Feb 10 Saturday
Flew Jet Blue to Grenada, no issues; C & I were easy enough although I may bring an extra bottle of wine next time so I can use the “Goods to Declare” line.
Got a taxi outside the terminal for the ride to the Sea Breeze Hotel. The hotel is located directly across from the Grand Anse Vendors Market, so very convenient to the beach and bus route. Being close to the road it is noisy and there is no view from the lower floors. It’s clean, the staff are friendly and it’s reasonably priced at around $75 a night including tax. I chose to stay here instead of our usual spot since I was flying out in the morning. I headed straight for St. Georges to load up on EC at the ATM. Being a weekend and Carnival I didn’t want to rely on the ATMs on Carriacou.
I grabbed a roti in town and stopped to see my friend at the central market then a bus back and finished out the night at the vendors market. There were a lot more people there in the evening, mostly students, so it was livelier than usual; good news for the small bars and food stalls.
Feb 11 Sunday
Taxi arrived as arranged, check in was easy as only five of us on the flight. First time I rode in a small plane, take off was a bit unnerving until we got to cruising altitude. It was a little hazy so I couldn’t get as good a view of the nearby islands as I had hoped. Taxis were available upon arrival at the airport.
I didn’t want to stay in town during Carnival as there is no way to get away from the revelry. I couldn’t get hold of Sunset Beach Hotel, where I’ve stayed before, so I contacted Curtis from Off the Hook as I remembered he had apartments for rent.
The apartment was nice, it was broken up into two rooms. Kitchen had a two-burner gas cooktop, dorm style fridge and a sink. It had some basic kitchen gear and when I asked Colleen for more she brought over an armful. The bedroom has a queen size bed and dresser. It has AC, but there is a large window facing the water and with the breeze blowing in I never used the AC and had to pull the sheets up a couple nights. It does make for restful sleeping as you can hear the waves breaking the shore. Bathroom had a shower with good pressure, but as with many places here there is no hot water. I would say it’s on par with Sunset Beach Hotel, both are well under $100 a night.
The bar itself is well known, it’s the iconic Caribbean beach bar, cobbled together with bits of this and that and built around tree trunks. During the day there is a nice crowd enjoying the beach, drinks and food. Evenings were quite except for Wednesday when they had a steel pan band playing. Overall, it’s a nice relaxed vibe where you can enjoy yourself as you please and no one bothers you.
I had a drink at the bar and another at the Banana Bar, I mentioned to Joe that I wanted to get some Jack Iron but didn’t have an empty bottle, so he gave me an extra one he had at the bar. Jack Iron is the official rum of Carriacou. It’s made in Trinadad and shipped to the island in barrels, you bring your empty bottle and they fill it for you. Not sure how strong it is, but my friends on Grenada who drink the 160-proof rum are reluctant to drink the Jack Iron. There is a shop just down the road from the driveway to Paradise Beach that sells it.
I headed into Hillsborough using the trail through the mangroves, someone had recently dressed up the trail so it was very easy to follow. On my way I ran into a guy, Mike, from the upper peninsula of Michigan, he was also traveling alone so we ended up hanging out for the festivities. I showed him a few of my favorite bars; Butterfly Bar, Snaggs built form an old water tank, and the last one in the row on the water by the ferry dock. The food stands were already set up in town so we grabbed a couple bowls of cow head soup and ate them at the picnic tables on the waterfront. Took a walk around town and stopped off here and there for a drink before taking the bus back to L’Estere. The bar was closed when we got back, but Curtis was working on a bus he had just bought so whenever we needed a drink he was happy to get us one.
February 12 Monday
The Monday J’Ouvert is one of the biggest parties of the year, it starts at 5:00 am but I didn’t get there until around 9:00. There is a lot of symbolism in the costumes people wear, most common is the Jab Jab or devil devil. They cover themselves with used motor oil or sometimes house paint and wear make shift helmets from old pots with animal horns attached. Some will be carrying bones or have raw meat hanging out of their mouths. You want to have old clothes to wear as you will likely get stained either by someone putting a hand print on you or just brushing up against people in the crowd. If you stay on the sidewalk you have a better chance of staying clean, in the street, forget it.
Trucks with DJ’s, sound systems and dancers circle around the few blocks in the main part of town and people follow them dancing and drinking, having a great time. Sometimes a woman may come up against you and start doing the “bumper vibration”, what we might call twerking; of course to be a good sport you paly along and grab them by the hips then start gyrating and bouncing up and down, maybe give them a couple playful slaps on the backside or stick one leg in the air and shake it around. Occasionally two women might sandwich you between them, which accounts for the oil stains on the back of my clothes as well as the front.
Mike met up with me after a while and we partied in the street until things started to wind down. Heading back to L’Estere via the trail we drank our way out of town, stopping at all the bars we didn’t stop at on the way in the other day. Now after starting the day with a flask of Jack Iron and then all the beers and rum drinks after that, by the time we got back I was ready for a little nap. I woke up a few hours later and although the Mas (night time party parade) goes until the wee hours of the morning, it was just too late for me to think about going back to town and starting all over again.
February 13 Tuesday
While the Monday J’Ouvert is in Hillsborough, on Tuesday there is a smaller one in L’Estere. After having my coffee on the beach, I walked up the road to the party, stopping for a saltfish and bake on the way. The festivities were in front of a small storefront with a counter inside where you can order food and a guy on the porch with some coolers selling drinks. It was a rustic place, and by that I mean the kitchen was a steel pot over a wood fire in the backyard and the facilities were a nearby outhouse. There was a truck out front with a sound system and various celebrity DJ’s, one of whom was Brandon McKie, AKA Killa B. He was surprised when I told him I start my day by listening to his music video, Celebrate, which was filmed on Paradise Beach.
There were a couple guys in colorful costumes with container of talcum powder that they spray in the air (would be interesting someday to find out the meanings of all this), they have their cups with them and you give them a drink of rum.
After I finished my flask of Jack Iron I headed back to the apartment and then chilled out at the beach. Mike came around later and we headed into town for the Parade of Bands, which is just the same trucks driving around the block playing music with revelers following along. We stayed until late in the night then grabbed a bus back.
February 14 Wednesday
Today was just a chillout/ detox day at the beach. Mike had taken the ferry back to Grenada so I was on my own again. Around mid-afternoon I took the scenic route into town, taking the bus going to Tyrell Bay before heading back to Hillsborough. Tyrell is the yachting center of the island; there were probably over 100 yachts in the well protected harbor. I saw the commercial dock construction that was taking place and the new supermarket that someone had mentioned. In town I had a few drinks and dinner before going back and just chilling on the beach into the night enjoying the steel pan band that was playing at the bar.
February 15 Thursday
Today I decided to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, hike the north end of the island. I had my breakfast on the beach then took the bus to Hillsborough. I picked up a pint bottle of dark rum to help keep my joints limber and got on the Windward bus. I got off in Bogles at the kiosk with the wildlife information and directions to Anse La Roche. The dirt road has a steady incline to it and only one pick up truck passed by me the whole time. The road goes through the forest and the canopy provides shade as you make your way up. I stayed on the road and didn’t take the trail to the top of the peak. At the highest point on the road I took a little break, the view was very nice, and I could see many of the islands we will be sailing to next month. Union, Mayreau, Canouan, Palm and a couple of the Tobago Cays.
Once fully relaxed I started to make my way to Windward. There is no shade on this side so it was a good choice to come up the other side. I stopped off at Petit Carenage, here to some improvements have been made; a new sign has been installed at the road, some trails have been cut and a bird viewing platform was built where the ship is grounded. Although this beach is usually deserted, there were two couples on it when I arrived.
Spent probably an hour there swimming and checking out the viewing platform before walking down to the Sunrise Disco for a couple beers. I took a walk along the water to see if any boats were being built; there was one partially completed but no one was working on it at the time.
I waited around for a bus, then went back to Hillsborough and had dinner before going back to the apartment. Just sent the rest of the evening relaxing on the beach.
February 16 Friday
My flight was scheduled for the afternoon so today was just a beach day, swimming and having a few beers. After flying back to Grenada, I took a taxi to the Grand Anse Beach Palace hotel, our favorite hotel in Grenada for many years. Since I was traveling alone and only staying two nights I requested a non-self-catering room and got one on the side facing the new Silver Sands Resort being built.
Went into St. Georges and had dinner at the Creole Shack then spent the rest of the evening at the vendors market on Grand Anse.
February 17 Saturday
Had breakfast at the hotel and then headed into town to see my spice goddess, Theresa, and pick up some spices. Rest of the day was just chillin’ at the beach, hanging out with some friends and enjoying a few drinks. I never ran into my friend Bob, I was hoping to arrange a cook up at his sister’s house before we leave on charter next month; she makes a huge pot of oil down out in the front yard. I’ll be arriving a couple days early so hopefully I’ll be able so see him in time to set it up when we arrive.
February 18 Sunday
Took the bus to the marina for breakfast then just hung out on the balcony catching up on some work before getting a taxi to the airport. Flight back on Jet Blue was uneventful, C&I at JFK no problem. All in all a short trip but a great break from work and winter.