S/V Delilah

A Blog to track the wanderings of the S/V Delilah, a 37-foot Tayana sailboat.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Saturday, July 1
The Lagoon, St. George, Grenada

I spent most of yesterday standing in the rain in the cockpit, fussing with the hose and bottles and cloth that make up our system for catching water. All told, we got 15 gallons in jerry jugs, and we think the water is clean enough for cooking and drinking. Another three or four gallons collected in buckets have been diverted for shower and laundry use.

But the big report for this week comes from Tuesday and Wednesday, two days we spent doing some sightseeing.

Tuesday we, along with Kim and David from Amanzi and Michele from Crossroads, attempted to make our way to the main bus terminal in town, stopping in at the tourist bureau to pick up maps and to say hello to a local man that Kim and David met in Antigua during race week. As Michele, Kim, and David all work in education, we were invited to join a seminar that had just started, featuring a local sociologist who was talking about the culture and traditions of Grenada. What a treat! The seminar was part of an educational series for tour guides and taxi drivers, so we were the only tourists present. The sociologist, who has lived in Grenada for most of her life, was an engaging presenter and well-versed oral historian, not afraid to stand up and demonstrate a traditional dance move or to sing a song she had learned as a child. She told such great stories about the Grenadian carnival, held in August, that we are thinking of sailing back up from Trinidad for it.

The seminar took up the rest of our morning, so we never made it to the bus for the chocolate factory. Instead, we walked around the town of St. George, a small city built up on a hill surrounding a deepwater port. The port looks very much like many European seaside towns, with narrow, steep streets, lots of commercial activity, and old stone buildings topped with beautiful red tile roofs. Though an estimated 90 percent of the houses in Grenada lost their roofs or worse as a result of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, recovery has been swift, and only occasional buildings in the town await rebuilding or demolition.

Wednesday I left Dean behind on Delilah and joined some other cruisers on a tour of Grenada. Though the group was a bit big for my liking (24 people) it gave me a chance to see quite a bit of the island in one day. The bus we took seemed improbably large for these narrow, twisting mountain roads, but our convivial bus driver handled them expertly, keeping his wheels only inches from the steep drainage ditch on one side and the stream of speeding cars beside a sheer drop to the ocean on the other. There are no highways on Grenada, no stop signs that I observed, and only a few traffic lights or rotaries. The roads are just wide enough for two cars to pass each other with inches to spare. If we throw a bus into the mix, or better still, a bus and a truck going opposite directions, one vehicle has to find a place to pull over--fast. The decisions regarding who will pull over, when to pass, when to yield, and when to slow down and hug the curb when rounding yet another blind curve are all communicated by horn.

One of my favorite stops on the tour was the Grenada Chocolate Company, which uses solar power and antique machinery to make its organic chocolate and cocoa. The chocolate bars were wrapped individually and by hand, sealed with a plain old glue stick. Some of the machines looked straight out of "Willy Wonka." Yes, I had samples. Yes, I bought chocolate. Even the very dark and bitter chocolate was delicious.

We also visited the River Antoine rum distillery. The distillery, which grows and crushes its own sugarcane, makes very small batches of very strong (138 and 150 proof) organic rum for local consumption only. The distillery has been around for about two hundred years, and its methods and machinery have not changed much since the company opened, nor have the cobwebs. The machine that crushes sugarcane is still powered by a waterwheel, and the stills are heated by wood fires. The rum itself has only two ingredients: sugarcane and water. The place was amazing, but it would be shut down in a heartbeat in the States, as sanitation procedures were nonexistent. For example, we played with a few newborn puppies in the straw right next to open vats of crushed cane juice, and the crumbling cement building where the the juice was first processed hadn't seen a fresh coat of paint ever. The stills themselves were under tin roofs but otherwise open to the air.

At the end of the tour, we could taste both the 69 percent and 75 percent alcohol rums. I tried a very small sample of the stronger one, and was very glad that I had a big cup of water in my hand to wash town the tiny sip I took. I did not buy any rum, as I would like to keep the lining of my stomach intact for the time being.

We also stopped at a nutmeg cooperative, where local farmers deliver their crops to be cleaned, sorted, dried, packed, and shipped all over the world. Again, most of the work in the coop was done by hand in a beautiful stone building that would fetch a hefty price as loft space in the Leather District these days. Grenada is the second largest supplier of nutmeg in the world, supplying one-third of the world's supply of nutmeg. But all this will likely change for the next few years, as most of the nutmeg trees were destroyed by Ivan. It will take a few more years for the new plantings to mature enough for harvesting.


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