This is our tour director Cutty. In the first picture below we're with him at his favorite "liming" spot and its actually at the end of the full day tour. The spot is described a bit below as the wedding photo shot and is a locals hangout. Cold, cheap beer! Cutty was great and had a broad knowledge of the varied fruits, trees, spices and island history. Ok, it's his country and his job, but after nine hours with this fellow sweeping us safely and confidently through a maze of cobbled, hectic paced roadways, vistas and screeching curves, we gained an appreciation for his knowledge and his country. Maybe the pictures below can start to grasp the island's bounty.
St. George's Harbour
The nutmeg tree was just about wiped out in Hurricane Ivan 2004. The nutmeg factories prior to the Hurricane employed some 7,000 people and production is now down to 1,000. The trees are slowly coming back, but needless to say the island no longer exports its nutmeg.
Oh, what a lovely bunch of bananas
This is the Cocoa bean tree and the picture below is of the cocoa pod broken open showing the beans inside. They are covered with a white, sweet, milky substance and Cutty had us taste them - it wasn't too bad.
Look at all the stuff you could buy. It was like a travelling medicine man show. They claim all these spices are good for something. There is a sucker born every minute so we bought the nutmeg oil supposedly good for arthritis and sinus - we'll let you know.
Our touring group and guide Cutty
The stop at Annandale Falls was our first encounter with the locals wanting us to pay for pictures with them or pictures of them. We managed to get past the woman wearing a fruit basket on her head to get to the falls where the locals wanted you to pay for pictures of them jumping into the pool at the bottom. We declined, but couldn't resist snapping a photo of a jump someone else was paying for. Alot of the island people believe if you take their picture you steal their soul - guess we got this guy's. We did end up contributing money to this madness.
We next wound our way around up to the Grand Etang (french for Big Pond) a tropical rainforest reserve covering some 3,800 acres. On the exposed ridges and high peaks, the densely growing trees, almost fully recovered from the ravages of two hurricanes, make a good show. Some are stunted and twisted into strange shapes, hence the name given to them, "Elfin Woodland". The lake at the top is a volcanic crater of fresh water. She is known locally as 'Mother of the Rains'. She is 12,000 years old and is said to be bottomless, with a mermaid in residence. (The actual depth is 28ft and no pictures of the mermaid yet).
We stopped for lunch at Grenville. This is Grenada's second largest town known locally as La Bay and more recently, Rainbow City. The town was established in 1796 for its trading facilities and safe anchorages. The Georgian architecture, with red roof tiles, brought as ballast by the ships coming to collect Rum, molasses and sugar are distinguishing features of the town. While waiting for lunch to be served, Cutty showed us an empty brazil nut pod. Each pod holds about 70 nuts. We need more money for rum so we have set up shop in this town.
Ok, we might be a little sketchy on this one. It was after lunch and a beer and Deb gets a little sleepy in a moving vehicle. We believe it is a community bread baking hut, but we may have to get back to you on this one.
We visited the Grenada Chocolate Company at the village of Hermitage. Dark chocolate is made from cocoa which is grown organically at the nearby Belmont Estate. Grenadian cocoa provides the flavour for all of the world's quality chocolates. We bought lots!!!
Cocoa Beans Drying - they slide the trays under each other if it rains and the roof slides over the top trays.
The Roaster (notice the ready can of WD-40 in the corner).
Mixing The Chocolate
Wrapping the Chocolate Bars
The Candy Bar
Next we toured River Antoine Rum Distillery (more like a moonshine operation). It is the oldest functioning distillery of it's kind. We understand the rum is not exported and that's probably a good thing - not alot of attention to cleanliness, but @ 150-160 proof, it probably doesn't matter. All the labeling of the bottles is done by hand by a group of individuals sitting around on plastic chairs. The filling of the bottles is done by placing cheesecloth over a Coleman cooler, pouring in the rum and filling the bottles thru the tap. Needless to say, we did not purchase any - the tasting after the tour about did us in.
La Sagesse Bay on the southeast side of the island. We invaded a very expensive resort here.
While in La Sagesse, Cutty found us a loofah. Ok now, maybe all you smarty pants know where loofahs come from, but we were clueless (or possibly didn't care). It starts as a green vegetable (from the Okra family) and we were told it tastes like a cucumber. After it dries out it gets a crusty shell on it. You then peel the outside off, shake out the seeds and VIOLA you have your loofah! Amazing!