There’s a small hill at the entrance to the port, called Port St. Louis, next to our open anchorage. We climbed it last Saturday, and I took a few snaps. There are a couple of lookout points, and the place is also known, in our old maps, as “Ballast Grounds”.
Gorgeous weather, for a change (it rains every day, but lately just in the afternoons).
Our boat (top, right) on anchor below the hill. The photo doesn’t do the water justice…it’s the most amazing, limpid aquamarine colour, coral reefs and turtles perfectly visible through the crystal clear water.
This huge tree at the bottom of the hill caught our eye…Kris loves massive trees. He’s completely dwarfed in this photo…I feel a mischievous urge to give him a pair of fairy wings in this photo. 😉
Our 1970s guide books to Grenada show the location of St. George’s Botanical Gardens, though no mention is made of these gardens on the current tourist maps of the town.
Wondering how much of the gardens had survived the 2004 hurricane that knocked 90% of Grenada flat, Kris and I went looking for them using the old maps. We found their remains inside of the recently built Ministerial Complex…demoted to a “Visitor’s Park”, probably a third of its original size (damaged by the storm, or leveled to make space for the government buildings within the complex).
What remained was unmistakeable, though: Single specimens of large and spectacular trees, palms, and shrubs bearing strange flowers or fruit.
We also came across a frangipani tree that was being devoured as we watched by two dozen of the biggest caterpillars we have ever seen in our lives. Seriously, these things were 7 inches long, 3/4 of an inch thick, and conspicuously marked. A mango vendor saw us marveling, came over, and explained to us that local people treat these caterpillars like pets (as he said this, he stroked the smooth, silky back of one caterpillar, and it happily let him do it) and that they become beautiful butterflies. I wonder if they’re big butterflies…
We only found one clue that these grounds were, indeed, the once-fabled botanical gardens of Grenada…the petrol station across the road was called “Botanical Gardens Service Station”.
One of the things we’d hoped to find was a Manchineel tree…in Spanish the tree is known as manzanilla de la muerte (little apples of death), an extremely poisonous tree that used to grow everywhere on the beaches around here, but is now endangered (systematically destroyed by people, because its bark, leaves, and fruit are all extremely poisonous. Of course, in a country that gets plenty of blasé and benighted tourists, it’s not surprising that the trees have been eradicated to protect the goose that lays the golden eggs. 😉
It’s childish and naive, but I keep coming back to this sort of image: a lush and stylised garden—as from a Persian or Moghul court miniature—with an ornately decorated building topped by a minaret in it. It was this children’s book, illustrated by Ed Young, that got to me at the tender and impressionable age of 6 or so. I have been wistfully recreating that garden scene ever since…
Here, for example,
I love Islamic patterns and art. Always have. The genius of their craftsmen and artists.