Grenada/Carriacou: February 19-March 2, 2008

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

February 23

Shortly after we arrive in Grenada, we learn that another Hash House Harrier is scheduled for the upcoming Saturday.   Gary and Jeanie (At Last) are in a slip at Clark's Court Marina, and have been there for some time because they have been entertaining a series of guests.   And because of that, they also have a rental car.   Gary had run with me at another Hash, and Jeanie had walked with Barb.  And so it is that the four of us drive up into the mountains of central Grenada in order to participate in yet another wild and wooly Hash.  This one is reported to be "very wet".   People keep making gestures with their arms that indicate depths up to mid-chest or higher.  Barb reconsiders her initial decision to take her little camera along.   The Hash is lovely.  Many instances of having to ford a stream, but water deliciously cool and refreshing, and never deeper than mid-thigh.   Of course, there are the usual number of narrow muddy paths up steep slippery slopes, exceeded in difficulty only by the equally slippery and steep downward slopes.   But, all in all, perhaps the easiest Hash we have been on, maybe because all of the uphill parts were on slopes so steep and muddy that it was not possible to run.   Usually, there are long stretches up grass paths or narrow roads where running is possible but oh-so-tiring because of the angle.  Not this time.  Of course, running over slippery rocks in the middle of a river has its own aspects of discomfort and concern, but we all arrive back at the rum shack safe and sound.   There we partake of yet another new Grenadian dish:  "crayfish waters" -- a soup-like dish with vegetables and rice and seasonings and, of course, crayfish from the local fresh water streams.  Yummy.

Clean clothes: before the Hash

February 27

Life if good.

 Well, sometimes it can be a little frustrating, as when it appeared that weeks of waiting for routine maintenance on the John Deere propulsion engine resulted in a mis-sealed heat-exchanger core that sapped away the precious and limited and impossible-to-replenish onboard supplies of the specialized coolant required for heavy duty diesel engines.  And then, suddenly, a phone call clarifies how to purge air out of the newly-refilled cooling system, and there is the hope that the coolant wasn’t really disappearing – the lowering levels might just have been caused by the venting of air trapped in the system during the refill.

We attend a jam session at Martin’s Marina in Grenada featuring four guitars and a harmonica.  One of the guitars (Gary, of Hashing fame) has become a friend, and although he made his living as a chiropractor, he and the harmonica used to be in a Toronto-based blues band that had 100 gigs a year.  The jam session is awesome.  Then, back to the boat to effect the afore-mentioned purging, and then dinghy over to the vessel “Magus” for an n-course meal prepared by the professionally-trained cheftress and admiral Yani.  Yum.  Here is how great the evening was:  remember we have lived in the South for many years.  The dessert was key lime pie, with a dollop of whipped cream.  Oh lordy, you can take me now.

The next morning, up at a sensible hour (instead of the planned dark-o-thirty) and a 5 hour trip up the coast of Grenada and across the gap to Carriacou.  The readings on the gauges are to dream for: cool operating temperatures (maybe cleaning the heat exchanger WAS a good thing), high oil pressure, moderate temps in the engine room, and, best of all, stable levels of coolant with no sign of loss.  Part way into the gap, shortly before passing the under-water volcano “Kickem’ Jenny”, we have a 46-inch mahi-mahi on the line.  Tuff guy.  Felt like 56 inches.  But I’ve learned (knock on wood) to play the tuff guys and to not set the brake too hard, and after a long fight we brought him aboard.  Of course, the gaff made a nice wound and his flopping about sprayed blood all over the cockpit, and the large waves in the waters north of “Kickem” made the fish-cleaning in the cockpit a challenge.  But in the end we have more than enough for 8 meals, one of which immediately becomes (as soon as we anchor) some of the most tasty fish sandwiches one could ever hope for. 

And then, a quiet time in a quiet anchorage at Tyrrel Bay.  I carefully and thoroughly clean the bloody cockpit, somewhat mindful of the topless lady in the French-flagged sailboat to our port, and Barb is deeply absorbed in her book.  I finish, and go to the pilothouse to do some reading of my own.  As they each arrive by small dinghy, we visit with the wine merchant Simon and the oyster-et-al merchant "Roberto", who told us last time that his name is "Robert", and we buy 6 green oranges from Roberto nee Robert.  Just before sundown, Barb notices that the western horizon is clear of clouds, and that for the first time in months, we have no blocking hills.  She urgently calls me down from the pilothouse and I arrive just in time to see the last of the sun disappear into the water.  Will we see the green flash?  You bet your sweet bippy we do, and we both dissolve into dancing, giggling, jigging, cackling teenagers.  Man-o-man, life is good.

Scene as the jam session begins

Gary (At Last), chiropractor and blues musician

Gary's lifelong friend Gordy, down from Toronto for a visit

John, the "mayor" of the Hog Island anchorage

Gary and Gordy serenade Angel

She seems pleased

February 28

After a leisurely 4-mile run to the south while Barb walks, we return to the boat just long enough for me to freshen up a bit and have some breakfast (I cannot run on a full stomach), and then we are off again on a hike up over the high ridge.  On the other side waits lunch at the "Cow Foot Restaurant".  We have learned to call ahead, so shortly after we arrive and have begun our cooling drinks on the veranda, piping hot rotis are delivered to the table.  Although several to-go customers appear briefly, we are the only sit-in customers.   As we are finishing our meal, the proprietress comes over and we have a very pleasant talk about her business and the quiet life on the island.   She and her husband have returned from London and now live on the next mountain over, with their home perched high on the edge offering a spectacular view of the sea and the shore.   Hard to understand why, but the hike back to the boat seems shorter than the hike to the restaurant.  Another quick trip to the boat, and then back to shore carting our nearly-finished rain catcher to stop in to have some grommets installed by the local sail maker, Andy at "In Stitches".   (Why a rain-catcher, you ask, when we have both a 400 gallon tank and a functioning water maker.   Because we intend on cruising up one or more rivers in Venezuela, where the water is mostly fresh but far too muddy for water-making.)  Andy drops everything else when we arrive, and has the grommets installed in no time.  Barb leaves with a big smile, because he has been very complimentary of her sewing.   I smile too, because he likes my design.  We smile until we get back to our pier, where it is no longer possible to smile.  We see five hawksbill turtles dying on their backs.   It is legal to "harvest" turtles here, although certain organizations are attempting to change that, and to discourage the harvest in the meantime.

Scene on the west side of the ridge

Scene from the east side of the ridge -- our next home?

Andy the sail maker

Five dead or dying hawksbill turtles on their backs

Sign on a pole right at the location of the five turtles

February 29

Having decided that walking is a "good thing", we decide to walk into Hillsborough for lunch.  Quick calls bring the disappointing news that neither Green Roof nor Roundhouse are open for lunch.  Darn.  Our last visit here we had great dinners at each of those places with friends.  I wear my running (GPS) watch, and learn it is about 4 miles from the Tyrrel Bay pier to the edge of Hillsborough.   Along the way, we pass maybe 25 small rum shacks.  Maybe more.  The cruising-guide author Chris Doyle describes the island as having 100 rum shacks and one filling station.   We stop in at the Customs office and ask the officer there for a recommendation for good local food.  He sends us to Lorrel's, where we have a good-if-not-spectacular typical local meal of meat (me: chicken; Barb: fish), rice, pasta, salad, and the starchy, firm, banana-shaped "provision" whose name neither Barb nor I can ever remember.  Afterwards, in respectful tribute to Steve (Receta), who introduced us to the place and the stuff, we stop at the unmarked rum shack at the back of a small convenience store for some Iron Jack.   The store faces main street.   The rum shack opens to the back to the sea.   The proprietor is Bill, who, we learn from one of the other customers, is the local justice of the peace.   Bill brings us our requested "eighth" of Jack Iron rum and two pewter glasses filled with ice, and one bottle of the grapefruit-based soft drink "Ting".  The "eighth" is an eighth of a liter, and is served in a recycled soda bottle whose gnarled design serves as convenient measure of just how much an eighth of a liter is.   The rum is decanted from a much larger container, you see.   Jack Iron, as I have described in earlier pages of this blog, is a very strong version of rum that is normally sent to rum makers for mixing with their product to bring it up to full strength.   But in Grenada and Carriacou, uniquely, we believe, it is sold "as is" for consumption.  We have purchased some absolutely horrible strong rums at other venues -- Three Rivers in Grenada comes immediately to mind -- but Jack Iron is surprisingly good when mixed with Ting.  We vow to pick some up (for medicinal purposes) before we leave Carriacou.   Again, the walk back toward the boat seems shorter than the one away from it.

THE filling station in Carriacou

March 1

Another nice hike today.   This time up to the top of nearby Chapeau Carre, listed as the highest peak on the island, at 945'.   Barb is perhaps a mite tuckered out from yesterday's long hike, so she stops in the deep woods at an abandoned set of buildings just a little short of the summit.   When I get to the "top" where we had previously gone with John and Ann (Living the Dream), I realize, aided by the improved visibility afforded by the reduced foliage due to the dry season, that there is in fact a somewhat higher peak just to the northwest.   I poke around and find a goat trail heading down the saddle toward the peak, and am soon able to scale the true summit of Chapeau Carre, from which I am delighted to say there is an unblocked view to the west and south.   So I take a number of pictures with Barb's little camera, and merge them into a panorama when I return to our computer.  You can see the result below.   On the way back we stop at one of the little grocery stores along the shore of Tyrrel Bay, and, among other things, purchase a bottle of Jack Iron.  Have a little trouble finding it, because under the label on the shelf there seems to be nothing but drinking water.   But, hmmm, the bottles have broken seals.  We ask the clerk, who explains that the containers do contain rebottled Jack Iron.   So for $7 EC ($2.80 US) we purchase a small container.   See the picture below, along with a T-shirt that we bought on yesterday's hike.

Sign on the exterior wall of a local school -- seen as we hiked past

The red-roofed home of the owner of Cow Foot Restaurant

Barb resting at an abandoned set of buildings high up the slope

The outdoor oven for the buildings

Panorama from the top of Chapeau Carre

"Comin' Around the Mountain" on the way back down

T-shirt and the Jack Iron sold to us in a recycled water bottle