Thursday, December 1, 2011

Feelin Atomic

“Fresh off the tree, a nutmeg is an absolutely gorgeous thing. Nature’s interpretation of a Faberge egg.”
From “An Embarrassment of Mangoes” by Ann Vanderhoof

I had read about the spice island of Grenada in “An Embarassment of Mangoes”, written by Torontonian Ann Vanderhoof. It was a popular book I recommended to family and friends before we took up this sailing life, and subsequently passed it along to Antares U* participants as they anticipated visiting Grenada. It is a wonderful account of sailing life and Grenada’s charms in particular. Salwa brought her copy from home and we were both delighted when we realized that the author is none other than the “Ann” I had met with Devi when we went to the market in Trinidad last week (see blog entry Nov. 27). Her boat Receta was just down the dock from us and Ann graciously signed Salwa’s copy. “I haven’t finished reading it so don’t tell me the ending,” Salwa joked. Ann laughed when she replied, “Since I’m here, I guess you can see we made it!” 

We were therefore excited about following Ann’s paths as we set sail for Grenada Monday at sunset. We heard all kinds of warnings of a strong current in a narrow passage aptly named Dragon’s Mouth just outside of Trinidad’s Chaguaramas harbour. This daunting force turned out to be more of an imp’s hiccough as we motor sailed right through without a stutter. We arrived in the luxurious Port Louis Marina in St. George’s, Grenada just after 09:00 Tuesday morning. Our overnight passage with short watches and good naps gave us a gorgeous sunrise and several squally storms that we watched from afar but managed to avoid.

Yesterday, Salwa, Jeff, Rob, Craig, and I set out for the 7-Sisters waterfalls in the south central part of the island. There is something about 7 and sisters. We have 7-Sisters mountain ranges all over British Columbia and Alberta. While I appreciate the splendor of mountain peaks and valleys, I prefer tropical waterfalls. There isn’t any snow. Our Antares crew had one day of sight-seeing before Antares-U and decided on a trip to these streaming siblings. It was a fine choice if one had only a day in Grenada. After a short ride on public transit (a 12-person van one waves down at the side of the road) we hiked for half an hour along a muddy clay jungled trail to a two-tiered water fall, the first two of the sisters. Swimming at the base of tropical waterfalls was something I had envisioned doing when we bought the boat and it has taken only a year to get here. It had become our Ithica. It was worth the wait and the glorious journey in-between. 

As most good destinations are, it was the getting there and coming home that were just as enchanting. The bus, driven by a former Indy 500 driver I’m sure, took us through winding jungled hills past villages of brightly painted concrete block bungalows clinging to steep road-side cliffs. It was best not to look down as we swerved precariously over the banks. We were dropped off at an unmarked path and told to walk, which as good Canadians we did. We came to a shack where we paid a few dollars to a friendly young woman and entered a plantation estate where we headed down a trail. We passed a Sorrel grove, infamous Granada nutmeg trees, pineapple plants, and rows of Callaloo, leafy greens used in popular southern Caribbean soups and stews. A Trini market vendor told me that when you eat Callaloo, you will always come back to Trinidad. I wondered if Grenada vegetables would cast the same spell.
The silky water cooled us off as we took turns trying to swim into the foaming base of the falls. Its 30 foot drop provided formidable spray and currents and we thrashed around enjoying the surges and flow.
We were delighted while waiting for the bus home late at the end of the day and a young cliff diver joined us, affirming the Grenadian enchantment Ann had written about. He was wearing a coveted spice necklace and explained each spice to us, as well as the ailments and conditions they could cure. With a huge smile, he finished his story by saying, “When I wear it, I put my head down every once in awhile to catch the aroma. It makes me feel atomic!” Just as Ann’s book did, our Atomic man challenged us to go slowly and find the good vibrations and sensations of Grenada. We continue our quest for more Atomic moments.
*Antares University is a two-day orientation to the Antares Catamaran provided by Antares Yachts for future and present owners. We hosted one last year in Buenos Aires and are delighted to do so again for the next four days here in Grenada. We know many of the participants and I learn more about our boat every time. I am a lifetime student.

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