Zickie and I knew that at some point we’d have to drag ourselves away from the seductive beaches of Grenada, and do some sight-seeing. Since the colors of the ocean had practically hynoptized us with their streaks of indigo and cerulean blue, it was no easy task to leave. But in the process we discovered St. George’s and the Carenage, a completely worthwhile place to spend time exploring.
St. George’s is Grenada's capital, on the southwestern coast of the Spice Island, not far north of Grande Anse beach. You’ll find the historical section of this town in the Carenage, its centuries-old port lined with quaint Georgian buildings. (“Georgian” architecture denotes the classical style built during the reign of one of England’s King Georges, including King George III, monarch during the American Revolution.)
The word “Carenage” originally comes from the French, who also took hold of this Caribbean island for a time, in a high-stakes game of tug-of-war with the British. The Carenage, or harbor, was where ships were brought to be cleaned and repaired. (Or “careened” over for this purpose.)
As history buffs, naturally, Zickie and I had to have a good look around, so we set off in our rental car from our hotel in Petit Calivigny. In just 15 short minutes, we’d crossed half Grenada and were parking just near the small, dark pink Fire Station and Police Station. We got out and took our umbrella, because sudden, short squalls were appearing from nowhere that day, followed by sunny skies.
We passed the Osprey Jetty, where the fast Osprey ferry departs for nearby isles of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. In the center of the Carenage, old British telephone boxes reminded us of a time before cell phones became ubiquitous. (Oh, those were the days!) A statue, Christ of the Deep, commemorated a ship fire that took place in the 1960s, not far from here. Apparently, Grenadians rallied to help rescue passengers from the Italian liner, with a flotilla of fishing boats and other boats of various sizes.
Hurricane Ivan had devastated St. George’s and the Carenage, so it was heartening to see many of the historic buildings renovated, with new paint and the old Georgian charm. Zickie and I discussed how wise Grenada had been to preserve these graceful beauties, now used as government offices, hardware stores, pharmacies, and even a fairly large grocery store. (We stopped in and bought some Caribbean treats: tamarind balls for Zickie and little pink-colored coconut candies for me. Delicious!)
It didn’t take long to walk the Carenage, but we ambled without any rush, saying hello to tourists and locals alike. (Grenadians are very courteous people, and appreciate a “Good morning” or “Good afternoon.” One man stopped to give us some directions, and spent a good 5 to 10 minutes explaining in thorough detail. So very kind.)
The sea water here -- in a working port -- looked completely clear! We saw tons of minnows along with reef fish such as sargeant majors with their distinctive yellow, black, and white stripes.
We noticed the Carenage was popular with boaters and cruisers, too: along the harbor wall there were tie-ups reserved specifically for dinghies!
Also lining the waterfront are restaurants and a few places to stop for a drink and snack. We had a terrific, authentic Grenadian lunch of "oil down" and crab back, then strolled down Matthew Street to a small museum and a little craft store called Tikal. The Roman Catholic church hovers over St. George's with a graceful dignity, and serves as a landmark to orient yourself when you start up the various narrow streets.
All in all, the visit did not take a lot of time, but rewarded us with a glimpse into Caribbean colonial history and an appreciation for the friendliness of the Grenadian people, the tastiness of their cuisine, and the laid-back pace of the country's beautiful capital city. Yes, we agreed, an absolutely must-do!
Stayed tuned for more news from Grenada, Island Runaway friends....