|Friday, March 18, 2011
Spices greet us at the spice growing island of George’s Granada, the principal spice-growing island in the western hemisphere, producing one fifth of the world’s supply of nutmeg, as well as cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, saffron and mace. We arrive on reclaimed land that makes up the pier and esplanade built ten years ago.
We drive in two mini-vans as our driver/guide points out points of interest along the way, like when passing the cemetery, “We are now in the dead center of St. George”. There are nine black sand beaches on the island that is volcanic. We pass a quarry that uses the volcanic material to make concrete. The population is predominantly Catholic, because of original Spanish influence, but churches of all denominations are on the island.
We drive up a very steep and curvy hill to Fort Fredrick that is mostly a shell with a few cannons but with a spectacular view of the beautiful port, acclaimed to be the world’s most picturesque.
“Alice In Wonderland” is the guide at the fort and points out significant buildings down below.
She speaks loud and clear that most of us do not need to use our receivers. She points out the prison with only 300 inmates from a population of 100,000. Crime is dealt with very seriously, and life without parole, means just that. Prisoners escaped when the prison was destroyed in the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005, but the prisoners were back in confinement soon after. Alice lost her home and all her possessions when the 160 mph winds swept through; but she and her six children escaped with no harm.. She says that the correct pronunciation of Grenada is Green ay’da because of the lush green growth. That proved to be an Alice in Wonderland story because a guidebook says that Spanish sailors named it after their native Grenada. There is so much lush green because it has been raining more than usual lately, as we have noticed in the other islands.
We next drove to De La Grenada Industries where nutmeg is processed into syrups, jams, and a liqueur. The current proprietor told us that the company was started by her mother, a home economics teacher, who experimented with different recipes.
She served her liqueur to a British couple who suggested that she market it; they provided the first labels. The project grew until now it employs 17 workers and gets its nutmeg from three neighboring plantations.
We sampled the liqueur and tiny pancakes topped with nutmeg syrup while browsing the little shop with their products. A guide led us through an adjoining garden with a number of trees bearing different spices: nutmeg,cocoa,black sage, bay leaves, cloves and vanilla.
Then it was Laura Herb and Spice Garden that was one of the most educational stops we’ve had. An exceptional guide told us about many of the well-marked plants in the vast garden. She told of their culinary, therapeutic, and medicinal uses. I wish that I could remember just a few of the uses she described.
Our last stop was to a rum bottling plant. The site was a former rum processing plant with the remnants of the machinery to make rum from start to finish. Sugar cane is not cultivated as it had been years ago. Now the alcohol is imported and blended to make the rum. We got to a sampling station where our guide told of the attributes of each of the five bottles, one receiving an award. A little is all you needed to get warm all over in the 90° heat.
We drove back along the beautiful coast in sight of an island in store for a five-star hotel; a bridge from the mainland is already in place. Tourism is the main industry in Grenada, but there is a lot of competition as we have seen from islands that we recently visited.