|Country Information & Lifestyle|
Rhythm of Spice in the Caribbean
Grenada is known as "The Spice of the Caribbean" and visitors will be enticed by the sweet scents of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla wafting on the balmy breeze. In fact there are more spices in Grenada per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Nutmeg is the most abundant spice and Grenada produces about a third of the world's supply.
This small nation consists of three islands: Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique. The three islands are located in the eastern Caribbean at the southern extremity of the Windward Islands, only 100 miles north of Venezuela and the Grenadines, to the south Trinidad and Tobago.
Tempered by the steady and cooling trade winds the temperature ranges from 75F to 85F, depending on the season. The lowest temperatures occur between November and February. Because of Grenada's remarkable topography, the island also experiences climate changes according to altitude. The driest season is between January and May. Even during the rainy season, from June to December, it rarely rains for more than an hour at a time and generally not every day.
Like many islands in the Caribbean Grenada was not so much discovered by Columbus as it was sighted by him on his third voyage to the New World in 1498 when he passed by and named the islands Conception. In 1609 the British tried to establish a toehold, but because the island was inhabited by the cannibalistic Carib Indians, they were chased off.
The French came ashore in 1650 and tried to bribe the islanders with baubles and booze but this did not have a lasting effect, and the French found themselves battling with the Indians for control of the island. The final clash took place in 1651 where the Caribs, rather than submit to the Europeans, threw themselves over the edge of the cliffs to the rocks below.
The national dish of Grenada is Oil Down, a combination of breadfruit, coconut milk, turmeric, dumplings, taro leaves and a salted meat or fish such as smoked herring. It is often cooked in a large pot called a karhee. Popular street foods include aloo pie, dal puri serve wrapped around curry, bakes and fish cakes. Sweets to try are guava cheese, fudge or balls, rum and raisin ice cream and currant rolls.
Grenada is a rolling, mountainous island, covered with fragrant spice trees and rare tropical flowers. Bordered by stunning beaches, and dotted with picturesque towns, this verdant island has long been a major source of nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and cocoa. In the interior of this volcanic island are cascading rivers and waterfalls, lush rain forests, and one of the most breathtakingly beautiful mountain lakes imaginable.
The capital St Georges is known as one of the most picturesque harbor settings in the Caribbean. The horseshoe shaped harbor, surrounded by pastel rainbow of dock warehouses, old forts and the red tiled roofs of traditional shops and colonial buildings. The centuries old spice plantations and rum distilleries still use traditional methods, emphasizing quality not quantity.
Carraicou is the largest of the Grenadines, a necklace of island gems scattered between St. Vincent and Grenada. Carriacou is about 7 miles in length and averages 2 miles across and is 23 km from Grenada. A hilly island but not mountainous it possess fine sand beaches, natural harbors, embraced by turquoise blue water.
While in Carriacou you can choose to explore, snorkel, swim, dive or simply stroll, whatever you do you will experience the special lure of this gem and its islets. The island is only 20 minutes by air and 1 hr & 40 minutes a beautiful coastal ferry ride from St.George's Grenada. Coral reefs surround the island providing a base for beautiful sandy beaches.
Slavery brought the drums across the Atlantic to Carriacou. Resistance to oppression created the rhythm. Today decades later the sound still resonates at traditional festivals. Evidence of Carriacou's cultural history has been discovered from pottery shards and ancient tools found around the island. Around 1000 A.D. peaceful Arawaks lived here, followed by fierce Caribes, both coming from South America.
Plantations in Carriacou yielded mainly cotton, some sugar, indigo, coffee, limes and cocoa but now only a few farmers grow small crops for their own consumption. Carriacouans are renowned for their sea faring skills and many locally made vessels are still in use today from small fishing sloops to large trading schooners. Carriacou is known as the Land of Reefs, and is rich in tradition, with many unique customs handed down from African and European ancestors.
Traditional weddings, traditional boat launching, tombstone feat, saraca Libation, Big Drum Nation Dancing, Village Maroons, Shakespeare Mass, All Saint Candle Lighting, "Pass Play", Cemetery Cleaning and Fishermen Birthday Celebrations are just some of the customs.
It is possible to witness a Wedding Dance, where on the day of the wedding friends and family gather outside the houses of both the bride and groom, and with music playing dance their way to a central spot. Tradition dictates the dancing of the flags and then of the cake before all can retire home to prepare for the official church service.
Three miles east of Carriacou lays Petite Martinique, the smallest in the nation and one of the smallest inhabited island in the Windward Islands. Petite Martinique is volcanic in origin, having a cone shape, with the highest hill the Piton rising to 756 feet above sea level.
The Caribbean Sea laps the shores on the western side of the island and the dramatic Atlantic swells break on the eastern coast. The main beach located on the western side of the island contains two docks and the only way to reach the island is by boat.
Unspoiled and undiscovered are two words best suited for the description of this lovely little island which is only now being developed for visitors. Being the smallest of the tri-island state, Petite Martinique contains a population of only 900 people. Most of the inhabitants are of both African and European descent, blending together a rich African culture with European skills to make a strong knitted community, a community that looks after each other, growing together as one people, continually passing on their skills and culture to their children allowing it to "stay alive".
The people of the island of Petite Martinique are of a fishing community that sells its fish to mainland Grenada and also to the French island of Martinique. The large fishing boats fish for tuna and sell it to Grenada and from there it is then shipped to the U.S.A., while the smaller fishing boats fish for snapper, grouper and other small fish that would be on their list. These are brought to Martinique where they are collected by fishing agents and then sold to restaurants on the island. A high demand market that the people of Petite Martinique hopes will never die.
Sugarloaf is a little island about thirty minutes to the north of Grenada. It is really easy to get there, anyone of the local fishermen who owns a boat will take you. The island has sheep and goats that are in abundance and run wild. Spend a really relaxing day and you will feel like you are the only person in the universe.
The laid back pace of Carriacou & Petite Martinique combined with the beautiful scenery creates just the right recipe for your relaxed holiday. While you won't find 5-star hotels or all inclusive resorts on Carriacou and Petite Martinique, your stresses will be soothed away by our small island appeal putting a smile back on your face.