada was under the rule of Sir Eric Gairy, a controversial figure who seemed to divide the country. This resulted in a a left-wing coup in 1979 by Maurice Bishop, who greatly admired Fidel Castro. Bishop tried to turn Grenada into a socialist state, improving medical care and education, but he did this at the cost of freedom. Anyone who opposed him was thrown in jail, an all indepedent newspapers were banned. His own ranks, second in command, Bernard Coard and his wife Phyllis and members of the army took Bishop prisoner. After a massive crowd freed him, an army group executed him along with half his cabinet. At this point (1983), the US, along with Grenada's easter Caribbean negihbors, launched a rescue mission and were welcomed with open arms. Twenty years later, Grenada is an independent county, democratic and productive. They are some of the nicest people we have met in the Caribbean.

St. Georges is built on a ridge, with the sea on one side and the Carenage on the other. It has many historic buildings that have been devasted with the storms and time. Many are now under reconstruction. We met up with Ken and Roberta on Second Wind here and toured the City of St. George on foot. It was a Sunday, so there was no one in the streets. There is a street called Church Street and their is a reason for that...every building is just about a church. The streets in St. George are very steep and windy - it is the Capital of Grenada a very busy and crowded. The old brik buildings are capped with antique fish scale tile roof - that long ago would arrive in as ballast of bricks and tiles. This is Government house in downtown. The next photos are panoramics of the Harbour.
This house was for sale - it would of made a very nice bed and breakfast - maybe. We found the building that housed the office of the Leader of the Opposition Do they oppose any Leader???? We had hoped they were in to discuss this - but they were out somewhere opposing someone. A view down the streets. We ended the tour with a visit to Fort George. on the hilltop at the west side of the Carenage. It is Grenada's oldest fort, established by the french in 1705. The national police now occupy most of the grounds - but took our own tour and found some interesting underground tunnels. The inner fort, just below the row of cannons, is the courtyard where Maurice Bishop was executed. You can see the bullet holes in the basketball poles made by the fireing squad.

That is all from Grenada. We will leave here around the 23rd - 24th of this month and head to Venezuela. We will stop and Los Testigos and Isla Margarita before making landfall in Puerta La Cruz, Venezuela. We will update when we have settled in. Until then - Cheers Mike and Kim

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

St. Davids, Grenada


Hello all, we left Carriacou and sailed down the windward side of Grenada to St. Davids Point which is identified by this landmark. The Harbour is also called St. Davids. Many years ago, sailing ships would sail in to this harbour to load up on spices and produce bound for Europe. Although never the site of a town, it was an important harbour. It is deeply indented enough to be well protected, and the reefs at the entrance reduce any swells when the trades turn south of east. It is home to Grenada Marina, a very popular haul out facility for hurricane season. We stayed here about a week and explored a little bit of this part of the island. Adjoining Grenada Marine is the Bel Air Plantation, an upmarket resort and restaurant. The food here was incredibly good. We took a hike over the hill and found a few good bays with great beaches. We found a bat cave too. We hiked over a couple bays and walked back a long way inland. The inner island was very lush with vegetation and farms.

We think the building officials must not be on island - actually it looked very sturdy and had a great view. Once we saw the post office we decided not to have our mail sent here so we moved on to Prickly Bay to a better post office.that's all from St. Davids, Cheers Mike and Kim

Sunday, June 11, 2006



Hello all, Carriacou was a very beautiful laid back island. There is over a hundred rum shops and only one gasoline station. The local rum is Iron Jack and they say it fries your brain. From talking to some of the locals we think there is truth in it. It is a peaceful place though, you can see a pelican sitting on a bouy, with a seagull sitting on the pelicans head, both very content. It is 17 miles northeast of Grenada, a rural island with small villages and great beaches. The island has about 6000 people, lots of dogs, cats, goats, sheep and donkeys. The people here live by farming, fishing and seafaring and they are all very friendly. We arrived first in Hillsborough to check in with Customs, Immigration and Port Authority. We only stayed one night in that anchorage as the holding was very bad. The next morning we headed over to Tyrrel Bay on the southwest end of the island. It is a deep, protected bay with a sandy beach that fronts the village. Tyrrel Bay is very peaceful, only two boat vendors to speak of, one sold mangrove oyster and the other wines and champagne. This is Robert, he is the mangrove oyster guy. He will harvest the oysters from the mangrove that are in a narrow lagoon in the northern part of the bay. It is an islet that goes back quiet a ways. He will harvest them then bring them back to your boat and shuck them for you. They are very small - and cost about $1 US dollar apiece. Well, we wanted to try the oysters, but also wanted the experience of seeing them get harvested. So Michael struck up a deal with Robert that for $20 US dollars we would tow him to the oyster beds (as he just had oars on his boat) to watch and film him as he was harvesting them. Robert said sure and made a date for the next day. So we tow Robert to the mangrove and we have our cameras on and shooting. The process - Robert gets out of his boat and steps on to the mangrove - but "Wait" he says, "don't laugh but I have to take my shorts off." Okay we think this is part of it, we have often seen local fisherman shed their clothes before they dive in the water to check their nets or traps, so didn't think much of it. They don't want to get salt water on their clothes. Remember fresh water is a commodity on any island. So we keep filming, next think you know we turn around and yep completely naked. So Kim turns away not wanting to be too intrusive and Robert continues to harvest approximately 30 oysters. We then tow him back to the boat (after he put his clothes on) and he shucks them for us. We find out a lot about Robert while he is shucking the oysters. It turns out his real name is John Bedeau and he has a reputation on the island for being an adventurous entrepreneur. He once owned a 100 year old Carriacou sloop on which he sailed, but its gone now. His latest venture, he told us, was to harvest oysters and sail them up to St. Martin to sell them. He is also very fond of Iron Jack, so we took everything with a grain of salt.

We took a hike over to the hill to another bay, and found a beautiful beach. With a guest house and a little restaurant. The beach is called L'Esterre. The guest house is called Hope's Inn and is located on the north side of L'Esterre. We had lunch here and enjoyed the view and the waitresses son, who kept us entertained. There were quiet a few characters along the main road in the village along Tyrrel Bay. We met a woman, Venus, but she introduced herself to us as Sexy Venus on our first introduction. She had a fruit stand in front of her house and sold us some very good fruit. She lived in the house behind, but it was a very bad disrepair. She also said she owned the land the house was on, beachfront property. She told us the local people were not nice to her, we never got the story of why. We told her they must be jealous, because she owns that nice beachfront property. She had a litter of Kittens also. The momma cat was gone and she was taking care of the kittens. We brought her some tuna to feed them, and a bag of dog food - none of the stores carried cat food so we thought that was better than nothing. We also met Sally a former cruiser who had opened a restaurant in Tyrrel Bay. She did have a business in Grenada - but the hurricanes destroyed them, so she ended up in Tyrrel Bay. Her breakfasts were great, and she said if you don't see it on the menu just ask. Her kitchen in the her house and the seating was on here patio. It was great and the stories she had, definitely and old salt. She also told us that she had come here because of the peaceful atmosphere, but the local currents ran very deep - but we never got the hear those stories.
We found this guy on the beach who was teaching the local kids to sail. The kids were great, and were enjoying it. The liked to show off a bit, when they saw someone watching.
Thats all from Carriacou, Cheers Mike and Kim


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