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Location: St George, Grenada

It was a journey not just through the island but also through the senses and taste buds today. For today was the spice tour of Grenada.

Upon arriving on the mainland of Grenada, students enjoyed a brief moment of familiarity at a coffee shop located at the marina. Being a part of the first group of dinghy riders, I was lucky to be able to savor my banana mango smoothie (with extra orange juice) while my crew-mates sipped their coffees. Driving through Grenada was awe-inspiring, wildly different from both Nevis and Antigua. With towering mountains covered in lush vegetation lining every side, I felt like an ant inside a tropical terrarium. The colors around me were like a pastel kaleidoscope and so unique from anywhere I’d ever seen. I thought Antigua had an expressive color palate, but this was jaw-dropping. Flowers that my family would strenuously cultivate in a pot back at home were growing out of cracks in the sidewalk. Our tour guide Michael had lots to share about local history, architecture, culture, and jokes that created a personal experience for the group. One of my favorites was about how Grenada ordered all of their cars from Japan custom-made to shrink when going down tight roads. There were a lot of tight roads, but we didn’t shrink. We just got really close to every person and vehicle around us. The drive alone was an unforgettable experience for me and my fellow crew. Grenada definitely has a lot to offer, and I remember wanting to stop and inquire about some shop, restaurant, or garden at almost every turn. Soon enough, the bus came to a halt. I turned to my right, and a small property filled with plant life was in front of me. In the distance, I could see a table covered in local fruits, herbs, and spices. The van door opened up, and the scent of each one entered my nose. We stepped out of our air-conditioned vehicle into the humid air, wondering what Grenada had for us in store. -Casey

Where Casey left off, we were about to embark on a “spice tour.” This term had been tossed around for the past couple of days, tantalizing us with images of a trek through forests of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves – through to factories where we would see the spices processed and packaged into the thousands of glass bottles we buy in the grocery store.
Instead, we were greeted with a small wooden house abutting an arbor of trees of varying species. The ground crunched and shifted as we walked to a long table occupied by unfamiliar fruit and a light haze of flies. A man with a gold tooth greeted us, smiling. He used his phone to record the duration of the ‘tour’ while occasionally bunting forward a sly joke. Meanwhile, Michael passed around bits of bark and shells. He let us sniff or crumble between our fingers. He described the different spices produced in Grenada, notably nutmeg, and gestured to the ground, which he affirmed was covered in a mulch of nutmeg shells. A quick lope around the house, and we had seen and touched the trees that produced all these spices. These trees, in fact, appeared to grow everywhere in Grenada, infusing the land with intoxicating scents and textures. Grenada is an intimate country. To me, it is composed of vignettes like this ‘spice tour.” Of laughter, easy banter with strangers, heady smells, and homeliness. Within the sweeping mountain tops, expansive black beaches, and nature described evocatively by Casey above, the people have built tiny communities packed with a human connection. We left out spice tours bearing bottles of nutmeg syrup and tiny jars of spices, as well as the warm words of our tour guides and the image of their flashing smiles forever emblazoned in our minds.

After the spice tour, we had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Diamond Chocolate Factory of Grenada, the producer of Jouvay chocolate. We were greeted by our kind tour guides in the sunny and bright area outside the factory. I immediately noticed the wonderful smell of fermenting cacao beans left to dry in the sun, along with the many spices grown alongside the cacao. The guides introduced us to many spices, including fresh cinnamon straight off the tree, which was delicious. They then allowed us to taste the raw cacao bean, showed us the chocolate-making machinery in the factory, and showed us cacao beans that had already gone through the 14-day fermentation and drying process. Finally, we had lots of time in the gift shop, where everyone got to purchase as much chocolate, cacao nibs, nutmeg syrup, and hot chocolate as they could ever desire. It was a great time. After the chocolate tour, we headed back to Ocean Star for our usual dinner and evening routine. Overall, an absolutely incredible excursion day.

Meanwhile, I (Ash) was actually not on the tour – big shout out to all the students that contributed such a beautiful retelling of their day above – but was instead fixing some of our regs (a.k.a., regulators, which are an essential part of our scuba kits). So my day was filled with the smell of compressed air. Mmmmmmm. I’m not sure it’s quite as delicious and nice as cinnamon and spice. But I do personally love fixing regs. And then, once everyone got back, I had my own personal delivery of chocolate!! Thanks, Nick!!! So as someone already put it, an absolutely incredible day for all of us.