Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Resort Living

I've been slacking on my posts, so this is REALLY backdated (like from October backdated) but unquestionably noteworthy. The Nichols came to Grenada! My mom (Cora), dad (Rob), brother (Renny), sister-in-law (Amber), niece (Teagan) and nephew (August) all came to visit our little island. Although we missed my oldest brother (Robby) and other sister-in-law (Inessa), we had such a great time!

Upon arrival my almost four year old niece informed me that she had to take two planes to visit "Auntie Steph's New House". On the first plane she had to remind the older man sitting next to her to buckle his seat belt; she is such a responsible little lady! Everyone arrived Wednesday night and were picked up by the resort shuttle. Grenada is very different from the United States, as I have said many times before. So when the driver of the shuttle started putting the kids' car seats into the trunk I wasn't surprised. We had to ask him if there were seat belts in the shuttle (luckily there were two) and installed them ourselves. Grenadian people don't consider safety measures the way Americans do; I've seen mothers driving with their children on their laps here, but keep in mind, it is illegal for men to drive without a shirt on! Luckily we didn't have to travel far that night; the resort is only a few miles away from the airport!

My family stayed at Spice Island Beach Resort; this little piece of paradise is absolutely stunning. The rooms are bigger than our dorm, very well air-conditioned and have sliding glass doors that open directly onto Grand Anse beach. James and I were thrilled that my parents also booked us a room so we could have a luxury staycation while they were here! All the beaches on Grenada are beautiful, however, Grand Anse is by far my favorite. The water is the perfect temperature, cool enough to be refreshing, but warm enough to be comfortable. Each afternoon, our entire family loaded up on sunscreen and floated in the vibrant turquoise color of the Caribbean. There are no waves on Grand Anse, which allowed Teagan and August to splash in the water without worry. August enjoyed being held and splashing people in the water, although he didn't like it too much when he accidentally splashed himself. Meanwhile, dare devil Teagan was swimming back and forth between all of us, wanting to swim farther and farther out. Luckily James and Renny are both excellent swimmers and could keep up with her!

Along with beach time and much needed relaxation, we went on a few site seeing expeditions, which were not so relaxing. I've mentioned before that driving in Grenada is crazy, and my family experienced that first hand. Renny drove, while the rest of us held on for dear life. James was navigating the map, my mom and dad were in the middle seat with Teagan and I was basically sitting on top of Amber in the squishy back seat with August. Luckily my mom couldn't see how dangerous the driving was from the middle seat or we would have heard a lot more shrieks of terror. Family road trips are always fun, right?

One adventure led us on a two hour drive to Belmont Estate. There, we saw how Grenadian organic dark chocolate is made. Because my family came to Grenada during the "off-season", meaning before the cruise ships start coming, we were the only people at the estate and were able to have a private tour. James and I had been to Belmont Estate before, and the tour guide actually remembered us and welcomed us back. The people truly are very nice on the Island of Spice! Along with the chocolate factory, Belmont Estate is also home to a few monkeys and parrots; I think Sparkles the monkey was Teagan's favorite part. At the end of the tour the guide handed out samples of dark chocolate and cocoa tea. August loved the chocolate and kept trying to reach for more. I think we have a chocoholic in the making!

Our second adventure to downtown St. George was a much easier drive. Although we still feared for our lives, we were only in the car for about fifteen minutes instead of two hours. The only way to get to downtown St. George from Grand Anse or True Blue Campus is to drive along the coast, by the marina, and then drive through a rather long tunnel. The tunnel is barely wide enough for a car, and also used as a pedestrian passage. While Renny was driving through the tunnel we all had to shout "watch that person" and "you're going to hit them", while the Grenadian people casually walked through the tunnel without a care in the world. This is what happens when LA drivers come to Grenada! We went into St. George to check out Fort George and the spice market. Fort George was constructed in the 18th century and is located on an elevated peninsula, originally used for defense. Today it is most well known for its role in Grenadian history as the site of the assassination of Maurice Bishop, along with several members of his cabinet. While walking up the huge hill to the fort, we were quickly joined by our new friend, Randy. Randy started telling us all about the fort, and history of Grenada. He was a wealth of knowledge and guided us through the fort. In Grenada, there is no charge for admission to most historical sites, however, usually someone guides you, and then asks for a tip. After the fort, we stopped by the spice market and saw what they had to offer. Every spice you could ever imagine is available here, and the aroma is amazing! 

After a few days, and a mini pre-birthday celebration for me, we were sad to see Renny, Amber and the kids leave. However, we were happy to have my parents stay on a little longer! As James went back to school, my mom, dad and I had a couple of our own adventures. One day, my parents wanted to see Annandale Falls and Grand Etang Lake. We looked at the map, and plotted our route, not knowing what lay ahead. We drove up through downtown St. George and kept on driving, after a good ten minutes, we realized that we had passed the turn off to head up the mountains. After turning around and discovering the missed road (located by the cricket stadium) we started our drive up the mountain and into the jungle of Grenada. It is amazing how quickly the air temperature cools down! After driving a while, we decided that we may have missed the turn off again. We may seem like terrible drivers, but it is difficult to navigate when there are no street signs, stop lights, or intersections. Most directions go something like this, and please imagine a Grenadian accent, "Miss, you see dat road ova there? You take dat road and follow it to da big palm tree, when you see da palm tree make a right, next you look for a man sitting on a rock. If he is not sitting on da rock, imagine a man sitting on da rock and turn left". Seriously, I once received these directions! 

Feeling completely lost, we decided to pull over and ask some workers, who were clearing the jungle back from the road, for directions. A worker, yielding a machete, came up to the car and started describing how to get to the falls. However, instead of giving us detailed directions, the worker decided to jump in the car and show us the way. Of course, this took us all by surprise, but he was in the car before we could protest! We learned his name was Sean, and Sean ended up being a great tour guide. Although Sean smelled heavily of Rum, and seemed a bit inebriated, he was very knowledgeable about the island and the tourist attractions. First, he took us to Annandale Falls. Annandale Falls were beautiful and lush with flowers and other jungle plants. My parents and I took a short five minute hike to the falls to find cliff divers, one of which was Sean's sister's boyfriend. We watched the divers, admired Annandale Falls' beauty, and then went on to Grand Etang to see the monkeys! When you step out of the car at Grand Etang, you are able to purchase some bananas to hand feed the monkeys. We only saw two, however when monkeys hear bus engines stop, they say about ten to fifteen come out of the jungle.  After feeding the monkeys, we enjoyed the view of Grand Etang Lake. Concluding our little tour Sean took us by his sister's spice shop, and then we dropped him back off. Grenadian people are so helpful and friendly, he didn't even ask for monetary compensation for his time, although we gave it to him anyway. The entire day was quite an adventure! 

My family's visit was so fun, but went by much too fast; It is truly amazing to have loved ones come visit! We miss them terribly while in Grenada, and can't wait to have them come back again!! We are looking forward to having James' mom and brother come in March, and my parents again in April! 

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