Grenada/Carriacou: December 4-21, 2008

Click on the above thumbnail for a map during this time period


My (Chuck's) mother (Evelyn),  sister (Zona), and nephew (Erik) came to visit us in Grenada during the period December 10 through 17.  We all went on a tour of the island with our favorite tour-master Cutty.  It was my third such tour, but with the good company and Cutty's easy-going but jam-packed itinerary it was still fun.  We took taxis into St. George so the girls could shop for mementos and Barb could get some groceries from the market.  On one occasion we returned by bus so our guests could experience the driving and crowding.  Erik and I did the Hash House Harrier run while the girls went to a potluck at Clarkes Court Marina.  My knee complained a little during the run, and a lot afterwards -- it looks like my running days are over, unless I can get it repaired one day.  Sunday morning we moved the boat from Clarkes Court Marina (where we were very pleased to find that the side gate of our cockpit was at exactly the right height relative to the floating dock, and so Mom could easy get on and off the boat, a not inconsiderable concern for an 89 year-old woman) over to the anchorage at Hog Island, the better to access Roger's Sunday heaped offering of barbequed chicken and five or six provisions, and also the better to give our guests an "at anchor" experience.  We had a delicious lunch at BB's in downtown St. George, and another nice lunch at Le Phare Bleu, where Zona and Barb availed themselves of the pool.  We had a French dinner at Whisper Cove, where we were surprised to discover that Marie and Luke have returned to France for good, and have been replaced at the restaurant by an energetic (um -- frantic?) French couple whose eagerness to please is matched only by their almost total lack of English.  They were still using Luke's printed menu, but we had to point to our selections.  Some of us ordered rum punches, but got Ti punches.  (Cf. here for a description of Ti punch.)  Later, Erik tried again for a rum punch, and got what looked like a rum and coke.  Barb and I shared a salad, and had an interesting time attempting to ask for an extra plate.  But the new proprietors are indeed eager to please, and the food is at least as good as it was under Luke.  But if I were spending any extra time in Grenada, I would volunteer to teach them a little English.  Words like "water", "plate", "punch", and "bread" would immediately be of some use.

A week wasn't long enough, as far as we were concerned.  They probably felt that way too -- it was approaching 20 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit) in North Dakota while they were with us.  In any case, they were great guests, and we hope to have them back again very soon.

A spry 89 yr. old goes for a walk on the overgrown path from Clarkes Court toward the new bridge

New bridge from mainland to Hog Island: another bridge to nowhere

Many stops on tour of Grenada for guide and driver Cutty to show us flora or ...

... fauna ...

... or other points of interest, like this ruin of a windmill for grinding sugar cane

Girls went smimming at Annandale falls

In the boiling room of the River Antoine rum factory

Monkey (left) and Erik at roadside stop -- where monkeys are always present -- in the Grand Etang forest

Cutty provided the candy and the idea: put it in your pocket ...

... or hold up this banana

This fellow knew all of Cutty's tricks

Barb and Zona walk the beach near the end of our tour

Cutty and our crew at the end of the tour of Grenada

Lunch at BB's in St. George

Erik and Mom at BB's

Zona wheeling and dealing in the market

On the way to Roger's for late lunch

Lunch at Roger's

Back to Clarkes Court after an overnight at Hog Island

Zona and Erik aboard the Swedish lightship at Le Phare Bleu

Pool at Le Phare Bleu

Dinner at Whisper Cove

On the long walk to the clubhouse from our dock at Clarkes Court

Saying goodbye -- note warm clothes on Mom and Zona

While we were in Grenada, I finally found at Island Water World what I thought was a small-enough 4D battery to replace the starting battery for the genset.  Since our arrival in Grenada on Dec. 4 we had been hanging  in Prickly Bay while waiting for our company, and moved over to Clarkes Court Marina on the very morning (Dec. 10) that they were due.  The battery had already been delivered.  Alas, it was too big to fit into the existing battery box.  After a few phone calls (by Barb -- who doesn't mind using the phone nearly as much as I do) we succeeded in arranging for an employee of Enza Marine to alter the box in his off time.  Turned out it took longer than he thought, and that the new box then wouldn't fit between the existing fiddles on its platform in the engine room and so a fiddle had to be removed and re-fiberglassed, but in the end by staying only one more day after our guests left, we had, for ONLY (groan) US$200 an altered box and an altered platform upon which to strap it.  (The genset sure starts nicely now, though.)


So on Thursday, December 18, we made the piece-of-cake trip up to Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.  We had heard that a three-day parang festival was to begin on Friday, December 19, the day of my birth, and so we decided to combine a nice dinner with a visit to the first night of parang.  (Cf. here for an account of Trinidad parang.)  We knew that Grenada/Carriacou granted a sensible 24 hours to leave after checking out, and so we decided to catch a maxi-taxi in to Hillsborough, check out, have some lunch, and ask around about the festival.  Folks in the maxi-taxi thought the entertainment might start as early as 6 or 7, but said the "real" parang was on Sunday night.  We asked at the Customs office, and a nice man said that it should start at about 7, but that the "real" parang was on Sunday night.  We asked at immigration, and the extremely friendly young man explained that Carriacou is a small island, with everyone knowing everyone, and that, as performed by locals, the parang songs were often about local events and local people, and that these songs were enormously fun and funny, and were performed on Sunday, and so, in short, the "real" parang is on Sunday.  We caught a maxi-taxi back to the boat to rest for a bit and clean up for the night's festivities, but asked along the way about parang.  Found out the "real" parang is on Sunday. Our favorite "boat boy", Robert, came paddling up with his mismatched oars, and we asked him about the festival.  He said he never went himself but that he knew that the "real" parang was on Sunday night.  We got ourselves (relatively) dolled up, and took the dinghy back to the dock and again caught a maxi-taxi in to town.  There were some young guys aboard, who when asked acknowledged that they were going in to party on a Friday night.  Would they be going to the parang?  Maybe, but the "real" parang wouldn't be until Sunday.  (By the way, the maxi-taxi fare is EC$3.50 [Eastern Caribbean], about US$1.30.)  In town, we lolly-gagged a bit, enjoying some "Jack Iron" and "Ting",  (cf. here about Jack Iron), and then caught a regular taxi up to Bogles Round House restaurant.  (Taxi fare:  EC$20)  Barb had lobster and I had rack of lamb.  Superb.  Afterwards, a surprise with chocolate and cake and ice cream and a candle, which I succeeded in extinguishing on my very first attempt (and did indeed get my wish later on.)  Then we called our taxi and got a ride back to Hillsborough, where it was raining.  Asked around and found the venue, and entered a concrete-paved area that apparently also serves on occasion as a tennis court and/or basketball court, surrounded on three sides by tin roof shelter, under which would-be spectators were bunched, leaving the plastic chairs unoccupied in the rain in the center of the court.  There were also three awnings pitched in the court, behind the chairs.  One for general spectators, apparently.  One for the sound engineers and their equipment, and one -- as it soon became clear -- for the high muckety-mucks.  We sat ourselves down in the chairs for the muckety-mucks, and were politely informed that we would have to move when the "honored guests" -- she didn't call them mm's -- arrived.  And so we did, and so they arrived, leaving as it turned out, plenty of room under the awning for non-mm's to stand behind them.  And so it came to pass that we watched the first night of the three-day parang festival in the rain under the awning with the politicians, military brass and high church officials, many of whom apparently came from the "mainland" of Grenada to be present for the opening ceremonies.  Which ceremonies, don't you know, that had been delayed by the rain, so that even though we had arrived very late, we were nevertheless fortunate to be able to savor the wit, eloquence, and deep emotion of the remarks from virtually every person in turn under the awning, save for the peanut gallery consisting of two white folks who thank god had dressed up for a birthday celebration and were not wearing tank tops and shorts and tennis shoes.

There were at least three camera setups on impressive tripods, with photographers documenting the speeches and the subsequent musical acts for posterity, or at least for transmission on TV, which isn't really the same thing, is it?  They popped in and out of our awning, depending upon how much rain was falling on the court.  If it rained just a little, they stayed in the court and used umbrellas over their cameras.  If it rained a lot, they moved under our awning.  Notice that I said "our" awning, for indeed it truly became "our" awning when I ventured out to fetch a couple of the wet plastic chairs that were sitting unused in the foreground of the court.  It became "our" awning when the hostess who had been taking drink and food orders from the mm's gave me a large white rag with which to wipe the rain off the chairs, and when she raised no objects when we switched from standing behind the mm's to sitting behind them.  Oh, I tell you we were feeling pretty smug.  At least until the musical acts began.  For then it became apparent that on the first night of the three night parang festival, anyone with any interest in performing any Christmas-related song whatsoever had been welcomed by the program committee, without regard to any possible connection with parang.  So we heard a variety of Christmas carols -- such as Silent Night or White Christmas -- sung by children's groups at about the same level of musicality as a grade-school Christmas program.  Indeed, some of the groups were grade-school groups.  Others were from Lady's groups, but at a not-much- higher level of musicality.  And then, a small pause, and an urgent plea for the members of a local parang group to assemble themselves on the stage.  Keep in mind that because of rain delays by this time we are many hours later on the program than we would have been otherwise.  Perhaps the program committee had neglected to provide the acts with the program.  In any case, after another pause, the master of ceremonies returned to the stage to announce that since not all members of the local group could be found, and since another group was ready, the ready group would instead perform.  The group was good.  They had good voices, possessed some of the traditional parang musical instruments, and were fun to listen to.  To my ears they didn't really sound like "parang", but no matter.  But by this time it is 12:30 AM, and we had been told that the maxi-taxis only run until 1 AM.  So we listened to a few numbers, and then quietly left our awning.  It was raining softly but we had umbrellas.  Alas, what we didn't have was either a maxi-taxi or a conventional taxi.  The taxi-stand area was deserted of taxis.  The few bystanders staggering about seemed to be surprised that anyone would want to catch a taxi at that time of night.  And then suddenly one of the bystanders says he has a ride for us, and stops a car and tells the driver to take us to Tyrrel Bay.  "It is ok," he says.  "The driver is a policeman here on the island."

"Can we catch a ride?", we ask.  There is a not-particularly enthusiastic response which we interpret nonetheless to be sufficiently positive, and we jump in the back seat.  The car is not a marked car.  The driver is not in uniform.  If this were Venezuela instead of Carriacou, we probably are in deep trouble.  We are told his companion, also in the front seat, of course, is also a policeman, but is from St. George in Grenada.  I ask if the driver is out patrolling, and he indicates that he is, and that he patrols the entire island.  So getting a ride to the other side of the island no longer seems like a huge imposition, and we sit back and chat with them about Barack Obama, etc.  When we reach Tyrrel Bay, I ask if he will accept a tip, and he indicates that it would be all right.  So I give him the equivalent of taxi rather than maxi-taxi fare, and we step out into the pouring rain.  The dinghy is filled with water.  I take off my nice dress shoes and roll up my pants cuffs and pump out some of the water.  By the time we reach our boat in the anchorage we are soaked, but too hepped up to sleep.  It is way past 2 AM when the reading lights are extinguished.

Next morning, we are up at 6 AM in order to get ready for departure.  What, you were expecting an account about the real parang on Sunday night?  We have no idea.  We left on Saturday morning for Bequia.  But, faithful readers, our trip to and adventures in Bequia are other stories for another time.  See you then?

The empty (and wet) chairs in the court

A uniformed police officer who stood behind our awning

One of many "kid" acts

The only act that we saw that actually could be said to have performed parang