It has been a strange week here in Grenada as we anticipated and then watched the dreadful destruction wreaked by hurricane Irma. We were lucky to be able to sail south earlier in the year to position ourselves out of the main hurricane belt for the summer season, but this was a luxury many, many people simply did not have. The loss of life, homes and yachts has been unbelievable and very upsetting to watch. With so many countries impacted it is difficult to decide which relief schemes to support as we fondly remember our wonderful experiences in the BVIs, Anguilla, St Martin/Marteen, St Barts, Barbuda and many others. Whilst Barbuda has been all but destroyed, we were pleased to see and hear that Antigua did not suffer extensive damage and are looking forward to returning at the end of October. We have family and friends visiting us there over the coming months and hopefully we can all provide a little support to the delightful nation of Antigua and Barbuda.
Whilst feeling very sad about what was happening elsewhere in the Caribbean, America and Mexico (hurricane Katia adding insult to injury as they were reeling from the terrible earthquake), life has to go on here in Grenada and we certainly had a busy and varied weekend.
We started off our weekend with the Mount Airy Young Readers group and had a fun few hours with the local children, helping them read out loud, do some spellings and sums, and play a few games. The very lovely founder set up the scheme a few years ago and has seen the number of children attending each week grow year on year. She and her husband have generously converted their garage into a 'classroom' full of wonderful books and games. She encourages yacht cruisers like ourselves to come along and help out with the children and we were delighted to be able to join in. Prayers were said for those suffering from the impact of hurricane Irma (Grenada was devastated by hurricane Ivan in 2004 so locals are very able to empathise) and we even sang the Grenadian National Anthem. The children were lively and polite and happily set off home again after their busy morning, rounded off with drinks and snacks. We are looking forward to getting to know the children better over the coming weeks and of course to more singing, reading and games !!
After a quick change of clothes back at the yacht we headed back out to join the weekly “hash.” This is a run or hike through the local countryside following trails of paper and this weeks course proved to be an extremely steep route around Mount Parnassus. I am not sure if we hiked as much as we did climb and abseil around the course, making liberal use of the local trees and vines to aid our passage. The occasional loud 'crack' of a tree put everyone on alert for a human domino style cascade down the hills, but we all emerged relatively unscathed by the end of the hash. My trousers did not fare so well and I am forever grateful to the 'gentleman' who took a photo of my slightly exposed bottom descending down a tree – not !! We returned to the local shack for beers, a helping of oil down (local dish of vegetables or meat and vegetables, slowly cooked in coconut and spices) and the hash ceremonies. This mainly involves treating first timers to a beer shower, inviting those with brand new shoes to drink beer out of them, celebrating birthdays with yet more beer showers – you get the idea – it mainly involves beer. The motto of the worldwide Hash House Harriers is “drinkers with a running problem” after all. After our refreshments and a little boogie to the pumping soca music, we loaded back into the mini bus for our trip home with a little detour to one of the local rum shacks.
Instead of treating our weary bodies to a relaxing Sunday morning, we decided to take an early dinghy trip out to a nearby reef for a swim and snorkel. It was surprising how much coral there was in an area frequented by so many yachts and it is always fun to see the colourful Caribbean fish darting around. Sunday afternoon usual means Grenadian Train Dominoes and this weekend was no exception. We joined the play at the Tiki Bar in Prickly Bay and had the usual mixed fortunes. How can I go from being the winner at half time on my first table to being the loser at the end of the match on my second table ?!! Luckily we don't take it too seriously and had another fun afternoon with our fellow domino 'funsters.' Sunday at the Tiki Bar features a traditional Sunday roast dinner and whilst I left Steve to tackle the roast beef, roast potatoes and vegetables on his own, I couldn't resist the Yorkshire puddings. There were wonderful and a real reminder to Sunday lunches back in the UK. How lucky are we to be able to eat a Grenadian speciality one day and a British speciality the next ?
We rounded off our busy and sociable weekend with drinks back on board Wanderlust with fellow cruisers, comparing sailing stories of course, but also discussing the terrible events of the week. A sobering reminder (despite a glass of wine in hand) of how life on board can be at the mercies of the weather and how fortunate we had been not to be in Irma's path. We love the Caribbean and know that the wonderful people who live here will restore the islands to their former beauty, supported by people from around the world. However, having visited the islands of Vanuatu in the South Pacific after Cyclone Pam we know this may take some time and our thoughts are with everyone who has suffered during this catastrophic event. The friendly Grenadians often greet us with 'blessings' or 'have a blessed day' and we have certainly been counting our blessings this week.
I posted this blog a little after I had written it and we are again counting our blessings and thinking of those currently being affected by hurricane Maria. Enough now with the hurricane season x