So, there I was on the island of Grenada with a monkey on my back. His name was Jack… (No, Jack’s first name wasn’t Capt., it was Jack dummy! Nor was his last name Daniels.)
I’m sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. Friday was to be a day for a grand tour of Grenada via ground transport. Sharkbait did the organization under the cover of darkness the evening that we arrived on this Great island while many of us sat around the pool telling stories and marveling at the 125’ sailing yacht anchored just off shore in front of our resort. It’s two masts illuminated all of its grandeur in the ink well of darkness.
Andrew had contacted the taxi driver that provided service from the airport who assured Andrew (Sharkbait) that he would acquire a properly sized “bus” for our touring crew of 14 sweaty travelers. We were set for a 9am departure with the intention of a 3pm return so that those going on the night dive could make their 5:45 hack for diving. With a much needed nights sleep, the bus arrived right on time. Even Rosie commented very quietly, “Uh, are we all going to fit in that?”
Sure enough, it was a bit like loading the Ark, except there would be no two-by-two this time. Just one sardine at a time. Noah must have said, “Get on the bus dammit, for there is a grand adventure ahead and you don’t want to be left behind.” And so they did. Our LITTLE Ark pulled out of dock right on time and Rosie wasted no time telling our Captain “Jeff”, “Jeff, I gotta’ go pottie…”, shortly followed by the expected question from the back of the bus “Are we having FUN!?” To which all of the travelers aboard proclaimed in unison “YES!”. And we were on our way in this little rickety 10 person van with 14 people stuffed in it. Oh, I mean bus / Ark, …. Oh, what ever.
Our general path of travel was a clockwise traversal of about ¾ of the circumference of the approx. 130 square miles of the island. All of the roads are full of potholes and are very narrow. The pedestrians are just as fearless as the drivers squeezing by each other at speed, 20mph most of the time, with barely a wing skin worth of thickness between them. The first 15min of the trip was a real trust builder that our driver wasn’t going to flatten one of the many pedestrians that we would pass during the day or scrape half of the bus off on a passing vehicle going the other way during the rest of our eight hour adventure. I’ll pause for you to do a little quick math…
This is a pretty rugged island with some steep elevation changes on narrow roads that provide some pretty amazing landscapes. Jeff seemed particularly proud of their land fill and pointed it out as we went buy. It is true that many of these islands simply don’t have an organized place or plan for refuse disposal.
Our land Ark and its cargo bounced through the mountain roads with excitement around every sharp corner for about an hour before reaching its first intended destination. A nutmeg factory.
We pulled into the town of Gouyav with anticipation to experience one of the process that produces a spice product that this island is known for. The bus wasted no time unloading the uncomfortable and hot seats. We took a tour of the factory which I guess totaled about 3500 square feet in size. The only piece of automation was a quite primitive centrifugal nut cracker. The rest was manual labor for sorting and cleaning. This island isn’t the biggest producer of nutmeg, but prides itself on the best quality in the world. The education and tour took about twenty minutes with a stop in the gift shop to purchase some samples to take home, which we did.
Back on the bus, one-by-one, the breath of life of our Ark was loaded once again. There is an evil twist to this transport. The cargo hold has but one exit handle on the Outside of the bus! The interior exit mechanism was… INOP.
It was a relatively short drive through the mountain roads to the chocolate factory. I think everybody enjoyed this stop very much. Who doesn’t love chocolate!? Mmmm, I sense some cookies in my future. Er, screw it, gimme that chocolate bar!. We were greeted by our tour guide and general proprietor inside. She was great and took us straight out to a cocoa tree in the light drizzle of the rain forest. Under the cover of the tree, we all stood while she picked a fresh pod and cracked it open on a rock, handing out its sweet fruit for us to enjoy while she explained this great plant. That was a very neat experience, standing in the rain forest with a light rain falling, not getting wet, under a coca tree talking about this iconic plant.
We got the full processing tour that included a visit to the biggest praying mantis that you’ve ever seen.
Back in the guest center, Tanya and Chappy procured a chocolate smoothie which was amazing. A sip of that almost made my head pop off. Many of us bought pounds of this great chocolate which I am enjoying as I write this, listening to the waves crash onto the beach. I saw Sharkbait hauling off with a two pound block with a particular swagger of pride.