One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.Bob Marley.
The ground crew at Maurice Bishop International Airport underestimated my resolve when it came to saving money on airport transfers. It’s the first international airport I have ever arrived at where there is no ATM and no Bureau de change. I desperately needed to change my Barbados dollars (BBD) into Eastern Caribbean dollars (ECD), or get some cash. It proved challenging.
Explaining my predicament, to whoever would listen, and a surprising number of people did, I was told, on countless occasions, that it would be best to take a taxi and that the driver would be “happy to accept my Barbados dollars”. I’m sure he would, I muttered under my breath. The taxi: £25.00, the bus: £3.00. I was not going to give in. Finally, I spoke to a cleaning lady who pointed to a shop and explained that “Joy usually exchanges BBD for ECD”. Twenty minutes later I was getting off the local bus, a two minute walk from my guest house. Result.
History lesson: In 1498 Christopher Columbus became the first European to sight the island of Grenada. It wasn’t until 1609, however, that English tobacco planters attempted to settle; within a year, most were killed by the Caribs. Some 40 years later, the French ‘purchased’ the island from the Caribs at a pittance. Grenada remained under French control until 1762, when Britain first captured the island. Over the next two decades, colonial control shifted back and forth between Britain and France. In 1877 Grenada became a Crown colony, and in 1967 it converted to an associated state within the British Commonwealth.
According to my guide book, “St George’s is one of the most picturesque towns in the Caribbean”. I really cannot disagree, it’s a fabulous place to explore, with lots of handsome old buildings, and of course the Carenage harbour. Interesting shops and cafes dot the narrow and busy streets. Sites of interest include: Fort Frederick, Fort George, St George’s Anglican Church, the market square, and the Carenage.
Located virtually in the centre of the country, Grand Etang National Park is a natural wonderland of misty landscapes centred around a lovely lake. There are many hiking trails within the park. In addition, a number of beautiful waterfalls can be accessed near by.
Gouyave, roughly halfway up the west coast from St George’s, is an attractive fishing village. It’s also home to the Nutmeg Processing Cooperative, which I visited. Also nearby, 10 minutes by bus, is the nutmeg museum.
Grenada summary; the things that stood out for me, when compared to Barbados, less developed and with slightly fewer international visitors. Slightly cheaper. In addition, Grenada has some of the best scuba diving that I have ever experienced – with pristine coral reefs and a plethora of fish.
Backpacking possibility rating: quite possible. Finding cheap accommodation is relatively easy – with prior preparation. Eating out is expensive. Beer cheap, wine expensive. Supermarket food on par with UK prices. Self catering facilities help keep the costs down. Local transportation and museums are very cheap. Country score: 8 out of 10. Less touristy than Barbados and a great country to visit. Hassle factor, very low – most people are very friendly.
Next stage: St Vincent & the Grenadines.