Grenada–Day One!

 

Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook will know this post is coming. I had asked for suggestions on what people wanted to see. Unfortunately I realized I couldn’t fit everything into one post so some of you will have to wait for subsequent posts. Hopefully you won’t find this post too boring. 

 

The first thing I want to cover is “Check-In”. This is something that is required in all the countries (and territories) we have stopped at. Some places its very bureaucratic and time consuming, other places its super simple. Grenada falls somewhere in the middle. Since we technically are not allowed off the boat until we complete this procedure, it was a high priority upon arriving. The day we arrived, we could not check in as it was a national holiday and the office was closed, we were trapped on the boat. The next day, we got on the “Cruiser’s Net” and asked if the office would be open and where it actually was. After being assured the office would be open till noon and a general idea of its location, Mike (Last Tango) and I hopped in our dinghy and headed into the marina. The Customs and Immigration office is located in the marina on top of the convenience store, right next to the bar (yup, these are directions we were given). Upon arriving at the office there were 2 gentlemen casually sitting there who greeted us with big smiles. We were informed that Grenada has adopted the SeaClear system (www.seaclear.com) and we would need to create an account and setup the system before we could complete the check in.  We were led over to computer where we got on the Internet and setup our accounts. Once the accounts were setup, we simply printed out the clear in documents and were ushered to the other side of the room. Our passports were stamped and the fees were calculated. The entire process took about 1/2 hour for both boats. Here is a break down of the fees we paid.

NOTE – All fees are in Eastern Caribbean Dollar. Since we hadn’t been to a country with EC yet, we didn’t have any onboard. Luckily the Grenadians are very laid back and exchanged some USD for us at the regular rate.  $1EC was $0.50CAD at the time we paid the fees!

 

– $50 for the cruising permit (need to renew every month, yes $50/month)

– $40.50 cruise levy ($8.10/person one time).

– $0.00 Visa good for 3 months, after 3 months an extension costs $25/month

 

With check-in completed I headed back to the boat to free the crew as they had been on the boat for about 60 hours. Since it was the last day of Carnival we were pumped to catch a bus to downtown St. George’s and see the parade. Now understand, we had just arrived in a foreign country where didn’t have any local currency, had no idea where to go, no information on the buses, nor any idea of how far it actually was. Just a normal day in the life of a cruiser! We just piled in the dinghy and pointed towards the other side of the bay with plans to ask someone on the dock where to go. We got to the dinghy dock and found some cruisers who pointed us in the direction of the bus and gave us some vague directions. The 7 of us (Last Tango) set off in the +32C heat in the direction we were pointed. After a short walk we arrived at the described “round about” with a bus sitting there. After a short haggle, the bus agreed to $20EC for the entire trip (we overpaid by about $6EC), oh well. Mike and I combined the change we received from check-in and were able to come up with $20EC

 

I will take a moment to describe the “buses” here in Grenada. They are really just European style vans with extra seats installed. Each bus always has 2 employees, one driver and one “hustler”. Since buses are privately owned with a fixed fair ($2.50/adult, $1.25/child) their wage is directly proportional to the number of passengers they load aboard. This is the job of the hustler, they hang out the windows yelling at pedestrians trying to get them aboard. During Carnival, the fixed prices are removed so they also become the haggler.

 

So now that we haggled and were on the bus, it took off in the complete opposite direction I thought we should be going. However I just sat back and enjoyed drinking in my first views of Grenada (its an island, how lost could we get). Within a few minutes I knew I was really going to like Grenada. It has some European and North American vibe, but is decidedly Caribbean. Recognizable names such as True Value, Ace, Sherwin Williams, Scotia Bank all passed by, yet all the vehicles and street signs are European. This is all mixed in with the very Caribbean style architecture, housing and landscaping.  As we got closer to St. George’s the architecture began to change and become more traditional. The buildings began to look like something out of a pirate movie and in fact many of them date back to the 1700s! A stunning place!

 

Due to the parade the bus was not able to take us directly downtown, but instead dropped us off at the top of the hill. We walked down the hill and onto the parade route. We choose a spot in the new area of St. George’s right across from the Island Water World chandlery. Since we were very early for the parade Mike and I decided to find a bank machine and get some EC. It was hot and we all wanted a beer which required EC to buy. So Mike, Jonah and I set off on the 1 mile walk to the nearest bank machine! Although it was a long and hot walk I enjoyed staring at the stunning buildings and architecture. It wasn’t hard to imagine what the city was like 100, 200 or even 250 years ago! Unfortunately I left the camera with Rhonda. I promise on my next trip to St. George’s I will take a bunch of photos.

 

After our long walk we arrived back to the girls (and kids) with much appreciated beers. The beers “almost” made up for the fact that we were gone over an hour. In my defense we didn’t know it was a mile away when we left. So, after getting my tongue lashing, we settled in to watch the parade. I won’t go into too much detail as I believe a Carnival parade needs to be experienced. Its very loud, colorful and enchanting. However as the day goes by and some of the dancers enjoy more beer, it gets a little more racy. Add some of the female students from the University and a couple of times I felt like I was at a nightclub. Then at one point a fellow that was obviously very stoned showed up and started trying to talk with the kids. We played good sport for a while but it quickly went south when he sparked a lighter 1 inch from Jonah’s face. After I threatened to beat him to a bloody pulp and drown him in the bay, he mumbled some explanatives and stumbled off. All this happened quickly and behind Rhonda’s back so she didn’t even know it transpired. Its sad how drugs have infiltrated every corner of the earth and proceed to ruin people lives. Anyway, shortly after those antics, we decided we had enough and would head back to the boat!

 

On the way back to the boat, Mike and Gigi insisted on taking us out to eat at Timbers (the restaurant at the dinghy dock). We had a fantastic dinner and drinks with great friends to finish the night off (again thank you so much Last Tango). The food was fantastic, but the hot sauce they served was superb. So with burning lips, we headed back to the boat for much needed sleep!

 

1

Just like they said, “Over the Mini-Mart, to the left of the bar”!

 

2

The beach volleyball court next to Customs and Immigration. Yes there is a goat in this picture.

 

3

Prickly Bay anchorage and mooring balls.

 

4

Kids loaded on the bus and getting their first views of Grenada!

 

5

A rare Jonah smile. He got to play an instrument. Note how we Daph is, a storm just passed through.

 

6

The dancers come in all shapes and sizes!

 

7

There was eye candy for me…

 

8

And eye candy for Rhonda and Gigi.. Note, who got to snuggle the eye candy!

 

9

Hello Sophia!

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