Hello! We have been in Grenada since the 27th of June. Grenada is an island country consisting of Grenada itself and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. It is located northwest of Trinidad and Tobago, northeast of Venezuela, and southwest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Grenada is also known as the “Island of Spice” because of the production of nutmeg and mace crops of which it is one of the world’s largest exporters. With a tiny population of just 110,000, its capital, St. George’s, has a doll house feel to it…steep, cobbled streets run between old buildings with clay-shingled roofs and curly wrought iron gates. It certainly doesn’t feel like a nation’s capital. It feels a bit like a Disneyland theme-village.
In September 2004, after 49 years without a hurricane, the island was directly hit by Hurricane Ivan. Ivan damaged or destroyed 90% of the island’s homes. The agricultural industry, particularly the nutmeg industry, suffered serious losses, but the island has bounced back remarkably well, many of the old colonial buildings survived or have been repaired, and the nutmeg crops are making a comeback under new, better crop management.
It’s touristy, here. There are about 500 yachts in the various marinas, dozens of hotels on all the beaches, cruise ships herding lines of nervous holidaymakers, two-by-two, through the town streets, and a busy international airport that flies more tourists in daily.
People are friendly, yes, but a lot of them are just trying to sell you something, and the friendliness fades the minute you tell them you’re not interested in their key-chains or overpriced nutmegs. But one can hardly blame them, for what country can withstand the influx of thousands of American tourists without turning into a kitschy theme park of locals in silly costumes, and market stalls selling trinkets that were made in China? In a country as small as this, the economy subsists on tourism.
Still, this is reputedly the smallest, least touristy country in the Caribbean. Other islands…St. Lucia, St. Vincent, the British Virgin Islands, et cetera, are said to be much, much worse. Here, at least, you aren’t mobbed by aggressive vendors on the streets, and locals haven’t taken to visiting the yachts in the harbour to hustle and beg, yet. There are plans to expand Grenada’s marina and tourist facilities, so it won’t be too long before the island nation turns into another unbearable money-pit for holidaymakers.
Our guide books claim that Grenadians are the Caribbean’s friendliest people, but then our guide books are thirty years old, at least. I guess it’s all relative…coming from St. Vincent then, yes, I suppose Grenadians are friendly. Most people never go to Guyana, the least-known and least-visited country of the Caribbean.
I know one shouldn’t compare one Caribbean island with another, but I can’t help but miss Guyana intensely…where people were nice to us just because they are nice people…they haven’t been jaded by a tourist industry, yet, and so are genuinely curious about visitors. That kind of openness, simplicity, and genuine kindness, is something of a rarity in the Carib, I am learning.