Difference between revisions of "Grenada"
Revision as of 19:23, 12 September 2008
Grenada  is a group of three larger islands (Grenada, Carriacou, and Petit Martinique) and several tiny islands in the Caribbean, or West Indies. It lies just northeast of Trinidad and Tobago, and southwest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is famous for spices and is known as the "Spice Isle", being a major source of nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and cocoa.
Christopher Columbus discovered Grenada in 1498. The island was already inhabited by the Carib Indians, who had migrated from the South American mainland, killing or enslaving the peaceful Arawaks who where already inhabitants here. The Amerindians called their island Camerhogue, but Columbus renamed it Concepción. However, passing Spanish sailors found its lush green hills so evocative of Andalusia that they rejected this name in favor of Granada.
Over the centuries, although control of the island passed from France to Britain (and briefly back to France again), the name endured with just the slightest of alterations, changing from "Granada" to "La Grenade" to "Grenada".
The French were the first to settle Grenada. Legend holds that in 1652 the last of the defending Caribs rather than be ruled by the French, threw themselves into the sea from a spot that was christened Le Morne des Sauteurs, and is known today as Leapers' Hill.
Exploited first for indigo (hence the name "True Blue"), and later for sugar production, the island prospered and, like many others in the Caribbean, attracted the attention of the British. Captured by Admiral George Rodney in 1762, near the end of the European Seven Years' War (1756-63), Grenada reverted to French rule from 1779 until 1783 when the island was restored to Britain by the Treaty of Versailles.
The inhabitants' loyalties remained divided between the two European powers for many years, as illustrated by Fedon's Rebellion of 1795. In the course of this violent episode, a group of rebels under the command of the mulatto General Julien Fedon, and inspired by the rhetoric of the French Revolution wreaked havoc on the island and its British settlers in an unsuccessful attempt to reunite with France.
From 1784 until its independence in 1974, Grenada remained a member of the British Empire, passing through various stages of colonial status and multiple associations with other regional states. In 1967, Grenada became an "Associated State of Great Britain" within the British Commonwealth. With this, the island nation gained control of its internal affairs, while the government of Britain continued to control external matters.
Early in the twentieth century, it produced one of the region's outstanding leaders, T. Albert Marryshow. His Representative Government Association, which inspired similar movements in other Windward Islands states and in Trinidad, did much to encourage the liberalization of British rule in the Caribbean.
It is ironic that the achievement in 1950 of universal adult suffrage, long a goal of Marryshow's, led directly to his displacement in Grenadian political life by a new figure, Eric Matthew Gairy. Whereas Marryshow had been a man of the middle class, Gairy and his Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) appealed to the lower class, the peasantry. Suddenly empowered by the vote, Gairy's supporters swept him to the leadership of the Legislative Council in 1951; he dominated the island's politics for almost three decades.
The most successful electoral challenge to Gairy between 1951 and 1979 was posed by Herbert Blaize's Grenada National Party (GNP) in 1961, mainly on the issue of union with Trinidad and Tobago (the "unitary state" proposal). Again reflecting the Grenadian penchant for looking outward for support and viability, the GNP campaigned on a platform urging acceptance of the Trinidadian offer of union. Although Blaize's party won the election, it subsequently lost a large measure of prestige and credibility when Trinidad failed to follow through on the proposal. The GNP's fall from grace paved the way for the return of Gairy, who has never tired of the role of political savior of his country. Complete independence was achieved in 1974, with significant opposition, under the leadership of the late Sir Eric Gairy -- a charismatic and controversial figure who had been in the public eye since the early 1950s.
In 1979, an attempt was made to set up a socialist/communist state in Grenada. Four years later, at the request of the Governor General, the United States, Jamaica, and the Eastern Caribbean States intervened militarily. Launching their now famous "rescue mission", the allied forces restored order, and in December of 1984 a general election re-established democratic government.
The last 23 years have been a peaceful, democratic and fruitful back to normal existence, which has included many new building structures and vastly improved infrastructure.
Average temperatures range from 24°C/ 75°F to 30°C/ 87°F, tempered by the steady and cooling trade winds. The lowest temperatures occur between January and April. 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.
A valid passport and return or onward ticket is required. Visas are not required from citizens of the USA, Canada, United Kingdom and its dependencies, British Commonwealth countries, Caribbean countries (except Cuba), Venezuela, European Community countries and their dependencies, Norway, Japan, and Israel. Commonwealth of Independent States such as Russia and the Ukraine and the Baltic States such as Estonia and Latvia, and other eastern European countries such as Hungary, Romania and Slovenia are required to purchase a tourist visa on arrival in Grenada and costs EC$ 25. Duty Free Allowances - Personal items, one quart in total wines and spirits, half-pound tobacco or 50 cigars or 200 cigarettes. No restrictions on the amount of money that can be brought in. Restricted items are fruits, vegetables, meat, soil, illegal drugs, firearms and ammunition.
Point Salines International Airport (IATA: GND)(ICAO: TGPY) is on the main island of Grenada, located on a peninsula in the extreme southwest corner. It is about 4 miles from the capital of St. George's. British Airways, American Eagle (from San Juan only), Monarch, Air Canada (dry season only), Virgin Atlantic (UK), Liat, Air Jamaica, Condor (Germany), Excel Airways (UK), Aerotuy and Conviasa (VE)(from Porlamar, Margarita) provide direct service to Grenada; connections can be made on Liat via Trinidad and Barbados, and also from Barbados via SVG Airlines.
Private moorings for yachts are available all around the island.
In towns, walking is viable, though often strenuous on hills in the hot sun. Use care to avoid traffic on narrow streets with narrow or no sidewalks.
Most of the travel in and around St. George's is by taxis and minibuses. To hail a taxi, one must simply be standing on a street corner. The independently owned, but government licensed, cars and vans will stop and ask if one wants a ride. Some standard fares include EC$30.00 from the airport to St. George's and EC$25-$40.00 for trips from most hotels to the various dining spots around the city.
Buses in Grenada are the standardized form of transportation. They are vans that hold between 15-19 people, and they have route numbers and signs on them. In town, there are designated bus stops, however, once you leave town, you can signal a stop by either knocking on the wall or pressing the stop button. Conductors and drivers are always very friendly, so do not hesitate to ask them where you should stop. Bus fares vary between EC$2.50-10.00 depending on the distance. They are lively trips, with great music and a nice breeze.
Car rentals are available, with rates of US$50.00 - US$75.00 per day. With a valid license from your home country you will qualify for a temporary Grenada license which can be obtained from any police station for a fee of EC$30. Drive on the left and make frequent use of the car's horn when coming around the numerous blind corners in the mountains.
Water taxis are another means of getting around.
English is spoken throughout the country with a Grenadian accent that can sometimes be confused for a different language. However, it is in fact English! French Patois used to be the dialect language spoken within Grenada, but it only remains within the older generations and in scattered pockets. Most Grenadians only know a few words.
Nutmeg is Grenada's cash crop, so be sure to bring some home in some form - whole, jam, jelly, syrup, Nutmed (medicinal ointment). In addition, you can purchase nutmeg flavored ice cream, which has an unusual flavor that is difficult to find elsewhere. Due to Hurricane Ivan in September of 2004, over 90% of Grenada's nutmeg crop was destroyed, but thankfully, you will still see an abundance around the market, town, and tourist shops. Other fine spices include mace and cinnamon.
Note: To bring herbs/spices back to the U.S. (and several other countries), they need to be within properly sealed containers. Most responsible sellers offer them so packaged.
Real vanilla is a steal in the markets, sometimes it can be found for as little as $1US for a 1/2 litre bottle. The concentration of the fluid does vary, but in its pure form there is a noticeable (and very pleasant) difference from the vanilla extract that most North Americans are used to. You might also look for dried vanilla beans (in pod)...an essential to a fine range of kitchen herbs/spices.
For liquor (rum), see "Drink" below.
The large pier outside the main harbor supports multiple large cruise ships. As a result, a small, enclosed, duty-free mall has been built there. It has several shops offering both local items and those of interest to ships' passengers.
Grenada is known for many of its rum distilleries. All three offer educational tours that demonstrate the sugar production for rum. The three largest companies are Clarke's Court, Westerhall and River Antoine. They are all located on different parts of the island with only Clarke's Court and River Antoine being the true remaining distilleries. Although Westerhall is not completely produced here, their special rum (with the wax casing) is probably the best rum on the island. Clarke's Court makes both light and special dark rums which are also quite delicious. Be forewarned about River Antoine. It has a 75% alcohol content which you are not allowed to export. (They make a version with 69% for exporting.) At all the distilleries you can buy small bottles, and rum is sold in most grocery stores and rum shops.
In many bars, take care with drinks made with "under the counter", e.g., often used in "Pain Killers". That highly overproof rum can overwhelm the most experienced drinkers.
See each island's article for accommodation listings.
Grenada is a fairly safe country. There may be more danger for pedestrians on narrow sidewalks and streets than from crime.
There is a General Hospital in St.George's, a smaller hospital at Mirabeau on the east coast and one in Carriacou. A small private hospital in St. Paul, clinics and doctors are available. House-calls can be made. Drinking water is chlorinated in most places.
Dialysis is now available on the Grenada Island. A company called Island Health Services has opened the first dialysis unit (Fresenius) on the island and has been operating for almost a year now. Dialysis dependent travellers from all over the world are now able to visit this beautiful island and live again.
Although Grenada is a West Indian island in the Caribbean, Grenadians do not spend the majority of their time "liming" on the beach. They are very serious about their jobs and many workplaces require specially-tailored suits. Though work remains, they rightly take well-deserved pride in widespread repairs to massive damage from hurricane Ivan.
St. George's Town is a place of commerce with the many banks, businesses, and governmental offices. Do not confuse it for the beach. It is often seen as rude or disrespectful for people to walk around Grenada inappropriately dressed, especially if you are dressed for the beach and you are not on it. Do not confuse the laid-back attitude for lazy, as Grenadians have a very formal and conservative attitude about their lifestyle and workplace.