Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Monday 16th November
Another beautiful morning that started with a swim - we're getting a little fitter because we can now do a whole round of the boats moored nearest to shore. After breakfast we headed north towards the middle of the island, then west out to Gouvaye. I think we forgot to mention in Saturday's blog some of the interesting features of driving in Grenada. First is the distinct lack of signposts. It's a little bit like Lincolnshire, but rather than just not putting them back up after the war I'm not sure they were ever up in the first place. Second is the glaring difference between roads on the ground and roads on the map. It's more a case of spot the similarity than spot the difference. And third is the fantastic driving style that abounds - where everything else is undertaken with a distinct lack of haste, behind the wheel everyone appears to aspire to be the next Ayrton Senna. And no, I'm not just talking about before the crash.
First stop on the journey was lake Grand Etang, a fresh water lake in a volcano crater, high up in the interior of the island. Then onto Gouyave, a tiny strip town hugging the shore. Visited the local fish market, a tiled shed; one end open to the sea, the other to the main street, locals were hosing out the fish waste and hanging up their 2 foot long gutting knives, waiting for the next boats to put in that evening. Further along the main street was one of the three nutmeg processing plants on the island. It is now a cooperative, but has the nineteenth century architecture of an old plantation building. Inside are rows upon rows of low wooden shelves, all full of drying nutmeg. A guide explains the process; after drying the shells are cracked and the nuts sorted from the husks...by hand... before being packed for export. The rate is piece work and c. 130lbs (3 days work) earns 35 EC dollars (7GBP). Level of automation is pre-industrial revolution, and the work would be mind-numbingly dull.
Back home, after a long and tedious detour, a rock fall (self induced via incompetence with explosives apparently) has closed one of the three major roads on the island. Rumor has it that due to lack of cash the government has hired the lowest cost and least capable company to clear it, locals think it will take weeks....explains why following Hurricane Ivan (5 yrs ago) there are still so many ongoing reconstruction projects for schools and hospitals.