After getting anchored at scenic Prickly Bay, we decided to explore the main town of St. George's. This involves a dingy ride to a restaurant called de Big Fish, then a short walk past the Spice Island Boatyard and down to the roundabout where you pick up a local #1 bus which heads into town. Local buses are privately owned in Grenada and are very entrepreneurial. If you are walking anywhere near the road they will give you a shout out. If they are going the other way they will turn around. It’s a highly efficient system that works well in practice and costs only 93 cents.The only downside, the driver gets to chose the music, and the speakers are big and loud.
|St. George's climbs up the hillside to several churches.|
|A wide variety of strange things can be bought at the market according to this little boy.|
St. George's, the main city in Grenada, clings to a steep hillside and spills down to several small lagoons along the seaside. We visited on a Saturday, Market Day, so the streets were full of locals searching for bargains at the various stalls. We’re always amazed at the variety of goods offered for sale and the throngs of people filling the streets. Many Grenadian's get their clothes, shoes, food, and a plethora of other goods from street vendors.
|Grenada Chocolate, the creation of the late Mott Green.|
While walking along the waterfront we happened along a small shop selling the famous Grenada
chocolate. It’s an interesting story of an eclectic American student, Mott Green, who dropped out of Penn State in his senior year and became a squatter in Philadelphia. He was well known for his ability to tap into the power grid to illegally power the squatter’s houses. He eventually ended up in Grenada where he organized the local farmers to process their cocoa. He wired the entire factory with solar (using his previous electrical skills) and slept in a small one room house even as the company gained international recognition for its chocolate. Sadly he recently died at age 47 from electrocution while doing some wiring.
|Fort St. George's, made famous in the Clint Eastwood film "Heartbreak Ridge."|
|"Oh mon, God will tell you how much to donate for my fee."|
We continued south along the waterfront and began climbing a steep hill up to Fort St. George, an ancient French fort that dominates the town. This is the fort made famous by the US invasion of Grenada in 1983 and later in the Clint Eastwood film, Heartbreak Ridge. As we labored up the hill under the burning sun a local guide approached us. “How much does a tour cost.” “Oh, mon, God will tell you how much to donate for my fee.” The tour was interesting and highlighted damage from Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and more importantly, the location of the mass execution of the then Prime Minister of Grenada, Maurice Bishop and 12 members of his cabinet in 1979.
The short version was that after Grenada gained independence in 1974, a new Prime Minister, Eric Gary, attracted investment capital from around the world to begin a massive redevelopment (the result of unrepaired damage from Hurricane Janet in 1955). Gary had a very authoritarian style that wasn’t popular with the people and his administration was rife with corruption and nepotism. As a result he was overthrown by a popular lawyer, Maurice Bishop. Bishop, who was described to us by locals as a good guy, unfortunately surrounded himself with Cuban advisors who encouraged him to build the strategically important Salinas airport (with a huge, oversized fuel depot more suited to a military airport, thereby raising suspicions of the locals as to its real intent.) The Cubans brought in Russian advisors and Cuban troops began showing up on the island. A rumor was that 10,000 Soviet troops where scheduled to arrive. The Cubans and Soviets were strongly disliked by the locals, who rebelled and imprisoned Bishop and his cabinet.
|Passageway to cell that held cabinet ministers.|
|Cell in Fort St. George's where cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop, spent their last days.|
|A brass plaque stands as remembrance at the site of the killings of the Grenadian cabinet and Prime Minister.|
At one point locals took Bishop out of his cell, and along with his cabinet, lined them up along a wall of the Fort St. George and shot them. As you can imagine, the potential of Soviet troops and missile emplacements in the strategic Grenada area gave President Regan apoplexy, and in 1983, under the pretense of “rescuing the American medical students at St. George's Medical School,” (who didn’t need to be rescued), Regan sent in the Marines who routed the Cubans after a few days of fighting. The US then supported a more conservative government and as a result, Grenada seems to be one of the few foreign countries that welcomes Americans with open arms.
|The Carenage, the fishing and commercial port of St. Georges.|
After the tour of the fort, and in between sporadic rain showers, we continued walking along the waterfront. There are two lagoons in St. George's, the main fishing and commercial port called the Carenage and the swankier Port Louis Marina port.
|The Port St. Louis Marina.|
At one point we stopped to listen to a local guy in front of a bar playing a single steel pan drum, who was very good. We really want to find a festival or such to listen to steel pan bands, some of the best in the world are from Grenada and Trinidad.
After walking some more along the waterfront we finally gave in and caught one of the ubiquitous mini-buses back to our dingy at de Big Fish. It had been a long, hot day and we were ready for a nap.