Sunday, July 12, 2009

Welcome to the Spice Island... the first few days.

No Obscene Language. Yeah, right. Fuck.

(Uh, huh.. they ARE some white ass legs. I know. Shut it.)

Before I start this installment, I thought I might create a cast of characters. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely intentional, as they do exist.

Ed - me. But you already know that.
Kim - my girlfriend.
Amanda, a.k.a. "Sunshine" a.k.a. "the Golden Child" (the only person I ever saw visibly tan) - my girlfriend's daughter.
Len - a.k.a. Lennox, a.k.a. Mr. Griffith, the owner of the Grand View Inn ( and Kim's daddy.)

So I thought things were going to be rough at the start, what with the lost (umm... lost. Right. That's it) luggage and all. There's two final stops - Grenada is very good at keeping H1N1 out - just better hope you don't have a smokers cough when you see the customs and immigration people, and you have to fill out a document. Probably the only place on the planet without at least one case. (No, that's not sarcasm, I'm actually impressed. I know. Fine line with a person like me.) I get through one, then BECAUSE I HAVE A LAPTOP - which no one ever checked - I get sent to the red line. Everyone made it - except me. Why was I not surprised? The red line had about thirty people in it. The night was about to get real long. Then, as I settled at the end, the same woman came to me and mumbled something, mentioned a name (won't say who, mostly because I'm not totally sure I heard right in the first place) and put me back in the green line, which except for me, was empty. I was in Grenada! Woo-hoo!

I stepped into the air for the first time. Humid, but pleasant and really clean. Joyful sounds of family meeting for the first time in awhile. And as I walked, the sweet chirp of cabbies asking if I needed a ride. I mean, it's an airport, right?

Inside the Pirate's Cove restaurant... shot from the balcony. That's right, you even get a view while you eat.

So we get into the vehicles that came to meet us and drive to the Grand View Inn. After a long day, I figured maybe sandwiches... no. They had a full dinner for us, fresh and hot. I was offered the option of chicken or fish - living where I do, fish is a disappointment - but I felt adventurous. Fish. I was not disappointed - a delicate tuna steak, marinated and grilled. Absolutely wonderful! Who knew? Guess it pays to have local fishermen - yes, fishermen, they're all men there. One whole side of the restaurant is open to Grand Anse bay... and it's beautiful at night.

My first pic - Grand Anse bay at night.

Same place the next morning - yeah, I know I used it in the last blog. Wouldn't you?

Every room has a view. And they're bigger than half the apartments in Manhattan.

- and settled in for the night. Okay, collapsed. The next morning we showered, went to breakfast with the early arriving family members, and planned out the day. Well, sort of.

The restaurant balcony. Spent a lot of time here. The cluttered table - that was me.

We needed - well, I only needed one of them - EC dollars and a Grenadian license. I just wanted the money. Kim and her daughter, Amanda, wanted their license too. I didn't want one, and here's why...

This and 30.00 EC is what you need (those are the wedding photographers...I "borrowed" this pic and the next one too.)

EC money - all I really wanted. That's the photog's website in the corner.

It only took a few minutes to notice what I didn't see in my exhausted haze the night before: we're on the wrong side of the road! (Well, to me, anyway.) Realization: UK style. And the roads are as narrow as European city streets, tightly curved. But the locals can take them like they're straight open freeways. In fact, even though there are places where a white line with the word STOP painted on the road, this is purely optional, and should be viewed more as a yield. Helpful hint, if you don't want to get rear ended. Good stuff to know if you plan to get a Grenadian license. To be honest, I had enough of that in 3 years of driving through Germany. I was more than happy to be chauffeured for two weeks.

No, it's not backwards. Yes, I'm riding bitch (Amanda's driving.)

So after about ten minutes of waiting, the ladies come out, licenses in hand. We head to the bank - and I find out it's a Scotia, a common bank here in Canada. I give the teller 260.00 Canadian and get 586.00 EC. Woo-hoo! I feel rich! Turns out things are a little more expensive in EC, but still less than I'd pay in good ol' Canada. Cigarettes, for instance. Here - 100.00 a carton, roughly. Duty free for Marlboro mediums 50.00. In Grenada - for Marlboro reds, my favorite - about 40.00. I wish I knew that before I got to Grenada. Before I left, I gave my duty free carton (or part of it, I used some) to one of the groundskeepers, a funny guy who had a habit of borrowing a smoke from Kim and taking another for later. I think he was in smoker heaven after that. During the first day or two, I was also introduced to my new favorite soft drink, Ting.

On our balcony - an unexpected delight.

Someone asked if I'd like to try one. It was hot - duh - so I took it and gulped it down. Then I looked at the labe seriously. Grapefruit. What? I fucking hate grapefruit! But this was good, and it's also a great mixer for rum in a pinch! Thank God we can get it here in Winnipeg.

The port along the Caranage, the main thoroughfare into St. George's (from Grand Anse, where we stayed.)

The first real place we went was St. George's on market day. Like I said, the Grand View Inn uses freshly caught fish on their menu, so the owner personally goes down and selects the fish every couple of days. The first picture in this blog was taken in the fish market - it really DOES say No Obscene Language, and if you do it, I think you get arrested and fined. I wasn't willing to drop too many F-bombs just so I could find out.

Tuna and red snapper, fresh in - Len bought 25 pounds of tuna, and it came in a huge block. Can't get that from a can.

The market is there virtually every day, but on Saturday, they actually close off a section of street in the old market square. On Saturday everybody's an entrepreneur. From the individual who has his/her own garden and fruit trees...

Can't get no fresher than that. And if the bananas have brown spots, fucking eat them! They're even better there... ( I know, backwards, right?)

... to large spice and produce stands, each competing for your business. The best part is, they don't give a shit if you're a tourist, you're treated like everyone else. The prices and service are the same, no matter who you are. Refreshing. Try that in Mexico.

Just outside the actual market - turn left, and it's a myriad of stands.

It's rainy season there right now - and that day it was beautiful as we arrived, and less than five minutes after I took the above photo, we were hit with a deluge. We bolted into the market, and I got my funniest moment with a Rasta. He offered to sell me a necklace, and when I said no, he, ever quick thinking took note of the cigarette in my mouth and offered to sell me some ganja. I laughed and politely declined, he wished me a nice day, and moved on. Even dealers are nice.

Grenada is the Spice Island, for good reason. Everything can grow there. Nutmeg is the principle spice, though cinnamon, cloves, cocoa, bay leaves, vanilla, saffron, and a number of others grow there. Bananas are bananas, and little bananas are called figs. When you taste one, you can actually taste some of the spices in the soil with each bite. And you can wait till they turn brown and STILL eat them - they're only sweeter. The market had tons of spices, and one of the things we bought was pepper sauce. I happened to ask for pepper for my eggs the morning before we went, and the waitress brought me pepper sauce. When in Rome, I figured. I tried it and loved it.

On the way back, we passed what was referred to as "the Pink Place." Patrick's. The restaurant I would have tried oildown in. Unfortunately, even though I took the photos, I wasn't able to get to the place when he was open.

The sign - I saw it and forced a squealing halt. Kim's sister must've hated me for that.

The actual restaurant from the outside - yeah, I know it's lavender. Almost the same thing, right?

I don't know who the guy on the porch is - could have been the elusive Patrick, but he wasn't talking. Well, he did, but it was in Patois, so it's the same thing. We'll have to wait to find out.

Next episode: How to attract monkeys and the night before the wedding. Thanks for waiting...

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