Now let’s visit Grenada.
Good ol’ Chris Columbus first saw the island in 1498. It was occupied by Caribs and Karina peoples. The British tried to settle the island, but failed, so the French bought the island from the Caribs and Karinas in 1650, which caused a war to break out between other islands natives. Britain again got the island in 1783. It got its independence in 1974. Then political troubles resulted in several coups d’etat, involving some who wanted a communistic country and those who didn’t. One leader was executed. Six days later, and some of you will recall this, U.S. forces along with those of six other Caribbean nations invaded Grenada, saying the safety of U.S. medical students was imperiled.
A worse event was the September 2004 direct hit by Hurricane Ivan, when 90 percent of homes were damaged or destroyed. This hot and humid island is often the brunt of hurricanes, but none as bad as Ivan. With tourism the main basis for the economy, this was a terrible double blow to the islanders.
Queen Elizabeth II is also the formal head of Grenada, again represented by a Governor General, but again the power rests with a prime minister. Again, the lower House of Representatives is elected by the people, but the governor general appoints the senators. Grenada is also divided into parishes…another French contribution?
The capital is St. George’s, one of the most colorful ports in the Caribbean. It’s in a dead crater and has old forts surrounding it. It reminds people of Portofino, Italy. Buildings are Georgian style, with red tile roofs brought from England as ballast on ships. Pastel walls brighten the town against the tropical green background. In that tropical jungle one finds palms, oleander, bougainvillea, hibiscus, anthurium, bananas, and ferns. About 80% of the English-speaking population is of African descent. Half are Catholics; the rest mostly Anglican.
Grenada is called the Spice Island. Tropical, very fertile and lush, the land is just the place for growing spices. Grenada produces more spices than anywhere else in the world…cloves, cinnamon, mace, cocoa, tonka beans, ginger and one third of the world’s supply of nutmeg. Actually the world’s second largest producer of nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and cocoa. If spice vendors “bug” you, just say you already have some. But you need to know, the spices are fresh and better than at home.
If you get a chance, a visit to the National Museum gives a good picture of the background of Grenada. It’s set in an old French army barracks and prison built in 1704. It has archaeological finds and other exhibits, including a marble tub used by Josephine Bonaparte (Napoleon’s wife) when she lived on Martinique. Another Caribbean island , Ft. George, is another possible visit site. In 1705, the French built it, and it has a 360-degree view of harbor.