The first time I was in Grenada was shortly after the US invasion, when the lush island was littered with burned-out tanks, bullet-ridden and shelled-out buildings, and people were wary of strangers. Now the murdered premier Maurice Bishop has achieved hero status with the airport named after him, though the reason for his execution was his link with Castro. I have been back several times in between and seen the island in its various stages of development – from only a couple of beach front hotels to some spanking new developments…and more to come.
St George’s harbour and the marina
The Fort where Maurice Bishop was murdered
The lead up to this much longed-for holiday with our university gang was fraught with the spectre of positive Covid tests, and not being able to escape the grey English winter.
Richard, Fi, Hil, self, Ross and John – gang on the beach!
But all is well and a couple of weeks ago we found ourselves checking into the gorgeous Mt Cinnamon Hotel set back from the idyllic Grande Anse beach. Despite having to wait for the results of our PCR test on arrival – rather a palaver which was in fact cancelled two days after our arrival – our quarantine on the beach could not have been more pleasant!
Sunset from the room (courtesy John Pooler)
Waiting for the PCR test results…
Our ten days consist of swimming, walking, rum punches, Carib beers, sunsets, a bit of birdwatching, six dives, a sailing trip (on Savvy’s local sailing yacht skippered by Danny and crewed by Brian), and more swimming, rum punches, Carib beers and sunsets! What’s not to like?
The island tour was fun too – waterfalls, lakes, monkeys in the forest and Mark’s home-made rum!
The biggest excitement of the trip is when my crown fell off one morning. Luckily the ever-smiling Nykkia is on hand and rings the local dentist. ‘No need to book – its walk in’, she says gaily. When I arrive at 9 am there are already 15 people on the list and no receptionist in sight. I add my name and sit and wait, and wait, and wait…
Think of calming things when waiting – like last night’s sunset!
The waiting room is dingy and hot, everyone wears masks but even so I nab a place by the door. People come and go – some missing their turns when they nip out for a moment – so the list shortens. Finally the largest woman I have seen in a very long time manoeuvres sideways through the door and asks me what she can do for me. As it’s only a five-minute job I get ushered into another even dingier room with only a dental chair – this I imagine must be the extraction room; next door is a room with a drill and the dentists shout through the open door to each other as they work! Its all very basic!
…and another to maintain my patience
My saviour leans over me, maskless. Now I feel helpless (only 36% of Grenadians are vaccinated) but somehow manage to turn the conversation round to vaccination and she tells me she’s had three jabs…phew. Job soon done and EC$200 later I am back on the streets, buying spices in the market.
Our erudite birdwatching guide, Simon, told us the reason for vaccination shyness on the island – in addition to all the anti-vax rubbish on social media – is that the politicians hijacked the messaging and in so doing managed to put people off (sounds familiar somehow doesn’t it, science taking second place?).
Furthermore, as the Spice Island, many people believe in the efficacy of tradition medicine and cures. Up until carnival in August there had only been one death but, fed up with being locked down, the people rebelled and celebrated and suddenly the deaths climbed to 200. Now lockdown (18 months of it they had) is easing again and the government is about to open the island to cruise ships to try and save the devastated economy, which is almost entirely reliant on tourism.
An abandoned hotel complex
Meanwhile the Chinese, like in Barbados, are making stealthy inroads and building social housing, sports stadia and other infrastructure to glean votes at the UN and influence in general.
Two different Chinese social housing projects – a blot on the landscape!
Nevertheless Grenada is a beautiful island with some of the friendliest people – everyone is thrilled to see visitors again. I would strongly recommend it – and there are still great deals to be had!