Rian (Ryan) ask me at dinner,”What have you most enjoyed about Grenada”. Rian was our new found friend and taxi driver. He has traveled most of the Caribbean islands. This is a little unusual for a local. Most of the local people we meet have not traveled extensively to other islands. They may have family on another island and move for a job but for the most part islanders tend to stay put. Rian has a long distance relationship with a young lady in California. She plans to move to Grenada. She gives him a hard time if he listens to Barbara Streisand in his taxi, because Barbara is a Democrat and she doesn’t like Democrats. I had to laugh about this. American politics has crept all the way into a Grenadian relationship. Rian has a hard time understanding why someone would not like another because of political beliefs. I asked Rian if he liked California. He didn’t much care for it because it is too big and there are too many people to get to know.
Getting to know people is an important part of Grenadian culture. They are friendly people who laugh easily. There are about 110,000 people who reside full-time on Grenada. It is a small town atmosphere but on a tropical island about the size of the city of Detroit. It is not unusual when riding the bus for the driver to stop and chat to a friend for a couple of minutes. We notice people stopping what they are doing to chat with a friend quite often. I think it is nice people take a couple of minutes to say hello. Grenadians have a lot of friendships. I can’t help of being reminded about a Charles Darwin quote, “A man’s friendships are one of the best measures of his worth.”
We had some metal work done on the boat while we were here. Sandra and her sons run a family owned business. Her son Warren was working on our part and had a couple of questions. Sandra called and said she was in the area and wanted to know if she could pick us up and take us to the shop so we could speak with Warren. She picked us up at the marina and off we went. Well, not right away. We got chatting and Sandra felt like taking a short break from the office. She drove us on a little tour of the island for about an hour. Keep in mind this island is not that big. An hour covers a lot of ground. We enjoyed some of her favorite vistas and cherished hearing about her life and raising her sons. When we reached their shop, we met the dogs and the cats. We also found out this is a place where people go to grind spices they have grown. Imagine a metal shop that smells like cinnamon and nutmeg. I swear, nowhere else on earth would you find this.
Larry is a person we hired to do some upholstery work for us. We recovered our saloon cushions and asked him to make new cockpit cushions. We picked out some samples as Larry measured. We chatted the entire time. Larry told us about the hardship the islanders endured after hurricane Ivan. The hardships made the Grenadian’s bond even closer. The stories we heard made us understand how life on an island is so very different than the mainland. Nobody had electricity for about 3 months. People had to go to the rivers to bath. Rich and poor came together to help each other. A few days later we received Larry’s estimate and decided to hire him. He asked for a down payment to cover the cost of the fabric. We agreed he would come out the next day to collect it. Most of the Grenada economy is in cash. We spend a lot of time at the ATM. The use of a credit card means a 5% premium added to the bill. We thought Larry would come to the boat and get the cash and we expected him to be gone in a few minutes. Two hours later, we are still chatting with Larry about life in general. He asked if we would like to see his shop and meet his family.
If I take the trash out, I could be gone for a while. Cindy doesn’t worry anymore. She is used to it. We have made friends with most of the staff about the marina. It would be rude to not stop and chat for a couple of minutes. Cindy hurt her ankle and had to use a cane for a couple of weeks. When I walked down the dock, everyone asked if she was okay and did we need anything. This was not the shallow inquiry usually made. They really meant it. When they saw Cindy, she had to tell her story about 20 times about how she hurt herself.
So, when I answered Rian’s question about what we have enjoyed most about Grenada, he beamed. It was a very easy question to answer. We could have said the lush greenery, the bright colors, the flowers that seem to grow just about everywhere. Or, the fresh fruit that can be picked off roadside trees. I swear, I never knew bananas could taste so good. We could have said the mountains and views that present themselves at every turn in the road. I briefly thought about the locally made delicious chocolates, rums with the potency of rocket fuel and feeding monkeys. But, I answered with just one word. The word that made Rian smile: People.
To the people of Grenada,
Thank you so very much for making us welcome. We love your island. It is truly a paradise. Thank you for making us feel like we were a part of your home. If our travels allow, we would love to return one day. In the mean time, we will always look fondly back on our visit here and feel a tug on the heart strings as we think about you.
Mark and Cindy