Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Welcome to Grenada!

Amid packing for a week in Paradise, my plans were slightly disturbed with an email from my host hotel announcing I would be virtually homeless for my first night in Grenada due to an overbooked Saturday night.  Nothing says, “we can’t wait to meet you” like an email announcing your eviction.  Luckily, I had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful people from the Grenada Tourism Board a month earlier at a travel convention, so I was able to not only figure out a place to lay my head that first night, but also the logistics of traveling to said hotel.  Francine put me in touch with Mount Cinnamon.  The name couldn’t be more perfect!  Set high atop the mountainside overlooking the sea I felt like I was in some fancy European coastal town I couldn’t pronounce.  Do you smell that?  What is it?!  Nutmeg? Cinnamon? Could be both, afterall, it is the island of spice and whether atop the mountain or out to sea you can smell this inviting smell.  It’s heavenly!

They say if Paradise was easy to get to everyone would go.  It took me three connections and four flights to reach my destination.  Partly because of the season, the gateway and because I was using miles.  There are daily flights from Miami so depending on your location from Miami, it may not be as much of a challenge as it was for me coming out of northern Minnesota. In October.  Arriving into Grenada is something like circa 1950s where we deplane outside and walk the tarmac to the airport.  You know you are in the true Caribbean when you get to do this! Our flight arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule which allowed us to clear through customs and immigrations a bit quicker without much hassle.  Outside the airport we witnessed herds of people awaiting their all inclusive shuttle.  As they scrutinized their paperwork to make sure they had the right shuttle that would take them to their Americanized resort abroad I sauntered to the taxi hub where I was able to grab a local beer, Stag or Carib, and I whatsapped my friend to let her know I had arrived.  I wasn’t in a hurry to go anywhere.  Afterall, I had just arrived in Paradise.  It was fun to people watch.  I especially love to watch Americans.  You can always pick out the ones who haven’t traveled much.  They are the ones who stick together like they may be separated and never see each other again.  The ones who are horrified when they see the speed of the drivers or how many people they can pack in a car (or on the back of a dump truck)!  They also are the ones who somehow find it necessary to put on this “gameface” of all seriousness and don’t smile and refuse to talk to locals without the fear of being had.  It’s ok, I’m not judging; I was one of those Americans once too.

As the 80+ degree night paired with 90% humidity and slight sea breeze blew on my face I sat and enjoyed my cool beverage while I awaited my ride.  My hair morphed into some ridiculous mushroom cap and my pasty white skin sparkled (divas don’t sweat, they sparkle) yet the locals weren’t scared.  We chatted a bit about politics (of course, it was obvious I was an American) and I inquired about what were some of the must see things to do.  They boasted about the beautiful coastline, the Estates, the rainforest, the festivals, the chocolate, brewery tours and on and on….such a proud country with humble souls!  My phone alerted me my ride was on her way.  Mass had just ended and since my flight was early she apologized for running late.  No worries, this is the stuff I can blog about!  I began to giggle a little to myself after I realized how small the cars were.  I wondered how many others would be in the car and where my bags would go.  Not to be disappointed, in true Caribbean style, Francine pulls up in her personal car (not a company shuttle) loaded with kids from church and greets me with a warm smile and hug.  We situate my bag in the car next to her son who isn’t thrilled but takes one for the team.  I got to sit in the back seat with the children and I’m instructed to “hold the eggs” so they don’t break.  I love this!  To distract the children, about 8 and 10, from the fact we’re squished in the backseat I started asking them questions such as, “what do I HAVE to do while I’m here”.  Their answers surprised me; very simple yet so honest:  You need to go to the beach.  Look for shells.  Talk a lot because you have a funny accent.  Wear lots of that lotion because you are as “white as chalk”.   Before I knew it, the ride was over and I had to say goodbye to my little friends. Oh my goodness they were adorable!

Although many of you reading this won’t have an experience like this when you go to Grenada you hopefully got a sneak peek into what it will feel like to go there.  You will notice the friendliness, the sincerity, the servant hearts.  You will also notice the beauty of the island that is found out at sea and deep within the rainforest.  You will see lots of police officers but most of which don’t carry weapons on one of the safest islands in the Caribbean.  In a nutshell (ha! no pun intended) if you are looking for a new destination, something unique, consider Grenada.  You won’t be disappointed!


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