Copyright by Wheel Me On... 2010
The Spice Isle
From the cruise ship, at a distance I could see what appeared to be a fort embedded in the side of a hill near the top of this volcanic island and a building on the right near the terminal with letters plainly spelling, "Welcome to Grenada", as the bow of the vessel approached the side of the pier to dock.
I slowly used the zoom lens of the camera, spying several canons aimed to the direction of the sea and silently hoped for a closer look once on land.
The green and white building with what appeared to be a red brick roof was indeed the terminal and once on shore, traditional island music with steel drums reached out to my heart, beckoning me to explore their lifestyles, heritage and more.
Greeted by Sun Tours Inc., the tour Operations Manager, Nikita Steele, and tour guide and narrator, Ladonna Lois Paredes, the cruise ship tour coordinator silently stood nearby as the three of us exchanged gifts from our respective countries.
A few minutes later, I met the professional driver, Clement Charles, who promised an interesting and exiting journey in a new van after Clement transferred me to a rear seat next to a window where I would clearly see everything within sight. Without further delay, we were traveling past a large fish market and sights along the west shoreline before heading away from the coast.
Left Photo: Ladonna Lois Paredes, tour guide and narrator, stands next to vehicle; Middle Photo: Ladonna Lois Paredes with Tour Operations Manager, Nikita Steele, and Julia Hollenbeck. Right Photo: Clement Charles, a professional island driver standing next to the tour vehicle waiting to transfer Hollenbeck inside the vehicle.
The venture on this volcanic island became an education with many sights unfolding along the way while traveling on River Road, quickly passing buildings and other sights, amid winding and bending roads, as we headed near the top of this mountain for our first stop. Gravel pits lined parts of the road in-between green foliage, residences, and at least two hundred seventy different types of tropical flowers. The island of Grenada was only twenty-one by twelve miles in size.
Left Photo: Flowers of Angle Trumpets hang from branches next to the path; Middle Photo: Path leading to waterfall; Right Photo: Pinkish and red colored Haliconias snug together in their foliage.
Our first stop led me down a narrow paved walkway and deep into the setting of Annandale Waterfalls, with my tour guide stopping at several points to show me the beautiful island flowers while our professional driver had now become my "professional pusher" for the manual wheelchair. Among the plants were Heliconias, numerous blooming ginger, an assortment of ferns and many plants used for cooking in meals.
We stopped for a few moments so Ladonna could show me a pea pod, hidden between leaves, (Left Photo) while below us I could hear islander' voices beckoning to one another, laughing and joyful, and clearly the sound of a waterfall. Once again, Ladonna quickly moved off the path to reach for a beautiful red Anthurium (Photo on Right) hidden among its leaves for a quick click of the shutter on the camera.
Once at the bottom of this forest, it was awesome to see the beautiful waterfall and exciting to watch islanders climb the volcanic rocks and then jump into the pool of water below. The sight was truly awesome and in my bag of tricks, very remindful of my younger years of living on a tropical island.
The Annandale Waterfall; Photo courtesy of Ladonna Lois Paredes
Grand Etang Lake and Nature Park
Welcomed by local musicians, a small roll of souvenir shops lined a side of the road amid beautifully landscaped acreage with countless flowers blooming throughout the area. I followed Ladonna up a hill to an area where she showed me more varieties of flowers with an interesting view of the scene below while the musician's music could still be clearly heard and more tourists arrived.
A stop near the plantation home brought beginnings from years past leading to knowledge for the future; the history inside no doubt remarkable, and from the outside the building beautiful with light green painting highlighting steps and trim on this large white house once used by owners of the plantation. Today, it serves as a museum welcoming walking visitors inside to learn about the history of this land.
During my tour of Grand Etang Lake and Nature Park, it was not long before seeing the bottomless lake of a volcanic creator and realizing I was literally situated on a side crater of the top of a volcano. The crater of which was continuously filled with rain water forming a very large lake; the water pumped to local residents for their use during the dry season, the depth of this lake has never been determined and the scenic view was absolutely breathtaking.
Returning to an area closer to the crater of the volcano, we could clearly see the roofs of vehicles traveling on the road below the hill to visit this extraordinary site. Old cement barricades close-by, were reminders of the steep hill we were situated on, and a warning not to venture too far below. The crater appeared much smaller than what it actually was and the lake within its boundaries stretched further than what I could see.
Laura's Herb and Spice Garden
Our next stop was within another beautiful tranquil setting amid the scent of spices and a path made out of nutmeg shells, which of course would not allow wheels to travel upon. I watched Ladonna quickly dart along the path to retrieve several snipping's of spice plant varieties, while listening to the crush of her feet hitting the shells and soon after, listened intently while she explained the snipping of spice she gathered to share with me.
Cinnamon, Spanish thyme, mint leaves, big thyme, rosemary, and lemon grass. All of these spices are used for seasoning as well as for health or other medical treatments. Grenada is the second highest exporter of cocoa with their locally grown Cocoa trees that give birth to the cocoa pod containing a number of seeds. The seeds go through a long process; ultimately, the cocoa ball offers pure cocoa without additives. And you can add nutmeg, a main spice of Grenada and one that is used for a multitude of things besides cooking. In fact, the entire nutmeg shell and seed are used for a variety of things.
More than seven grams of nutmeg can be poisonous to a human, so this is a spice that is used very carefully, but the longevity of nutmeg can last as long as six to seven years, as long as it is stored in a cool place. Nutmeg is the main export of Grenada. There is also allspice, used for cooking and seasoning; the tree itself is strong, branches are made into beautiful walking canes or sticks. Unbeknown to me, the Allspice tree is family to the Guava tree, which was later spotted along another road and our driver willingly stopped to pick me a couple of delicious guavas. Bay Leaf and Gloves are also grown on the Spice Isle and there are undoubtedly a multitude of other spices I fail to mention, but learning the correct color of Cinnamon when it is fresh gave me knowledge of what to look for when shopping.
After leaving this unique plantation, we drove back toward the port and along the way, passing multiple banana plantations gave only a small glimpse of three different varieties; several trees with young bananas protected inside clear plastic bags, marked with a colored tape and possibly ready for shipping. Three traditional crops from Grenada export bananas, cocoa, and nutmeg, but there are many other spices grown on the island as well as a multitude of different fruit.
Located on the southwestern coast of Richmond Hill in Saint George allowed a vantage point to see Fort Fredericks and the cruise ship I traveled to this island docked along its pier. Descriptions provided by Ladonna of surrounding buildings and areas were extremely interesting. Indeed, this was the same fort I had first seen from the cruise ship!
Fort Fredericks is one of three forts on Grenada and one of the other two can be clearly seen from Fort Fredericks. After the French secured Grenada from the British in 1779, Fort Fredericks was built, brick by brick and stone by stone.
Just before and to the right side of the fort was a souvenir shop, gallantly displaying island treasures made by the islanders. From where we were located, the entire west side of the island was seen and Ladonna patiently described many of the buildings and areas below Fort Fredericks while I intently listened and learned more about Grenada.
Scarlet blossoms of Flamboyant trees were still in bloom during my visit in October 2009, flowering high above, offering a splendid view of the landscape leading to the ocean below.
The sun began to fall into the horizon while the moon appeared from the other side of the hill in the sky. Ultimately, I would soon return to the cruise ship.
Passing local vendors and shops along the way, darkness began falling rapidly and vehicle headlights were soon turned on.
Satisfied, I knew the secret to the islands' knick name and why she became known as "The Spice Isle", but I also learned the people of Grenada bottled Coca Cola and had many other things to offer besides their beautiful beaches along the shoreline.
When approaching the cruise ship, she appeared in full dress with her lights brilliantly shinning in the dark. Silhouettes of passengers loaned an interesting sight as the sun slipped behind the sea; someone stopped my wheelchair and took a picture, then hurriedly pushed me along the pier to reboard the vessel.
For More Information Contact
Fun Sun Inc
Renwick Thompson Building
The Carneage, Post Office Box 188
Saint George, Grenada, WI
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