Here’s another picture blog. This one is our tour of Grenada Island with Shademan, Steve and Kelly from Slow Flight and Stephen and Natasha from Turning Points.
We all piled into Shademan’s bus, which thankfully wasn’t as full as it was for the hash.
Our first stop was at Laura’s Spice Garden. It was really cool, because aside from seeing what things such as turmeric and cinnamon look like growing they also explained the herbal remedy qualities of each plant. Unfortunately, my memory is not good enough to remember them, but I will certainly Google herbal remedies for such things as migraines, high blood pressure, and ulcers in the future. Eighty to 90 percent of the nutmeg trees were lost in Hurricane Ivan. Before the hurricane there were some 9,000 trees on the island. The one pictured above was donated by visiting royalty.
Nutmeg was replanted, but it takes 10 years for the trees to mature enough to make a fruit crop, so nutmeg is just coming back as a commercial crop. Nutmeg doesn’t look like a nut when it is growing. The seed inside the fruit is the nutmeg.
The fruit splits open when ripe, which is the symbol on the Grenadian flag. The nut that you grind up for use as a spice is inside a shell, which is inside a red outer covering of mace. Mace is another spice that is separated and sold on its own.
Cashews also grow very interestingly: outside the fruit. On the leaf on the right, cashews are shown preprocessed and one is still attached to the fruit. The fruit hangs from the tree with the nut hanging from the bottom. Weird. In Thailand, I visited a processing “plant” where cashew skins are removed by hand using paring knives. Once peeled this way, they resemble the cashews you see in the store: white not green.
Soursop is a weird looking fruit. We’ve never heard of anyone eating the fruit, only the juice mixed with milk or water and sugar or as a flavoring in ice cream.
Cocoa is a big industry here and yet they still only provide 1% of the world’s chocolate. It was also big in the Dominican Republic, where we toured a chocolate factory earlier (therefore, I will skip over the chocolate factory tour here). There were so many delicious smelling plants at Laura’s Spice Garden that I won’t bore you with. But if you ever get the chance to smell lemon rosemary, do yourself a favor and stop and smell the herbs!
Grenada is far from flat and we had to drive up and down hills all day. Here is a view looking down on St Georges, if I am remembering correctly. I think it was near here where we passed over Leaper’s Hill, a sad spot named for the people who leapt to their deaths rather than return to slavery. I think I would have done the same.
On a lighter note, we also passed a house where a man wanted to show his love for his fiancé and built her a house of hearts. Sweet, right? Maybe, but I wonder if they ever get tired of looking at hearts. It does make the house stand out from all its neighbors.
We toured another rum distillery and, although I’ve blogged about one before, I’ll include this one because the processes they use are so old. The methods have changed very little over the last hundred or so years.
After the sugar cane is harvested from the fields, it is tossed on this conveyor belt run by a water wheel.
The cane goes through a crusher that squeezes out the juice and sends the pulp out the other side. The pulp is carted off to be used in the incinerator.
The incinerator heats the juice. Each tub gets closer and closer to the heat source and hotter and hotter.
The juice comes through a pipe to the first tub. When it comes up to a certain temperature, it is hand ladled into the next tub. This process is repeated until it comes to a boil in the last tub.
From the last tub it is piped into the fermentation tanks, where it is left for three or so days. Doesn’t it look like a good place to get tetanus?
In the distilling process, the alcohol is vaporized, separated from the methanol (which is what makes you go blind drinking bad moonshine), and then captured and returned to liquid form. From the time they harvest the sugar cane until it is bottled as rum takes 7 days. Seven days! They only make white rum and it is not barrel aged or anything to add flavor. It is really quite interesting. It’s too bad the rum tastes like crap. I mean, it is seriously bad. We were allowed to drink unlimited samples. Between the six of us, we may have drank one sample, but I doubt it. Everyone likened it to drinking paint stripper. However, when I surveyed the locals I’ve met about it, all but very few drink Rivers rum. It must be really cheap. We honestly don’t know, because none of us were interested enough to ask how much it sells for. If we see the 80%+ alcohol content bottles in the grocery store, I may pick one up. I bet it will kill fish super fast when sprayed in their gills! It might also be good for cleaning winches.
I thought this was cool even seen through the rain. It is a community mud oven still used today for baking bread.
And here is what pineapples look like when they are growing alongside the road.
Shademan pulled up to a post office and said we are having lunch here. We all laughed, as we thought he was kidding. He wasn’t kidding. We entered the post office building and found a table set for us with a buffet style meal laid out. A wall separated the post office, though, so we weren’t truly eating in the post office. We had chicken and/or fish in a brown gravy, peas and rice, and potato salad. It was delicious and we commended Shademan on his choice.
We drove up to Crater Lake. The temperature dropped majorly and we were in the clouds. I was actually chilly, which is a pleasant change. Shademan asked for some potato chips, which he tossed in the water and a swarm of hungry fish immediately came to the surface.
Crater Lake is the major water supply for the island of Grenada. The lake doesn’t look all that big, but it is supposed to be very deep. American divers tried to measure it, but couldn’t find the bottom. No one is allowed to swim in it because it is considered too dangerous. We are in the rainy season now and we are getting rain almost daily, which must keep the lake topped up, but there doesn’t seem to be much danger of it going dry in the dry season.
From Crater Lake, we drove down to Concord Falls. We were going to swim here, but it poured down rain most of the day. This caused dirty water to rush into the pool at the bottom. Yuck. Maybe another day.
On our way back to Hartman Bay, we passed the old airport. It is closed and replaced by the airport in St Georges. In 1979 Russia and Cuba came into Grenada at the will of Maurice Bishop, who led a coup and overthrew Prime Minister Eric Gairy while he was traveling in the US. Bishop led a small group that wanted the country to join the Communist party. Gairy, supported by the majority of Grenadians, asked for the help of the US to regain democratic control of the country. When we ousted the Russians and Cubans, Fidel Castro had two planes on the island.
He asked for them back and was denied. The Grenadian government left the planes to rot and they still sit there today amongst the goats. That was a long story made very short, but the effect is that Grenadians really like Americans and are some of the friendliest people we have met on our travels. The lady in the picture at the top of the page runs Shademan’s favorite beer stop and is just such a nice person. She even let the ladies inside her house to use her restroom. From politics to potty in one paragraph. Haha!