I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Up at 4:30am. UGH!

Joe, the great taxi driver, is picking me up at 5:30 to get me to the airport by 6 as I have an 8am flight.

I hate the check-in process and this time I have good reason; I just know my bag will be overweight. Sure enough, it's 6lbs over.  So I unlock it and pull out the zip lock bag full of toiletries.  The agent looks at me aghast. "Oh you can't take those on the plane, those are all liquids or aerosol."  "Yes I know," I say, "they are going in the garbage can."  "Oh!" she says, quite shocked.  Well, what else am I supposed to do?  My carry on bag is rather full and a couple of pairs of socks that I might be able to squash in there won't help the weight any!  It's still 3lbs over and she scowls and shakes her head so I take out a couple of things and jam them into my purse.  That gets it down to 52lbs, 2lbs over and she nods, much to my relief.  As I walk over to the trash to drop the bag of toiletries into it, I am wishing I had left them behind for the housekeeping staff.

It looks like today is going to be a sunny day on Grenada.  Rats. I wish this weather had happened yesterday. I was quite sad not to have a last swim and lie out in the hot sunshine.

My flights are somewhat uneventful except that, on the longest leg, I have a 300lb, 6'8" guy in a stained white t-shirt sitting in the seat in front of me and he puts the seat back in recline before we are even off the ground.  It stays that way the whole flight.  And every time I go into the pocket or even tap the back of his seat it with my foot when I cross my legs, he looks over his shoulder towards me.  What I'd like to do is ram my feet in the back of it over and over.  Why?  Well for one, he keeps pushing back in the seat like he wants it to go further back, and with his weight it does move back a few inches each time. For another he scratches the back of his head every 10 minutes and I get to watch dandruff drift down onto my tray. So gross! He also gets up at one point and stands fully on my foot, while I am sleeping, jarring me painfully awake.  I have an isle seat so that I can stretch my leg with the bad knee out to keep it from seizing up.  He doesn't even acknowledge that he did it, let alone apologize. The big lug.

On the last flight, there is an old couple beside me, both tiny and wiry.  They look like they used to be hippies back in the day.  They are from Colorado and are taking their first trip to BC.  They are very sweet but at one point she puts on these huge headphones, cranks her tunes on an iPod, and starts bopping about in her seat, right beside me.  So annoying.

I can't recall a time I have ever been happier to get off a plane.

I take the skytrain and then the Seabus back to Vancouver where my daughter meets me and drives me home.  It feels good to be back.

A few days later, I see my granddaughter and she loves the few things I bought for her; the Caribbean doll, the t-shirt, and a lovely illustrated children's book about kids in the Caribbean.

It is so great to see her again, I have missed her so so very much.  And she is very excited to see me. Ashleigh tells me that yesterday, she went to the door and stood there insisting that she go to 'Nan's'. She also tells me that Malia had talked frequently about me the past week so it was like she knew I was coming home when she stood at the door.  So cute! 

The whole nutmeg, bagged jerk seasoning, chocolate bars, and hot chocolate balls were a hit with Ashleigh as well.

Now to do about 5 loads of laundry.  Everything, worn or not, needs to go through the wash. The humidity of the Caribbean gets into everything and needs to be washed and dried out before putting things away.

Hmmm... maybe that is why my bags are always heavier coming back than going, even when I don't buy much and give lots away while gone.  And I always assumed it was the scales at the check in that were out!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Up too early again.

I see a cruise ship come in at about 7:30 am, the first one of the season.

First cruise ship of the season

It was raining when I first got up and for a while after but now it has stopped and started to look promising so off to the beach for one last day of sun, sand, and swimming.  I want to commit it all to memory today, all the senses, so that I can recall it in the coming days of winter back home.

Didn't look too promising when I first got up

I'm not there five minutes and it starts to rain, and rain hard.  I pull my lounge up under the tree, right to the trunk, and put a towel over my head and continue to read the book I am into, hoping it will pass soon. After 20 minutes or so, the rain starts to drip from the towel, which is soaked through, onto my Kindle so I give up.  I am walking to the Allemanda lobby with the towel over my head when I hear my name being called.  I look out from under the towel and see Amy and John sitting out of the rain at the restaurant by the pool so I go join them and we sit there for about two hours while we wait it out. We have a good conversation, getting to know more about each other. They both work for the post office, and that is where they met.  I tell them my dad used to work for the Royal Mail as well, when we lived in England.

Rotten rain, ruining my last day here

At 1:30, with no sign of the rain letting up, they decide to go to their room and I decide to have lunch at the restaurant. I order a pita wrap which is delicious and served with lovely crunchy fries - under $7 Canadian, a very good deal. I am the only person at the restaurant and have only seen one other group dining here the entire time I've been walking back and forth to the beach for the past 10 days. I don't know how they stay in business. The food is really good so maybe they will get busy once the season starts, next month.

After delaying as long as I possibly can, I finally walk back to my hotel in the drizzle carrying two very heavy, soaked through towels along with my usual bag of stuff. Exhausting!

When I get there, the cleaning staff is just finishing up and I call Alison over, the girl who was getting my room ready the day I arrived here. I thank her for everything and give her all the EC cash I have left (about $25 and change) and also give her the pop-up floaty I brought with me but didn't use - I will have NO room for that in my bag on the trip home. She says her daughter will love it. I can't believe she is a mom, I thought she was about 17 but turns out she's a lot older and married!  We hug and say good-bye and she says she is sad to see me go and hopes I come back one day.

Lovely Alison

There's nothing much to do but take a shower, and then lay on the bed and read till it is time to get ready for dinner.  It is dark by 6:30 when Amy and John pick me up in their rental jeep, and we head off to La Phare Bleu, about half an hour away, for the Friendship Table dinner.

There are more people at the dinner than last week. And tonight the meal will be served family style - bowls of steaming food to pass around.  When we are seated, a couple sit across from us and they have some other people with them. We introduce ourselves and they are Jana and Dieter.  We find out half way through the meal that they are the owners of Le Phare Bleu, which is more than just a restaurant, it is a gorgeous resort that they built from the ground up. They are originally from Switzerland and the rest of their group is family over for a visit.  She delights in telling us how, one Sunday a month, the resort holds what they call a Dinghy Concert, out in the bay, where the cruisers come in their dinghies, raft together, and live music is played by various musicians set up on a floating stage.  I have heard of these concerts from Mike Sweeny, who is a cruiser and spends summers in Grenada.  I've seen pictures of it on his blog and it looks like a lot of fun.  She gets her husband, Dieter, to put a CD of one of the concerts on the TV over the bar.  We watch and it really looks like a very good time.

The food tonight is Mexican and it is very good.  Jana tells us how they are losing their staff and some of their chefs to the new and huge Sandals resort that is almost completed, not far away.  She said it is proving to be a big issue for many of the more established resorts as they need so many staff at Sandals and are actively poaching all the hotels and resorts. She is worried that they won't be able to keep everything operating properly.  Again I think, if I was trained in hotel services, or bartending, I could get a job in a snap here.  But then again, I am really looking forward to getting home and seeing my family. I especially miss my little granddaughter. She has completely wrecked the whole notion of me ever living in the Caribbean, at least for more than a few months at a time.

Amy and John, my new beach friends

When we get back to my hotel, I say goodbye to my new friends and promise to keep in touch.  Once in my room, I set about getting the rest of my things packed up.  I just know I am going to have overweight luggage tomorrow and debate leaving most of my toiletries behind for either the maid to take or toss out. It's about $30 worth of stuff but if I am overweight, it will be $50 US. I decide to leave my shampoo and conditioner, a couple of other cheaper items, and put the rest into a large zip lock bag right at the top of my luggage.  That way, if I need to, I can get at it easily.

One thing I won't miss around here and that is the noisy people next door.  Seriously!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Up at 6am - another very short night.

I sat out on my balcony for a while reading a Dick Frances book I picked up at the Allemanda at their book swap shelf. Really good read!

My morning view

I've started to pack. Lawd my bag is so heavy already and I haven't put half of my clothes or any toiletries in there yet. Not good!!!!

I head down to the beach to spend some time reading on the sand.  I sit in direct sunlight for the first time and it is HOT!  I usually sit in the shade of a sea grape tree.

Another gorgeous day at the beach

I walk down to SAVVY for the chicken roti again but this time ask them for a bigger version of the small side salad I had last time - the nutmeg dressing is to die for.  After lunch I relax on a big circular lounger for a bit right outside the restaurant on the sand.  Heaven.

Lunch view at the SAVVY

I get back to my lounge chair at the Allemanda just in time for huge clouds to roll down off of the mountain and then rain!!

Here comes the clouds

And here is the rain

I wait it out in the lobby and then head over to the mall for some drinks then back to my hotel.

A rather uneventful day other than chatting with the couple on the beach again, Amy and John, and they offer to give me a lift to the friendship table dinner at Le Phare Bleu tomorrow night.  I was telling them about it and they want to go. It will be nice to finally go to dinner with someone.  It should be fun, and a nice way to end the trip.

Still full from lunch, I don't go out for dinner - rather I read and munch on some gingersnaps.

I found out from the front desk that my neighbours are Venezuelan. They are noisy again tonight, despite the manager asking them to keep it down.  I don't get to turn off the light till after 11.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Up at 6:30 - ugh, short night.

Yesterday Michael offered to take me to a different beach today, Morne Rouge. It is just over the hill from the end of Grand Anse but he picks me up at the hotel in the same friend's car as yesterday. There's lots of bread to be delivered in the car and I haven't had breakfast so the aroma is mouth watering.

It is so hot out today. We get to the beach and I walk the length of it looking for sea glass but there isn't even one piece. There are a few really nice small shells, however.

If I want a beach chair here, I will have to pay for it - $10 EC for the day. I decide to go to hotel on the beach, Kalinago Resort, for breakfast.  There's a lovely restaurant/bar right on the beach. There's no one there but one server. I order the potato waffle. I haven't had one of those ever so am intrigued. It comes with a plate of fruit to start. One of them is a guava. I haven't had that before either, and it's not bad. Sort of like a small pear with a lot of hard but edible seeds. When the potato waffle comes, it doesn't taste at all like I imagined, going off the long list of local spices listed on the menu that should be in it; it is rather bland. So I hit it with salt and pepper and ketchup.  Disappointing.

Nice beach bar for breakfast at Kalinago

Fruit plate with guava

Mike wants to leave the beach, he was hoping to meet up with some musician friends, he has brought his djembe in hopes of jamming with them, but they don't show up. I am fine with leaving as there's not much here but I know it is going to be a very hot walk back so buy a Ting for the trip.

I nearly die.

Ok, I nearly pass out. It is so incredibly hot and there's not much shade along the road. Getting to the beach nearly did me in but the walk on the sand to the Allemanda nearly killed me. SO SO hot and incredibly dificult to walk on the soft sand when this exhausted.  Why I don't stop for a swim - I just don't know really.  I think it is knowing my thighs will chap when wet, having to walk so far and also, I am really so exhausted from the heat, all I want to do is collapse onto a lounge. When we get to the Allemanda, it takes me 20 minutes of sitting in the shade, unable to even speak, to recover.

Cool cabin on the way back

Gorgeous view down to Grand Anse from up here

Caribbean colours at The Flamboyant

It suddenly begins to storm, starting with waves coming in on the beach getting bigger and bigger each passing minute until they are much bigger than usual. The rain starts and comes down hard so we take shelter at Ali Baba restaurant at the Allemanda for a drink and I order us some hummus. Mike talks a lot about his friendship and relationship with Rick.

The rain finally stops so we go back to the beach and in for a swim. The water is so incredibly warm!

It starts to look like rain again and, sure enough, starts while we pack up. I decide to stay at the Allemanda in the lobby and read for a bit until it lets up. Mike wants to go so we say goodbye and I, knowing I won't see him again, feel a little sad.

Bye, Mike

After a bit, I walk to my hotel in drizzling rain. Something is going on again at the grounds by the roundabout and this time it is all kids in school uniforms and there is very loud Caribbean music. Really loud. I can even hear it from my hotel room.

I change, freshen up, and walk back to the mall to get some Ting. I've been out of something to drink for two days. There is actually a traffic jam on the road because they've make the beach side a one way while this thing is going on at the grounds.

I buy some bubble wrap to protect some stuff I have bought to take back. Note to self: next trip, PACK SOME!! As if I don't have enough of it at home - sheesh!

Christmas has, apparently, arrived at the mall

I call Joe, the taxi driver that Mike Sweeney recommended, to take me to Prickly Bay Marina for dinner - I must have pizza there one last time. It takes several tries to connect - I can hear the line is live but he never replies to me. A ride there with him is $70 EC return. Seems steep but it's worth it for the peace of mind as he is so professional.

No one I know is at Prickly but I get talking to a guy beside me at the bar, Joe from Maine originally but now he lives on St.Thomas yet is in Grenada indefinitely on his boat. He is a very young self-made millionaire - bought and sold marinas. I have a nice time chatting with him and watching the boating crowd. A bit more upscale than the Hog Island crowd, but still not my scene.

The sunset is spectacular.

Joe from Maine

With Joe from Maine

Gorgeous sunset over Prickly Bay

I am back at my hotel by 9:00 to loud and inconsiderate Italian (or whatever) neighbours.

I want to go over there and scream at them.  My British reserve and/or Canadian politeness keeps me in my room.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Up early again, went down to the restaurant and had the apple fritters.  Not what I expected but they were very good.  Not sure what I expected, really, as I haven't had fritters before.

Apple fritters

I walked over to the Allemanda to the beach and this time I spoke to the couple that have been there every day.  Turns out they are from England, although she is originally from Grenada. They have travelled all over the world and they come here every year.  They tell me, once they find out I am from British Columbia, that their trip through Alberta and B.C. was the best holiday they have ever had. Given how many places they've been to, that is saying something!

I ask them if I can leave my beach bag in their safe-keeping and then walk down the beach, back to find more beach glass and I get another nice haul.  It's a gorgeous day and I stop along the way to swim in the beautiful clear water.  Nothing but sand on the bottom and it's glorious. I love how so many local people come down here on the weekend to enjoy the water too. You don't see a lot of that in the BVI - I even met some locals there who hadn't been to the beach in two or three years.  Boggles my mind. Here, at least this time of year, there are more locals than tourists.

Today's glass haul

I just nicely get back to my chair when Michael shows up, thinking I am some other woman he met on the beach yesterday. There is some confusion with this as I do know him from when I met him with Rick and we had pizza and burgers together at Prickly Bay but at first I didn't realize who he was because he was wearing sunglasses.  I got him to take them off then I recognized him and told him I wasn't who he thought I was but we had met. He was embarrassed at his mistake but I laughed it off; no big deal.

Michael, surprisingly shy for the camera

He offers to take me over to the dock to be picked up by Rick for the BBQ at Rogers on Hog Island. I accept and, after hanging out on the beach a bit, he makes a call and we head off to his friend's car.  His friend delivers bread for a local bakery and has some in the vehicle and it smells divine.

Waiting at the dock for Rick to pick us up

Black sand beach, lots of garbage... we waited quite a while for
Rick and I was wishing I had a garbage bag

This time, for the meal, I ask for it without the meat as the chicken is all legs and I prefer white meat. Roger's wife heaps the plate with her fabulous potato salad and charges me $5 less.  It is delicious!! However, my afternoon at Rogers decides it for me.  Not to offend anybody, but this is just far too strange a crowd for my tastes and there's lots of locals there today and they are definitely keeping to themselves so it doesn't make for a good atmosphere. I really anticipated that the cruising crowd here would be the same sort of bunch you find cruising in BC waters but they're nothing alike. It seems to me that those who really cruise have left for the northern islands already and these guys are the ones who never actually get out and sail. They're not very friendly to strangers either. I try to say hi and talk to a few but they'd rather go back and talk to the people they know. Even the ones who come and sit down at our table to talk to Rick completely ignore me.

Rogers Bar

Capt. Rick and Lucky - who I find out is a girl after 
thinking she was a he for 10 days!

I leave with Mike before dark as he isn't into it either, and catch a ride back with the same friend. I give him $20 for gas.

I get back to my hotel room to discover that a bunch of very loud Italians have moved in to the room next to me. It sounds like at least half a dozen of them.  I can hear every word, bump and scrape.  I have four more nights here. If these guys are here for the entire time, I think I might go insane. The lovely peace of this place has been completely shattered.

There's no way I can sleep while they are up so I don't get to turn out the light until well after midnight.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


I have been using the aloe vera before bed and it is amazing to wake up and see that the blisters from the night before are no longer there.  Amazing. The downside is, I go to bed every night smelling like the most disgusting curry dish.

I'm up early and farting about on the computer when I suddenly realize that it is Saturday and I have to be down at reception to meet my tour bus at 8:30 to go to the market.  I scramble to get ready and make it down there with a few minutes to spare.

When the van arrives, it is a different driver/guide than a few days ago and also a much bigger van - almost a small bus and it is not full so I climb in the back, get seated, say hi to everyone and then realize that one of the couples from the tour I took two days ago is across the aisle from me. We laugh and are happy to see each other.

We head to Fort George, up high on a hill overlooking the Carenage.  I thought we were just going to the market, I didn't realize this tour included the fort. Bonus!!

The sky is thick with clouds and just as we arrive at the fort and get out of the van, it starts to drizzle. We climb some well worn stone steps up to the fort. The view from up here is amazing and I am loving that the ruins of the fort have been left alone - original doors are laying where they fell off of their hinges, worn shutters still hang precariously at the windows.

View down into the town where you can see roofs
still missing from Hurricane Ivan's fury in 2004

Here you can see the church that was devastated in the hurricane
still stands, in ruins.

In September of 2004, Hurricane Ivan swept the Caribbean taking 80 per cent of Grenada’s infrastructure with it and devastating the spice and tourist industries.  It killed 39 of the tiny nation’s 103,000 people and left 90 per cent of the nation’s 28,000 houses in shambles.  Most of the nutmeg trees which made Grenada the world’s second-largest producer, were uprooted by Ivan.            Read more HERE.

Fort George

The Cannons of Fort George

The wall where Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and 16 of
his cabinet were lined up and assassinated

Part of the fort is now used as the police academy and a class is in session while we are there.

The rain stops during our tour, thankfully, and we head back down to the van to continue on to the market.

We park in the cruise ship terminal lot, there are no cruise ships in yet as the season has not started, and we are left to wander on our own and are instructed to be back in 90 minutes or the van will leave without us.  We all check our phones for the time, I set the alarm on mine for 80 minutes from now, and head off to explore. The couple I know asked if I wanted to go with them and I gratefully accept. We head into the cruise ship terminal where there are several shops that cater to the cruisers. We check them out and then head outside where the market is set up just across the street.  We stand at the traffic light, waiting for it to change and talking about which direction we will head in first, as the market is spread out over several streets, when a local guy walks up to us and asks if we've been to the market before. We say no and he says he will give us the tour and so we follow him as he leads us into the crowd.

Our impromptu guide to the market, in the white hat 
(I never got his name)

Locally grown bounty in the outdoor stalls

Local manufactured and processed goods in the indoor stalls

Coconuts sold by the 'stick' :-)

This place just reeked to high heaven

Loved this sign at the fish market

And across the street from the fish market... 
really REALLY fresh meat

Just outside the cruise ship terminal

I buy a few small things here; some turmeric powder, some cocoa balls to make hot chocolate the way they do it here, a magnet to add to my travel magnet collection on my fridge, a calabash bowl. Everything is so cheap! And I would love to try some locally prepared food but no one else is hungry so we pass the tempting aromas by. It is interesting to note that there are very few tourists at this market, today at least; it is all islanders shopping their weekly grocery list.

We give our guide a few dollars each for giving us the tour and head back to the terminal to check out the stores there again for things the market did not have. I buy a t-shirt for myself and then wander about and discover a Columbian Emeralds store. Oh-oh!  

Let me explain:

When I was in the BVI in 2011, there was a Columbian Emeralds store in Road Town and they had a little display in a window over in Long Bay at the resort. There was a necklace in that display that I just loved, a small diamond covered palm tree. The price was $499 US and I agonized for a few days whether or not to splurge on it for myself and finally decided not to.  Once I got home, I thought about that necklace frequently and wished I had bought it. I even called my brother in law, a jeweller here in Vancouver, to see if he could either get me one like it or manufacture one for me. He couldn't find one and the cost to make it would have been way more than buying the one at CE so I never got one. Now, here I am, and there is the store.

I go inside and ask about the palm tree necklace. She shows me one but it isn't it - this one is more stylized and has fewer diamonds overall but three larger ones for coconuts. The other one didn't have coconuts. It is $100 less than the one I want.  I describe the other one to her and she knows the one I mean and says that they only have it in yellow gold with emeralds and gets it for me but I know that I don't want that one, I want the one with white gold and the diamonds. I hem and haw and finally decide to get this other diamond one. It isn't the one I really wanted but it's cute and it's a palm tree in white gold so... I put it on my credit card. It's a bit of an ordeal buying it because in order to get it tax free, I have to produce my passport, my return airline ticket and I don't have either with me. I end up giving her my airline and flight date and time and she works with that. I am anxiously watching the time but get out of there just in time to not be left behind by the van.  In fact, two guys are about 5 minutes late and we wait for them so I needn't have worried so much.

Downtown St. George

Downtown St. George

Urban housing - doing the laundry

We stop in at Port Louis Marina on our way back. Not sure why. We are supposed to be stopping by a local craft mall but I guess we are doing this instead. I have already been here on Rick's boat so there's nothing for me to see, thus I head to the bar and order a Ting - I am hot and very thirsty. The couple I've been with most of the day join me and we have a nice relaxing half hour together with our driver. 

GO is still docked at Port Louis Marina

I am back in my hotel room by lunch time so I change and head down to the beach and to SAVVY for lunch. I order their chicken roti that comes with an actual salad, albeit on the small side, with nutmeg dressing that is amazing. The meal is very tasty.

The staff here mistake me for a guest and so I am handed two beach towels by a fellow, one for me and one for my husband.  I don't bother to correct him and move outside to sit on one of the lounges for a bit. I want to go in for a swim, once I get too hot, but the waves here are so rough that I decide to walk down to the Allemanda and swim and sit there.

Pretty sunset - time to head back to my hotel

I head back to my hotel and as I do, who should pull up along-side me but, yep, Tom the taxi driver. I ask him if he is stalking me and he seems taken aback and emphatically declares 'no!'.  Good. He asks me what I am doing tonight and I honestly answer that I don't know - maybe look at a new restaurant. We chat briefly and he drives off without asking me out, which is a relief.

I stop by the pool to sit with my feet in it for a bit. I decide it is too much hassle to go out tonight - taxi etc. I really wish I felt safer walking the roads, then I'd go to Umbrella's for dinner but it's not just people I am afraid of - actually it isn't EVEN people I am afraid of, it's the darn crabs that populate the edge of the roads. I was told they walk all over the road at night in the dark and I have seen evidence of that in the morning - flattened crabs.  I don't want to risk being surrounded by them in the dark!

When I get to my room, I remember I have nothing left in the fridge to drink.  Rats!

All photographs are mine and not to be copied without express permission from me (click on them to see the large version).
Some names have been changed to protect my butt.

Search My Blog

Amazon Store

Here's my Amazon Store called Sandra's Selections, full of my favourite things and constantly updating it as I discover more fav's. It's more for fun than anything as I've never made a cent off of it.