The past (almost) week has flown by. Mom and Dad M. (AKA Elaine and Phil, AKA Nick’s parents) were able to stay five days before returning home, which was awesome. It was so nice to get to share the island with them, and I think it hopefully put them at ease. They have been incredibly supportive from the moment we announced moving to the island was the plan, but I think they were still maybe a little nervous for us. When you tell people that you’re moving to the Caribbean for school I don’t think they picture Grenada. A lot of people picture a wild, untamed, very poor and dangerous 3rd world land, which is not the case. Grenada is (according to my experience and Google) actually a developing country, with many of the “basic” amenities of home – from running water to consistent electricity to cable to grocery and hardware stores, the island has it. So I think that seeing the beauty of the island and the spirit of the people really allowed Nick’s parents to feel more comfortable with our decision to move here. I can’t wait for Mom and Dad A. (AKA Janie and Mo, AKA my parents) to come visit next! Not to mention our friends!
On Saturday we slept in a bit (well, I, as usual woke up early and got some stuff unpacked while Nick slept. Super jealous of his sleeping in abilities), then met Mom and Dad M. at their hotel. Mom’s watch had stopped working on the flight, so we took it to the “mall” to get a new battery. It apparently was not a battery problem, so we were not able to get it fixed at the time. Nick and I hadn’t had breakfast and we were getting fairly hungry, so we headed down to Umbrella’s, a beach bar/restaurant, to have some lunch. Ray, one of Nick’s friends from last year, was there, so we had him join us and a quick bite turned in to a four hour lunch/drinks. I think I could get used to this kind of leisurely pace (with non-students, of course). Ray brought his two dogs with him this semester, and we discussed the possibility of me providing doggy daycare for him, which would be awesome, because I love dogs, and they’re bigger dogs, so they would keep me even more active. Also, it would give me something to do and put a little income in my pocket. So, yay!
After our leisurely lunch a nap was in order, so we rested and then returned to the Calabash (the hotel Nick’s parents were staying at) for dinner.
Side note: the Calabash is a really nice resort, and Nick’s parents loved staying there. Their anniversary was right before we came down, so they got a really nice room with a private pool area in celebration. They said that they would stay there again, but it may not be worth it to get such a high-end room next time, because they didn’t really use the pool and it (the pool water) was cloudy for the first three days of being there. But, all in all, I can say that if you live in Lance Aux Epines and have people coming to visit that are looking for a nice resort, we can recommend the Calabash. It was a minute drive from our place (we could have easily jogged or walked down), which made it easy.
Dinner was fantastic, and we decided to call it an early night because Ray had invited us on a whale/dolphin spotting trip in the morning. Before heading home we went for a quick drink with our friends Todd and Becca, who had just got in to town that morning. They were free the next morning, so we invited them to come along on our excursion.
Now, before going into the boat trip story, let me just say that I am not the most sea-worthy passenger. A few years ago I went deep sea fishing in Mexico with my friend Tishey, caught one fish, and spent the rest of the time getting sick off of the side of the boat. On our honeymoon, Nick and I went snorkeling, which was a boat-out snorkel trip rather than a swim/walk-out trip, and I spent the whole time chumming the water for him. He saw an amazing amount of fish, apparently. With these experiences under my belt, I knew that I should come to Grenada prepared, so before we left the States my doctor prescribed me Scopolamine patches to help ward of motion sickness. Like the genius that I am, I didn’t read the instructions before Sunday morning, so I didn’t know that they recommend putting the patch on 4 hours before boat travel. Oops. It was 7:30 and we were meeting at 8:45 to leave at 9:00, so I hoped that would be enough time.
I further screwed up by opting to have a full breakfast before we headed out. As a part of their stay, Mom and Dad M. were served a full breakfast on their patio every morning, with the option to pay for additional guests. So we ate breakfast with them that morning and I had fresh juice, poached eggs and toast. I later wished I had skipped the solid food.
On the boat we met another couple that lives in our area. The husband is starting school this fall, and the wife is a fellow SO. Courtney’s family had come down (and been on the flight with Ray, which was how they all met) to help them move, much like ours had. It was great to meet another SO, especially a neighbor!
I was fine for the first 20 minutes or so, but after that it was all over for me. When we were leaving the dock and the captain gave his little speech he said something along the lines of “don’t be embarrassed if you get sick. Be yourself! Just throw up in one of our handy bags.” Well, I was definitely myself on this trip. Those that know me know that after years of migraines paired with nausea and vomiting, I can throw up neatly pretty much anytime, anywhere. I can drive down the road and throw up in a cup, y’all (TMI? Sorry, you can probably expect a lot of that). But that doesn’t mean that I want to do it in public in front of new friends and strangers. So, I went in to the bathroom to get sick the first time, came out and got another bag, and headed back in for round two.
Unfortunately, at this point I was so drenched in sweat that my hands were too slippery to get the door open, so I was locked in the tiny little bathroom, leaning on the wall and feeling awful, until Nick came to check on me/release me from my own private hell. Good thing I hadn’t been able to figure out the mystery that was locking the door, or I would have been truly stuck. Nick created a little bed with towels for me to lay on on one of the benches at the back of the boat, so I laid down while the rest of the passengers hung out on the front seeing what were apparently beautiful and majestic dolphins. Thankfully (I feel bad saying that I’m thankful that anyone else got sick, but it made me a little less embarrassed, so there you go) another woman on the trip also go sick, as did her two little kids (which I am not thankful for), so I felt a little less like a ridiculous baby that couldn’t handle a few waves.
Nick was awesome for taking care of me on the trip, and luckily, he was able to see dolphins once I was laying down and resting. He said that he felt bad that we went on the trip because he should have known better, but it wasn’t his, or anyone else’s fault. I wanted to take the chance, and it didn’t pan out for me. Next time, I’ll put a patch on at the appropriate time and we’ll go on a boat that can turn back at any time. And if that works, we’ll do a longer journey the next time.
Monday was Emancipation Day, meaning a lot of places on the island were closed. It was a rainy day, so we went grocery shopping and loaded up our fridge and pantry with the help of Nick’s parents (can I say again how grateful I am for them?). After unloading our groceries, we had drinks at the beach bar at the Calabash, followed by high tea in their restaurant. After high tea we headed back to Mom and Dad M.’s room to watch the Olympics, because Monday was also the day that Grenadian Olympian Kirani James was to run the 400 m. Grenada had never medaled in the Olympics, and everyone kept telling us that if Kirani won, Carnival would start that night (it officially starts next week). Well, win Kirani did. We all cheered and cried and Nick even ran out of the room screaming (which I’m sure is no shock to anyone that knows him). This was a huge moment for our new home land, and it was incredible to be here for it.
We headed back to the beach bar for celebratory drinks, and once we had ours Mom and I headed to some lounge chairs to relax, while Nick and Dad stayed at the bar. They were having a grand old time; Dad bought at least one round (I think it was probably more, but I know that it was at least one) for the bar and scuba shop employees and they were having an awesome time celebrating. Nick mentioned that he wanted to make sure his parents were able to try the national dish of Oil Down before we left, and Dalton, the pastry chef at the hotel, said that he would ask the chef if he would make it special the next day. Nick was ecstatic. He gets to eat a lot of Oil Down when he goes out hashing, and has had everything from wonderful to questionable Oil Down, as everyone has their own special recipe for it.
From the hotel we went to dinner followed by crab races. Everyone was in a celebratory mood after Kirani’s win – the next day was even declared a half-day holiday. There were people in the streets liming (partying) and you could hear music and laughter up and down the beach.
Crab races are exactly what they sound like. Each race is a little different. The first race you bet on the first crab to make it out of the ring, the next race the last crab to leave the ring (which takes forever, I think turtle races may be faster). Nick won on the second race. I think the crab he picked may have actually been a rock. The first two races have some sort of odds system with everyone betting on the same crabs, but in the third race (which we left after) you pick a crab, pay 5 EC for it, name it, and if it makes it out of the ring first, you win 75% of the proceeds. Not a bad haul. Our crab Gigantor did not win, but it was fun.
Tuesday was Mom and Dad M.’s last day here, so we headed up to the Grand Etang park in hopes of seeing some Mona monkeys. The road is super windy (and narrow), so this time I took my dramamine early. On the way to the park we stopped at Annandale Falls to see the waterfall. There were some fall divers there, so we watched them dive before heading out. When I was here in April Nick took me to the falls and they were crystal clear. It’s rainy season now, so they were rushing and a bit cloudy/muddy. Grenada has similar red clay to Oklahoma, so the water looked a lot like you might expect to see at home.
Unfortunately, the monkeys were a bust. We had bought fruit that morning at a stand to take up to them, but we think the rain was keeping them secluded. We hiked in to the forest and down to a lake hoping to see them, but they were nowhere to be found. Funnily enough, we did run into Keyvon, who runs the fruit stand that Nick frequents, who was giving a tour to a woman visiting from England. We had driven by Keyvon’s stand location a couple of times in the past couple of days hoping to see him but neither he nor his stand were anywhere to be seen, and Nick had been getting worried about him. So it was a bit of a relief to run into him and find out he would be re-opening Friday. We ended up giving Keyvon and his friend a ride back down to the falls, then we drove back up past the park to coast road and followed it around the island.
Determined to give his parents a monkey experience, we drove way off the beaten path to a bed & breakfast/petting zoo owned by one of Nick’s hashing friends, Bruno. Bruno has a pet Mona monkey that he keeps on a leash and that sits on his shoulder, so he was our last hope. After getting lost a few times and having to drive on way unpaved back roads, we found his breathtaking place, but he wasn’t there. Even with the dramamine I was feeling a little woozy at this point, so we headed back to town. On the way back we heard from Dalton, who said that he was going to have his wife make us Oil Down and that we should come to his house that night to eat.
Around six, we headed up to Cliff Road to meet Dalton. There are no real addresses in Grenada, so he gave us a couple of landmarks to look for and said we could just ask for him if we got lost and people would be able to point us in the right direction. After one wrong turn a shopkeeper pointed us in the right direction and we found Dalton’s house.
Dalton and his wife Gemma were so hospitable. We met their son, who lives with his wife downstairs from them, and their teenage nephew who lives with them. Gemma served us heaping plates of Oil Down, and we sat with Dalton in the living room and visited and ate. Gemma’s Oil Down had coconut milk, oil, callaloo (a green), breadfruit (a starchy tuber-ish vegetable), figs (small, fibrous bananas that are really only good cooked), onions, garlic, salt fish, chicken and pig snout. Which, before you cringe, that was my favorite part of the dish. I think I may like it even more than pork belly. I will definitely be buying snout at the store.
When we were finished eating Nick and I visited with Dalton’s nephew, who had just moved last year from New York to Grenada, while Mom and Dad chatted with Gemma. We later found out that Dalton had called in sick to work (he told them he had a doctor coming to his house to see him, which was true) to stay home to get ready for our visit, so we gave him a ride back with us so that he could do a partial shift. We felt bad that he had done that, but it speaks to the hospitable nature of the locals. It was the perfect experience for Mom and Dad M. to have before heading back to the States.
Wednesday morning, after what felt like no time at all, we dropped Mom and Dad M. off at the airport. It was hard to see them go. We’re really on our own now, so this is finally real. On the upside, when they booked the room, they were running a “pay for five nights, get two free”, so Nick and I are staying there until Friday morning. Well, we’re spending the nights there, having free breakfast, then spending the day at home with the animals and running errands. It’s nice to be able to crank the AC full blast when we go to bed, something that we will not be able to do after this. So for the little while, we are living the life of a second honeymoon. So maybe things aren’t quite so real yet after all.