December 11 Thursday
Prickly Bay, Grenada
Today we went on an island tour with Cutty, our tour guide. He knows everything there is to know about the spices and things that grow on Grenada. Lorraine and I met in the Prickly Bay Marina parking lot at 9am with our fellow cruising friends Rick the planner, Peggy his wife, niece Kathy, and Tony and Robyn on SV Alley Cat Too. We followed the road driving up the west coast around the top of the island then down the east coast to Grenville cutting across the center of the island and back to St. George. The first part of the trip was along the west coast of the island with views of St George and other towns.
We were on our way to the nutmeg co-operative sorting building. Along the way Cutty stopped at various places, got out and picked some fruit off a convenient tree or picked it up off the ground along the road. There were untold fruit trees along the way, avocado, noni, mandarin oranges, grapefruit, star fruit, nutmeg, bananas, plantains, cocoa, coconuts. He said there is always something in season to eat.
Once we got to the nutmeg factory north of Gouyave, a tour guide took us through the process. First we went upstairs to see the drying racks, then the machine that breaks off the shells. Then downstairs to see the women separate the shell from the nutmeg; And finally to the grading area. The function of this processing facility is to produce bags of nutmeg nuts that are all the same size and quality. The only machine in the process is one that crushes the outer shell. The only men there handled the heavy bags of nutmeg, some weighing up to 140 pounds. From this point to the end all subsequent tasks are manual ones performed by the women working there. I got nutmeg jelly and guava jam and many whole nutmegs. The nutmeg in the shell lasts for 10 years and once shelled lasts 3 years. The best flavor is to grate it as you need it.
Next on our tour was a visit to a Grenada Cocoa Farmers chocolate factory in Victoria. Our tour guide Anthony explained the various steps to take the cocoa beans and turn them into chocolate. At the time it was semi clear but now it is back to a mystery as to how they do it. They use many machines and it’s a mystery to us how they made chocolate before this machinery. It takes two weeks from picking the cocoa bean pods to get to the end process of wrapping and packaging the product. Unfortunately, we were there at the end of the two weeks so only saw the machines not is use. At the end, we were given the opportunity to buy Grenada chocolate, and we didn’t disappoint them. They had 79% chocolate bars 3 for $20EC. Then they had cocoa balls with a recipe to make hot cocoa. These do not melt so I bought a few bags to store under the V-Berth for gifts. The chocolate bars are in the refrigerator.
By 1pm, we were hungry and hoping for lunch. Cutty took us to a resort at Petite Anse Bay just north of Almost Paradise Resort to see if we would get lunch there. The view was spectacular and we could see Carriacou and other islands,mbut the prices were too high so we went with his second recommendation of a buffet lunch at the Rum Factory for $35EC each including the cost of the tour. It was a great option. Good food for a good price.
A short drive away the River Antoine Rum Distillery was where we had a buffet lunch then a tour of the rum distillery. The food was very good: BBQ chicken, pigeon peas and rice, a noodle dish, fish with peppers, plantains and green bananas and pumpkin. They served cold water and passion fruit juice.
The process starts out crushing the sugar cane using a water powered machine built in 1785. This was amazing as it is over 200 years old and still works fine. It was made by the G. Fletcher & Co out of cast iron put together in plates. What is unique at this distillery is that they make the rum from the sugar cane and some molasses the old fashion way with original equipment. They own 500 acres and grow their own sugar cane. They use the spent sugar cane for fuel to run the furnaces to cook down the syrup from the sugar cane, which is then transferred to the concrete tanks which hold about 3500 gallons during fermentation. They didn’t add any yeast but have them open to,the air to,use the natural yeast. The rest of the used sugar canes is used for mulch in the fields.
Our tour guide, Patricia, took us through the whole process up to the still and to the hydrometers to check for 75% alcohol level that they use for sale if you are not flying on a plane. If you fly, they water it down to 69% alcohol level. We had a tasting and this 75% stuff was like gasoline and burned all the way down.
After we left the rum distillery we went to the Grand Etang Rain Forest Reserve and to see the Mona monkeys and the Crater Lake. Both Lorraine and I had our camera batteries go dead so we don’t have many pictures from here on. Cutty had some bananas to feed the monkeys. He would hold the bananas such that the monkeys would climb up Rick and Tony and Lorraine to stand on their shoulders and arm. The monkeys were fearless.
On the way home, we stopped at Annandale Falls. The falls were a short walk from the parking lot. It was pretty, and unfortunately we don’t have pictures yet. There is a deep pool at the bottom of the falls where people swim but there wasn’t swimming today.
After the Falls, we rode home tired out from a very full day arriving back at 5pm. Once on Changes we had grilled cheese sandwiches then collapsed and just read for the evening.
Phil and Lorraine
Phil was kind enough to write most of this post. I’ve been very tired today and having a harder day with grief and out of sorts. Maybe tomorrow will be better.