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June 9, 2010 / ebretzel

A visit to the Seven Sisters

Apparently I’ve taken a hiatus from blogging but I’m back and faithfully finishing up my Caribbean cruise saga while I’m at home sick tonight. The last time I wrote we were exploring the rainforests of Dominica. The next morning we awoke to the white sands of Grenada. We had planned an excursion to the Seven Sisters waterfalls, which is a series of 7 waterfalls that fall consecutively into 7 pools. Since there were so many people on our tour they grabbed a local guide to take 5 of us on our own.

Our group consisted of ourselves, a middle aged couple from the South and a guy about our age named Andy from England. Andy worked on the ship as a concierge and as a perk was able to go on any excursions when he had free time. Coincidentally, our tour guide Michael also used to work on a cruise ship and the two of them had an extended conversation about their experiences and also about their favorite soccer players.

The bus hauled us up the hillside to a small shack where we got to choose a walking stick for the trek down to the falls. Right away we could see that the Grenada landscape differed from Dominica in that it seemed to have much denser vegetation, and lacked the giant trees and rugged cliffs. (again, judging only from the small portion that we saw) As we made our way down the hillside we passed open farm areas where men with machete’s were clearing brush. Our guide, Michael, pointed out different trees and plants that were growing along the way. Grenada is known as the Spice Island and are the worlds second largest producer of nutmeg, along with other spices.

I was delighted to find out that Grenada also has monkeys on it’s island! We were treated to a monkey sighting later on, they were just hanging out lazily on the trees. The tour guides tried throwing bananas at them to lure them closer but I guess they weren’t hungry. As we continued on, the open farmlands gave way to big rocks surrounded by giant, creaking bamboo (those walking sticks were coming in handy now). Normally, due to the intense rainfalls, the path is covered in mud making it very slippery, but since they had been having a dry spell we didn’t have to worry about that.

Finally we made it to the pool! Sadly, even though we didn’t pass many people on the trail, the pool was jam packed with greasy tourists. It was kind of amazing, really, how many people were there. We could only see the bottom 2 falls, in order to get up to the others we would have had to climb straight up a cliff. Michael told us that it would take much longer than our excursion allowed.

Pedro the Pup

We watched the other tourists for a bit and then jumped in ourselves into the icy pool. I found a stray dog that I really wanted to adopt. He kept following us around and was so sweet!

We weren’t quite ready to end our trip after the hike so our tour guide set us up with some friends of his who owned a restaurant called “Surprise Restaurant” where he took the five of us to sample their national dish called “Oildown.” In Grenada they speak English, but when they talk to other natives the accent is so strange that it sounds like a completely different language. After hearing Michael speaking to his friend on the phone about the Oildown our friend Andy asked him what language that was and he replied “broken English.”

We got our own private, driving tour of the city on the way to Surprise Restaurant. Michael pointed out the Prime Minister’s mansion, which was all but hidden by it’s illustrious garden, and a mansion that used to belong to the General but which was destroyed in a hurricane a few years ago. It will eventually be fixed, he explained, but they just didn’t have money to do it yet. The same story was true for many of the houses that we saw along the way.

Finally we arrived at the restaurant, which was open just for us. Oildown is made with Breadfruit, which grows on the breadfruit tree. In the late 18th Century it was grown to feed to slaves, since it was cheap and plentiful. It has a similar consistency and taste to potatoes, but when ripe becomes sweet and can be eaten with other fruits.

Ryan eating Oildown

The Oildown was fantastic. The breadfruit was mixed with plantains, chicken or pork, and a delicious saffron, curry sauce. I’m so glad we went out of our way to try it.

Our last stop was at a crystal clear beach with the softest white sand we had ever seen. If I were to go back to any of the islands we visited for the beach I would go back to Grenada. Seriously amazing. A man was floating in the water renting banana-shaped rafts and wearing a Vikings jersey! We told him we were from Minnesota and he told us how much he loved Adrian Peterson.

Meanwhile, our ship had been calling Michael wondering where we had been since our excursion was taking much longer than scheduled. He told us he was sorry but we had to cut our beach visit short and book it back to the ship. Fortunately, since it was as scheduled excursion they were responsible for us so we didn’t really worry about the ship sailing without us. Andy told us that as a crew member they were usually supposed to be back at least 30 minutes before boarding time, but he couldn’t get in trouble if the excursion was late.

That night was Hawaiian night on the ship so they had a smorgasbord of goofy carved fruit sculptures for us to eat and a steel drum band. After we all threw streamers in the air and a dance party ensued on deck, we hung out by the other pool and watched the Best of Beyonce on the big screen.

Next Up, Bonaire!

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