As this is a long post, I’ve decided to divide it into two parts. The first is more about our guide and the recent history of the island – very interesting to me, and I hope you agree. The second part is about the tour itself.
The alarm went off at 7 a.m., an ungodly hour for us, so the island tour scheduled today had better be good….😡
We’d organised breakfast for delivery to our balcony, and I noticed that some crockery had already been laid on the table. I sat on the balcony with my mug of lemon and ginger tea in glorious sunshine once again, feeling so lucky to be here.
At around 7.46 a.m., a tall Grenadian started his slow, measured walk towards us from the Beach Club restaurant with our breakfast balanced on his shoulder. Carefully laid out once again for a great start to the day.
Our transport for our tour turned up – a very nice posh Toyota people carrier driven by a very knowledgeable Grenadian named Junior. Just the two of us as passengers. Nice.
The idea was to get more of a feel for the island – this was the first time we had left the hotel – and take in some sights on the way.
Right from the off, it became evident that this is a poor economy. Bad road surfaces, ramshackle housing and some hair-raising driving. Apparently, the unemployment rate is of the order of 30%.
In true Grenadian style, Junior negotiated this chaos insouciantly, driving with one hand on the wheel, talking on his phone, even whilst taking true hairpin bends, narrow roads and really steep gradients. He really knew his way around. Lots of tooting horns.
Before I get to the details of the tour, a few observations about Junior himself. 49 years old, two daughters, one aged 25 studying medicine in the USA, and another aged 4 from different relationships. His father seems to have impregnated every other female on the island and produced over 20 offspring, just walking away each time. He has, unsurprisingly, nothing to do with his father, but is very close to his mother and grandfather. From various remarks he made, he also seemed to be religious, although we didn’t discover which denomination. He also claimed to be the cousin of the island’s prime minister! He didn’t strike me as someone who would make such a claim if it was untrue.
He lived for three years in New York, learning the tech side of computer networks, and hated it. He also, by implication, suffered racism there. As a result, again unsurprisingly, he is anti-American, and the invasion by the USA of Grenada in 1983 provoked particular ire. I have to say, from my own viewpoint, what the hell were the Americans thinking of? As Grenada was governed by “commies”, was it going to become another Cuba?
At the time of the invasion, the prime minister of Grenada was Maurice Bishop, who took over from Eric Gairy in a left-wing coup in 1979 and set about revolutionising the island – it would seem, in a good way. More details about this extraordinary bloke and how he met his end can be found at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Bishop. Most of the older generation in Grenada hark back to the hugely positive progress made by Bishop which was brought to an end by Ronald Reagan. The British did absolutely nothing. Reagan didn’t even seek permission from Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister at the time, even though Grenada was, and is, still part of the Commonwealth, having got independence in 1976.
Apart from his strongly held political views, Junior was evangelical about herbal medicines, with Grenada apparently the best source in the world of the plants required to cure cancer (a plant called soursop – research needed), thin the blood, (cayenne pepper) and various other claims that, if I’m honest, I’m somewhat cynical about, although I do accept that the Western world is generally over-medicalised. He was very careful about what he ate – natural foods only and was into intermittent fasting. He regarded himself as a bit of an outsider, confirmed by the fact that, unlike most male Grenadians, he disliked rum…..
The name Peter de Savary may mean something to people of a certain age. He was the tycoon who sponsored the 1983 British attempt at the Americas Cup, the sailing challenge.
The reason I mention him is that he was resident on Grenada, and Junior worked for him for a number of years, rating him highly as a boss. This is how he acquired expertise in marina management, an area he was trying to build a business in after suffering financially from failed relationships after de Savary died in October 2022. A very sick man, apparently, he was taking multiple pills and suffering side-effects, which can only have strengthened Junior’s conviction that the Western approach to medicine was designed to try to keep people alive for as long as possible so as to make more money out of them.
As we continued on the tour, he stopped frequently to get samples of various herbs for us to smell, all the while extolling their various virtues. Despite my cynicism, this was genuinely interesting and it has motivated me to find out more about them, possibly for use in our own culinary efforts.
You can tell from the foregoing that we spent a lot of time in Junior’s company and he was an interesting guy to get to know. We all got on well, and he proved himself a very able guide, as the next post will hopefully highlight.