St Kitts to Grenada – A blog in 5 parts! Part 4

The history of Grenada is interesting….

The island was discovered by Columbus on his 3rd voyage in 1498, who named it Concepcion.  Only later did the Spanish sailors give it the name it has today, because they likened it its green hills to those above Granada in Spain’s Andalusia.

The English and the French then fought it out for ownership of the island, and it was only in 1783 with the Treaty of Versailles that the island was definitively English.  With the abolition of slavery and the collapse of the great plantations, coconut, bananas and most intensively, nutmeg, were the principle crops, hence the name Spice Island by which it is often known.

In 1974 Grenada achieved independence.  In 1979 the Prime Minister was overthrown, and the new leader, Maurice Bishop, surrounded himself with Cuban advisors, who built the strategically important Salines airport.  This prompted the American’s to invade in 1983, throwing the Cubans out and a more conservative regime took over.  In 2004, hurricane Ivan struck devastating parts of the island’s infrastructure, ruining the economy and crops.  But since then a massive rebuilding programme has been undertaken and major improvements made.   Today, Grenadians are proud of their island and achievements.  We have found them all without exception welcoming and friendly.

Pipistrelle was lifted ashore on Monday morning at Spice Island Marine, where Junior (the owner), John and Frankie took excellent care of her, and she was “splashed” after 5 days with a gleaming hull, and beautifully painted bottom, which hopefully will repel the barnacles and weed for many months to come!  We retreated to an air conditioned apartment at Cool Runnings for the period, where we were made to feel very welcome, and were just a stone’s throw from the boat yard where we spent every day watching progress and doing other jobs.

Awaiting lift out – we did stow the dinghy!

Andrew and Annie (Bob’s son and his wife), arrived on the Thursday, and prudently spent their first night at a hotel where we joined them for dinner!   On Friday morning, as Pipistrelle was relaunched and as we attempted to get the boat reprovisioned and shipshape again (in a long-lasting Caribbean downpour), so they embarked amid chaos on board.   Thankfully, normality returned relatively quickly!

We had arranged on Saturday to be taken on an island tour by “Cateye”, who we met shortly after 0900, with him cleaning his Volkswagen taxi van, which is painted yellow.  Cateye’s uniform is a multicoloured wig, yellow jumpsuit, green tie and yellow and red banded socks.  Even his shoes are branded Cateye!  Incidentally, the bright yellow-green-red combination can be seen throughout Grenada in clothing, decoration and on street placards – the colours of the island!

Cateye and most of his crew!

The island tour was fascinating, and such a contrast to Bequia.  There are ruins left all over the island from Hurricane Ivan.  In many cases the bathroom was the strongest part of the house, and the toilet can be seen sitting incongruously on a platform 12 feet above ground level!  Even some Government buildings have been left in a ruined state, but most other houses, hotels and shops have been rebuilt.

St George’s

After a visit around St George’s, the capital, and a stop at the market, we then went into the interior, and had a very enjoyable hike and refreshing swim beneath the Seven Sisters mountain waterfalls.

Fresh water falls

Lunch outside Grenville, with traditional Grenadian food was very tasty and afterwards we were taken to the old airport on the east coast, where the carcasses of a Cuban airliner and a Russian Ilyushin lie rotting.   Finally we made our way back down the east and south coast stopping at idyllic sandy bays, and being driven around very select residential developments on south coast promontories, before arriving back at Spice Island Marine.

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