We have sailed south from The Grenadines, and have spent the last week in Grenada. This will mark the southernmost point of our trip! We will savour a slow journey back north after this. The crew had been adjusting well to life on land (mostly) and we have visited more than one chocolate factory while we've been here! Micah loves munching on raw cocoa nibs.
Grenada is absolutely beautiful! It's not a very large island and has only about 110,000 people. Everyone here is very friendly and helpful, and there is a harmonious mix of people from all over the world. Things are very well organised for cruisers (people like us, living on boats) and there are social events, bus rides, tours and even a weekly running event called "The Hash".
The "Hashers" call themselves "Drinkers with a running problem" and host a walk or run through the jungles and pastoral lands of Grenada every Saturday afternoon. We were lucky to participate in Hash number 1,226 (or something like that). Lots of sailing friends from the ARC were there too!
A couple of days later, we hired a local driver and had 2 days of amazing touring around Grenada. His name was Patrick, but he is known locally as "Shademan". His Toyota HiAce was well past its prime, but got us around the island in style! Our family really enjoys hanging out with our new Quebecois friends from the boat "Jayana", Sylvain, Sounda, Mael and Lohan. Bret, Amanda & Renner from "Out of the Woods" have been super fun as well. Lana has been put in charge of hairdos for the boys, and they love it!
We drove for an hour to reach a famous Grenadian Chocolate Plantation/Factory - Belmont Estates. We learned how to make chocolate, from tree to chocolate bar. In this photo, Micah takes a raw cocoa bean after Sheldon picked a ripe cocoa pod from a tree. The raw beans are coated in a very delicious slime that tastes like sweet lemonade.
Next, the cocoa beans are fermented for 6 days under a bed of banana leaves. After that, the beans are dried in the sun and, traditionally, workers would walk through the beans daily to aerate them and help in the drying process.
We tried some raw, dried cocoa nibs and they were very bitter. A lot of sugar and dairy goes into the chocolate we all know and love! The factory also brewed us some traditional chocolate tea that was so-loved by the Brits who started Belmont Estates about 100 years ago. In fact, it was their main way of consuming the chocolate for many years.
On the way home from the chocolate factory, we visited the mountain monkeys that were imported from South America many generations ago. They are quite tame, and clearly were looking for hand-outs from the tourists. Brave Aria put some food on her head to entice a monkey to land on her.
Micah also got very close and personal with the mountain monkeys.
After the monkeys, we had the chance to hike to a spectacular waterfall up a meandering creek and muddy trail. The jungle was lush and wonderful.
There was an amazing spot to do some cliff jumping into the pool below the waterfall, and all the "kids" threw themselves in with wild abandon.
During our last couple of days in Grenada, we stayed in a quaint little Marina named La Phare Bleu. There were many new kid boats there, and the girls had a great time playing with all of their new friends. Moored at the same marina was an antique, restored Swedish Lighthouse Boat that the kids played hide-and-seek on.
Our time in Grenada is coming to an end, but we have been very impressed with this little island in the southern Caribbean. It's clean, safe and friendly with lots to see and do! We will definitely be back one day.
During daily life, Micah has taken a keen interest in boat handling skills. She coils lines, presses buttons, steers the boat, and just generally likes getting into the sailing.
Next we will sail back north back into the Grenadines which is usually an upwind affair. We will try to choose days with favourable winds (lighter and slightly from the south, if possible). That way we will keep the crew's stoke level high, and be easier on the boat, in general. We are very excited to be hosting Aria's good friend Addy, and her mom Erica for a week at the end of January. We have so much to show them - snorkelling with turtles, cute little Caribbean villages, sailing around idyllic islands - the list goes on and on!