Monday, April 30, 2012

Letting go of the fear

The idea of a life at sea is so compelling for me that I didn’t let my complete lack of experience stop me from barreling forward, tripping over my flippers to get here. But in the back of my mind, I knew that deep down it terrified me.
I do know that experience squelches fear and practice makes perfect, or at least calm. I am counting on this, and I know JW is doing the same, as he sees the noticeable tension across my face each time we decide to move.
I am at home when Shiloh is safely at anchor, all the moving over with, the GPS having given us the peace of mind that we are held in place, that the anchor is nestled snugly into the mud deep below us.
But I do not handle stress well when it comes to the boat. Our anchor has been giving trouble since we collected Shiloh from her charter company. When we’ve swung into a nice position in a bay, and JW calls out for me to drop, I begin with the remote and the anchor disappears into the water, the chain pummeling after it, heavy and loud and ominous. 
 And then when I let go, the chain doesn’t stop. I start imagining the chain flying so fast, pulling so hard that it will just fly off and we will be left without an anchor, the boat floating dangerously close to our neighbors in the new bay and with the knowledge we cannot actually anchor or stop anywhere. And then my heart races and my hands shake. I become useless as a first mate. All I want to do is jump up and down and cry or retreat below deck and bury my face in a pillow.  Anyone who sails, knows this is a completely irrational, unnecessary and counter-productive response. It simply doesn’t help. Neither does panic at the suggestion that we try out the new autopilot, since the memory is still strong, of how we reached out into heavy seas and the autopilot decided we should turn in jerky, bouncing, jarring circles. Sigh…
My mind plays tricks on me - it teases me with the worst case scenario - at any given moment we could end up beached on rocks, overturned or drifted out to sea with no instruments...
I believe this post is cathartic. Therapeutic. I’ve admitted my silly fears, in the hopes of killing them off one by one, so I can get on with enjoying not just the new bays, with their inviting patches of white beach and pretty ice blue reef patches, but the sailing as well. The amazing freedom of wind in your face, Shiloh the strong and brave vessel, carrying us along to somewhere new.
Each day a new lesson, a bit more experience, a feeling of belonging and purpose and each day the fear dissipates. That is the plan!
As I look around me, I see people of every description who embrace the beautiful, rewarding side of sailing. They are calm and confident and they face technical glitches with reason and logic and steady hands. It doesn't matter what size or age of the boat, if you have confidence, it is a beautiful thing.
Some Grenada boys heading out to sea
Sailors since birth - calm and at home on the ocean.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Two days of hashing

Let me take you on a journey - one written with a single hand (as the other one is injured as a direct result of the past two days of fun and struggle). This will therefore be a mostly photographic journey.

Friday was our virgin hash. The implications of this, known only to those in the hashing 'know', and will be revealed later in the post.

It started out like this:

Pretty sweet starting spot!  A motley crew of over 5o people headed up the side of this waterfall, and I noticed a proud Canadian flag hanging up on the left - wondered how anyone got to a position to hang it, but then was distracted by the mud and rocks and trees and hill in my way and had to focus on that.

We passed many hillside farms, and I noticed this lovely sign at the unmarked entrance to one farm:

Some of the farms were more friendly, and the trees proudly displayed their fruits. We saw avocados, passionfruit, breadfruit, mangoes, bananas and cocoa.

This is what our beloved chocolate looks like on a tree, many processes before becoming the bars we know and love!

This was a rum shop crawl though, and no sooner had we soaked in the fresh air of the hills, fell into some mud near the end that was knee deep and smelled quite organic, did we emerge to the road and the first bass pumping local rum shop!

Here I am, feet the thick grey shade of fresh mud, enjoying the first beer.
We carried on along the road and came across some cuties and cute houses, with locals either cheering us on or wondering what these weirdos were doing...

 At the end of the trail, we came back around to the lovely waterfall where some swam and oters had to try to remove a few layers of stinking mud from their shoes and legs...

Then finally, we came back to Mark's Rum Shop and the check in point for the ON AFTER. Food and some more beer!

But it was not over. The virgins were called to the circle and our certificates were presented, along with at least a case of beer as a welcoming shower. I was secretly not impressed, knowing the sticky hoppy ride home to follow!

Trying to look happy with our new certificates while beer dripped down our backs...
Loved the sign at Mark's Rum Shop - the venue for the after party.

Day 2 - the REAL Hash...

Well it turns out day one was a teaser, a namby pamby rum crawl, while day two turned out to be a hike - first all the way down a steep muddy, rainforest mountain, and then right back up it! Shiloh and the peaceful lapping of the ocean were far far away...

I have exactly zero photos of the trek as both hands were required - to hold vines and shield yourself from tree branches, and grasp at the clayish mud as you slid backwards down the hill into fellow hashers. Groaning, panting and many "I give up"'s were heard, but we all made it.

JW on the road for the last leg of the hike - paved and straight, it was heaven in concrete form.

The scene as we arrived back at the beautiful venue for the after party - at the northern tip of Grenada in the hills.

Amazing tree at the top.

Ok, it was all worth it for this view!
On the way back, we broke up the hour plus drive on narrow winding hilly roads, with a crazed driver, by visiting the Victoria food festival that happens in this sleepy little town once a  month.

One of the food vendors - notice the curried bull-pissle and read bull penis. I asked. I didn't try it.

The street scene at Victoria - what it doesn't depict, is the ear and heart crushing bass from the many speakers..
Another interesting menu from a local vendor.
 We tried a few fish cakes and walked the strip, but by then my hand was throbbing and my third finger (luckily on the right hand) was completely, and still is, immobile. I got a glass full of ice and was ready to head back -bus, dinghy, bed.

And so it came to be that I survived my first hash weekend. And here are my battle scars:

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Cult of Hash

We were ‘expats’ for over 10 years. It holds to reason that if you ever get ‘into hashing’ it will be during your stint as an expat. Afterall, hashing started out as a completely colonial endeavor, with British Colonial officers running and drinking beer and calling it a club in Malaysia all the way back to the 1930’s.
Ghana had a hash chapter – though I only knew this after witnessing a motley crew of local and expats in athletic gear, running past our little compound house alley during my volunteer days. I read their bright t-shirts and asked around. It was a running/drinking club called a hash. Oh, ok...
Never have been into running and I maintain I will only run if chased, and maybe not even then. So hashing has never been a club I sought out.
Then we came to the Caribbean and joined the loose subculture of ‘cruisers’ who float around the various bays of Grenada. And through the morning net announcements, we heard about the Inter-Caribbean hash event, spanning 5 days. It promised to be a great way to see the island – inland from our little bays – and get a bit of exercise. AND you didn’t have to run. There are everything from pansy trails to iron man ones. Great!

 We started our association with hashers the best way – at their after party on the first night. We are anchored off our favourite little island ‘Hog’ and the hash led the runners to our quaint beachfront. So the least we could do was hop in the dinghy and join the party.
I learned a lot more about the whole ‘hash thing’ at this event. The more I heard, the more it all reminded me of  a global cult where members had a secret connection, something that seems to bind them all. There are code words like “ON ON” and “ON IN” referring to the trails, and “ON ON ON” or “ON AFTER”, referring to the after parties.
Hashers have nicknames that they defend and cherish with a frightening passion. Some have these names displayed boldly around their necks in black and white beads. There is a hash master and there are hares (those who lead the trails),  and hounds, (who follow).
They call new hashers virgins, who must go through an initiation process that most likely involves being showered with beer.
There is something cute yet creepy about all this.
We met a Canadian from Edmonton who had flown in for the hash and she told us her hash name was Northern Exposure because she had pulled the pants of a hash master down, and the story went on... She explained that she and a few friends now base every holiday around global hashes. And they know that they will be welcomed, their ‘language’ will be understood and their hash names will be honoured.
All I wanted was a way to get some light exercise and a chance to see some of Grenada.
 By tonight, we’ll have completed our first hash and may or may not be covered in a sticky residue of barley and hops…
We will have seen the Annandale Falls and will have met some new friends for sure.
But will we be converted to the cult? On on to find out!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pass the rum and the spanner...

Not every day can be all sandy beaches and pina coladas. At least not with a fair share of boat troubles and technical glitches.
When we decided to pursue the ‘boat life’, I remember JW stating that what it’s all about is ‘fixing your boat in paradise’.
This morning began as many others, the sun peeking over the edge of the hatch above us, kissing us with a warm ‘good morning’. Friendly voices on the cruisers net, letting us know about the weather, the waves and the social events of the week.
Eventually we got out of bed, fired up the kettle and decided that today we’d head for Prickly Bay, as we’ve been invited to Peking Duck Grenada style over that way this evening.
No problem, after a makeshift breaky of whatever’s left in our galley (thawed bacon and Raisin Bran, UHT milk and a couple slices of stale bread) – we completed the moving checklist of hatch closing, dishes away etc. and revved up the engines.
The trip was peaceful – a cornucopia of blues spilling from above and below from the sky to the reefs on either side of us. The sun on our backs, we came round Prickly Point into the busy bay.
All no problem so far. Should have known.
We headed toward a mooring ball that we’d anchored near before. There it was bobbing all pink and chubby in the choppy little waves. We headed for it, swung around and once we had it on our port side (that’s the left J), JW called up for me to drop the anchor. I pressed the right button – the ‘down’ on the windlass remote control. And down it went, fast. But when I removed my finger, the chain kept flying down into the murky water below.
“I’m not doing that!” I shouted and JW spun round with a big “Sh*t!”.
When this happens, the first rule is to stay away from it completely or risk losing a limb. The chain weighs tons and when the momentum begins, it can’t be stopped by a fleshy little human hand or foot!
So luckily it didn’t break the rope at it’s end and fly off the boat completely (which would have left us without an anchor altogether).
But as we were now focused on the chain, pooled somewhere on the ocean floor underneath, we had drifted toward the mooring ball and our neighboring boat was waving his arms to let us know that we should get away from it ASAP!
We eventually got most of the chain back up, and hooked on the bridle (to keep us steady and pointing correctly – and not swinging into the nearby boats), and then it dawned on us that the chain might just be tangled around the base of the mooring ball. Which would not be good. At all.
Our neighbor seeing us just standing on the front of our boat, looking concerned, came by and asked if all was ok. He had a look at the windlass with JW to see if there was something wrong or loose on the clutch. We’re still not 100% sure it won’t happen again, the next time we anchor. Which incidentally will be tomorrow! That is, if we’re not stuck to a mooring….
JW donned his big new blue flippers and neon goggles and tipped into the water like an eager dolphin, to see if he could eyeball the chain. He couldn’t. Too murky. But he looked adorable in a slightly comical way. Unfortunately that won’t help tomorrow when we try to head out again.

So, at this stage I needed a beer, and we decided to head over to the beach we could see in the distance, just to walk along, unwind and have that beer!
But as we neared the beach and JW tried to tip up the dinghy motor, it became apparent it was going nowhere and we would most likely end up with the propeller deep in the sand and stuck in the mossy seagrass. He fiddled and we bobbed and the poor holiday makers trying to read their Kindles in peace and sip their rum punches with an unfettered view of the beach and bay beyond, were instead treated to our bouncing dinghy and frustrated fumbling. Two local guys, fixing a boat motor nearby noticed us and came wading in to help. As the one guy tinkered and banged and time lolled along like molasses, I realised there we were, standing on a pristine beach, palm trees swaying above us, sun glistening on the water. In paradise, fixing our boat.

Roti at Nimrod's Rum Shop

As promised - the roti post. I've been anxious to try an authentic Grenadian roti since we arrived here and it took us far too long. But thanks to the cruiser's net in the mornings, we found out that a local rum shop, (famous for capturing many cruisers on their way to town, who stop here innocently waiting for the bus, only to be lured in by the first rum and never reaching town), has roti specials on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And by name alone, I was enchanted. A guy named Nimrod's got to make a good roti.

We tied up our dinghy and ventured up the road and there was Nimrod's with a welcome sign. Despite an unexpected and not completely friendly blond who greeted us, we were led around to the kitchen and ordered two rotis - one beef, one chicken.

Margaret served us and she was a doll. Her house was next door and though she was elderly and has lived in Canada and the UK, she was born only a few doors away and has returned to the peacefulness of Grenada.

And then the roti came. And though I am biased as I have LOVED and been loyal to Bacchus roti shop back in Toronto for over 20 years, I had to admit, this was excellent. JW agreed - luckily they gave me my hot sauce on the side!

I'm on a mission now - an easy one for me - to find the best roti in the Caribbean. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Checklist for the practical cruiser

“Have you got the headlamp?”
“Yes, have you got the VHF radio?”
“Yep. You got the camera?”
“Affirmative. Have you got our waterproof phone?”
“Let me check. Yep. Is the mast light on?”
“Just doing that. Let’s turn the freezer off while we’re gone.”
Ok, and did you close all the windows? Hatches? Bring in the outdoor cushions and our shoes?
“Ok, done. Did you bring a towel in case we get soaked?”
Got it. Pull up the dinghy, let’s go.”

This is the routine each evening as we head out for one social event or another. I barely remember the days when we would be heading out in a car, not worried about rain or seaspray. Days where you didn’t need a radio in case your dinghy motor doesn’t start and you drift off somewhere… Days where you didn’t need to find a way to save some energy to give the batteries a break…
But those days didn’t allow for massive rainbows and black ominous storms so beautiful you can barely pry yourself away to get the camera out.

Those days didn’t include new adventures, to Nimrod’s roti shop for some local grub and a walk in the hills. But today includes that and I can’t wait. I think I’m salivating. We’re on our way now. Roti post to follow.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Cruising for a living

When we first decided that living on a boat was a great idea, I had no idea about what the life would involve. I had no idea that the group of people across the world who live like this call themselves cruisers.
For me, the term cruisers brings to mind swingers or ‘key parties’ or progressive dinners – either way it sounds like a suburban sub culture of bored middle aged married couples looking for some excitement.
The other common association with this word is people who make a lifestyle out of week long stints on the Princess, Royal Caribbean or Disney Cruiseliners. There are ‘cruisers’ websites dedicated to these people, who couldn’t be further from the ‘other cruisers’. The ones we find ourselves amongst.
But can I stereotype a cruiser? There are full time live aboards, the half timers who head back to the safety of land for the hurricane season, there are the rich cruisers, but surprisingly the most common are those on a budget. People ‘cruise’ on 68ft game fishing power boats, and 26ft Island Packets, and everything in-between.

There are Americans, South Africans, Norwegians, Canadians, Spanish, French – the list goes on.
There are retirees and families with small children who homeschool aboard, and there are the glamourous young couples like Taru and Alex (whose great blog is here). To put it simply, there are many types of cruisers.

But what I have realised, is that though this group of people is diverse, there is something profound that links everyone. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it is a love for life and adventure and the scary/exciting prospect of the unknown. There is an indescribably freedom in moving where the wind takes you and your small world comes with you. The sea is a dangerous, humbling beast and every seasoned cruiser knows that it is to be treated with respect and caution. Because the rewards of the journey are immense.
On the other hand there are the day to day life issues that cruisers face, that are bizarre and irrelevant to the land lubber.
At beach parties and in laundry queues at marinas, it’s always the same topics. Where can you buy duty free diesel, where can you get water/do you have a water maker/raincatcher? Dinghy motor problems, rust, wood rot and the issues with keeping teak and fiberglass in good condition. Bus trips into the markets for fruits and vegetables. Book trades. Gadget talk – radars, GPSs, autopilots, windlasses, anchors, wind reports, swell, new oil platforms to avoid.

It is a life that involves constant maintenance and then hours of waiting. Of nothing. Of reading or sewing or fixing. And then there are the hours of snorkeling and swimming and star gazing at night.
And in reigns me in, day by day, to it’s uniqueness and vastness. These days I’m proud to call myself a cruiser.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Busy Signal - Come Over - our Grenada serenade

Every day as we go about our onboard chores, tuned in on the local radio stations we hear it. As we walk past rum shops it calls out to us. The blinged out cars driving by broadcast it along with enough bass to rock your soul. As we buzz past marinas and beach bars in our dinghy, and mostly as we sway under the palm trees on Hog Island, this song serenades us. The lilting reggae sound, the sex-in-your-face lyrics, the Caribbean vibe... love it all. I spent the first couple of weeks here trying to remember enough of the lyrics to ask locals what the song was called and who sang it. 

This morning I found it - so happy about this! He is a local singer, based a couple kilometres from where we are. It has become our Grenada song, the song that marks the beginning of this new exciting, unknown life. And for that I just love it!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rainy Thursday

Half an hour ago I was on my feet, flittering between rooms to close the hatches against the downpour above. Warm water trickled down my face and arms. Now I lie dry and warm and cozy in our little cabin below.
It’s a Thursday morning. I know this because the Cruiser’s Net broadcast it on the VHF system a while ago. They also reminded me that it’s cooking class day at True Blue Bay in the afternoon. Nothing else is pressing.
Months ago on any given Thursday morning, I’d have been sitting at my desk, tackling hundreds of e-mails, fighting the incessant fires of accounting and service delivery problems, and planning to face the bumper to bumper, hot honking black fumes traffic of Accra.
Now, as the pitter patter of rain on the window hatch above reminds me of all that uncaptured water, I’m thinking we’ll need to measure for our makeshift rain catcher and head back to the hardware store at some point for a tarp.
Wondering how much bailing we’ll have to do if the dinghy is full of rain. Hoping with relative confidence, that the sun will come out with a force later to dry our towels and outdoor cushions.
All my thoughts converge and hover above me, but for now Shiloh lulls me with the gentle ocean waves and the sound of rain. It might be 9am by now. It might be later. Coffee can wait, the plans for the day can wait. For now my eyes are closing, JW lies beside me, his steady breath a familiar comfort. And I am savouring the moment. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Water water - learning how to conserve

We’ve been away from shore power and a water supply for three days. When we explained to some seasoned cruisers that we’ve used over 120 litres of fresh water in this time, they were horrified. They explained they use 400 litres in more than a month.
One of the many lessons we’re learning is how to conserve. To be conscious of exactly what we consume and just how precious and rare both power and water really are.
And we really thought we were ‘being good’. We have been showering off the back of the boat, first rinsing and lathering up with salt water, then rinsing off with the fresh water. I’ve been only washing dishes once a day and we’ve been washing just the clothes we wore the day before, each morning. This was apparently a big mistake. In hindsight, I’m sure that we’ve gone through 20 litres of water for each shower and another 20 for each clothes wash. Daily. At this rate, we’d never be able to stay away from shore, or be dependent on amenities on land for more than a couple weeks. Though we have two 400 litre tanks aboard Shiloh, and that seems like a lot, we will have to completely curtail our water usage.
It is wonderful to meet people who have been living aboard for years. I sometimes wish I could take out a pad and pen to capture all their knowledge. Last night, standing around with rum punches in hand, we got the insiders’ scoop about the importance of wind generators, about rigging up a tarp to catch rain water, and the need for large jerry cans, to gather water with the dinghy to avoid heading into a marina with the boat.
We also found out why all the cruisers make use of onshore laundry facilities – it doesn’t deplete your water supply!
It really brings to light just how many hundreds of litres of water we spill, waste, pour away every day on land!! It seems almost obscene from this perspective.
Water is a scarce commodity when at sea – I now truly understand the saying, “there’s water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.”

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sunday at Hog Island

Sand in my toes, sun in my eyes, I sit on a piece of driftwood, feeling the bass of the live soca band sounds, playing in the bamboo makeshift stage in front of us.
Various tourists, local rastas, long term cruisers and aged hippies sway to the music, beers or rum punches in hand. Children shriek and run about, kicking up sand and disrupting wafts of smoke from the dubious homemade cigarettes. Just behind us, the Sunday chicken dinner is being served up in huge tin bowls. Potato salad, mashed pumpkin, callalloo, barbequed chicken legs. It’s hot and the sounds and scents around us are overpowering. I’m in a trance.
Rogers Bar on Hog Island

People arrive by boat for the Sunday barbecue festivities

We’ve just made our first ocean journey from True Blue Bay, and Shiloh did well, despite some issues with the auto pilot and the many reefs we had to dodge to get into this bay. Shiloh is anchored out just beyond the island. Shining white in the sun. She’s easily the prettiest boat here, but then I’m biased. I keep worrying the anchor will slip and she’ll float backward to the reefs. It’s in my nature to worry about such things.
I turn to JW and shout over the music,
“Shiloh looks good here” but in my mind I’m watching the dirty ragged little boys run by, delighted with themselves and the day at the beach, and I’m thinking about our boy.
JW can’t hear me well. He squeezes my hand and says,
“He would have loved this life.”
And tears blur my eyes behind my fancy polarized lenses. We both can see him here in the sand, darting around, out in the waves, making fires back by the bushes with his friends.
I squeeze my eyes shut and feel the music. Shiloh is in it. He is there.
Later at night we sit aboard in the silence of the bay, I look up and a shooting star whizzes by. In the ocean of darkness and light above us, Shiloh has winked. He is playing among his friends and he does love this life.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Boat designer?

I wish I could design a boat. Let me clarify, by confirming that I know absolutely nothing about boat design. But thanks to my mom, I know a tiny bit about interior design.
I definitely know what doesn’t work when I see it.
Let me clarify further. Shiloh is a Lagoon 410. A beautiful boat, designed and hand crafted in France. She sails well and is quite spacious, all things considered.
My issues are purely in terms of living functionality.
In 2004, Lagoon designers thought it was a good idea to position the engine under the aft cabin beds. This means that if there is any trouble with an engine, everything in that cabin needs to be quickly evacuated. Clothes, bedsheets, pillows and mattresses. Yes, mattresses. Not easy nor user friendly.
This is our bed when the engine needs attention.

Mattresses tossed in the hallway
 A few years after our model was built, Lagoon came up with a brilliant idea. The engines were moved to the back of the boat, accessed through the sugar scoop steps. No need to move beds, no filling the sleeping cabins with diesel fumes and oil stains.
Ah, the genius. Wasn’t this an obvious? I truly believe boat design has been wrongly placed solely in the hands of men. This is just a wild guess. I’m allowed some of those.
Open any cupboard and see that the insides have been left as unfinished rough fiberglass. This is where you store clothing, food, valuables. Would a woman have approved that design? I think not.
But then I am a newbie, a landlubber just converted, a learner. I will try not to complain. I am living on the ocean in paradise and I don’t have a boss. I think I might work on some ideas to send to boat manufacturers…

Friday, April 13, 2012


As we do laundry at the marina, we watch other boats coming and going...

It’s been a week of firsts. Yet a week of longing for more. Despite all our hard work, new friendships, places visited and discovered, foods savoured, drinks sipped and sunshine soaked up – we still haven’t sailed. I know that we will have months and years of sailing ahead, but there comes a point, a day when you just feel like you haven’t really ‘joined the club’ til you’ve left the safe harbor and raised the sails.
We are contemplating at least leaving True Blue Bay and heading around the south of Grenada, past Prickly Bay to Hog Island. It promises less rolling waves, swimmable water and a little beach bar on the island to scoot over to, by dinghy of course.
JW has managed to get the newly installed radar system functional, we’ve treated the galley and saloon floor with teak oil, installed lights above the outdoor table near the nav station, and I have done some nesting. Managed to put up some bits of nautical artwork around the boat, and it’s feeling both like home, and ready to move.
A few Ghana masks have made it across with me!

A mosaic fish all the way from Hermanus flea market in South Africa now in Shiloh's master bath!

We’ve yet to hoist the sails and check out that everything is in order, but the clock is ticking closer!
Meanwhile we’ve settled into the ‘cruisers life’ here in Grenada, starting each day listening to the 7:30am broadcast of cruisers net –where you hear weather and wind info, social events, ‘treasures of the bilge’ classified ads, and info about local goods and services.
We’ve been to a Trivia night – arrived by dinghy after motoring directly through a mini rain storm in the bay – spent the evening dripping through our chairs. My team came in second and I was given our team prize – a bottle of questionably cloudy peach coloured rum punch. Haven’t ventured to test that out yet!
Serving up fried and battered plantain - Esther and Omega's class
 I attended a local cuisine cooking class, and learned that Grenadians like fried foods. Which was great because we got to taste the food and I was in the mood for some grease and carbs. We made fish cakes, battered plantain and sweet potato pone for dessert. Sat a bit heavy later!
The bicycles continue to serve us well, and have taken us on a south west tour of the island, from the University to the airport, to the 2mile long Grand Anse beach.
Basically, it’s been great, but we’re getting that nagging feeling – it’s time to move! Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Wherever I am living, one of the first things I seek out is the availability of chocolate. Over the past few years I’ve outgrown my love for commercial milk chocolate – of the sugar and wax tasting variety. I have discovered the complex flavour of dark chocolate. It goes so well with red wine! 

In Ghana, I indulged from time to time on Kingsbite, the local chocolate, and marveled that the majority of cocoa beans that left the shores, went out as just that – dried beans. All the processing and profits went into the factories in Europe.
So I was pleased to discover in Grenada that A) there is an abundance of rich dark chocolate, and B) that the entire process is completely organic and local, from cocoa pods, to commercial bars.  And the packaging is just so adorable. It is professional, yet screams homemade with love and care. AND it’s delicious.
You can read all about the completely organic ingredients and processes here. They even have a carbon neutral delivery system to the USA, using only sailboats!!!
Another local delicacy made with the cocoa beans, is hand rolled chocolate balls. They are infused with many herbs and spices from pimento to bay leaf. I bought a package at the Easter Bazaar and we tried two gorgeous cups of fresh Grenada cocoa the other morning. Simple to prepare – one ball per cup, boil in water until melted. Add milk and sugar or honey to taste.
It is like nothing I’ve had before. Though there are hints of chocolate, it is much more like a complex chai. It’s amazing. I’ll be gifting some of those on my next trip to Canada for sure.
Signing off for the day with a decision to make – keep my second bar of chocolate for another day or indulge now? I think the answer is brown. And rich.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

day 2

Reggae oldies blend into Calypso over the speakers as the baking hours lilt past.

Finally the live steel drum player arrives and assaults his instrument with his fresh energy. The throngs of brightly dressed tourists make their way between the stalls, selling everything from fresh nutmeg oil to cheese trays made from salvaged roof tiles. It’s the Easter bazaar at True Blue Bay, and as Shiloh is docked a few metres from all the activity, we feel a part of it all.
Our life for the first week into our ‘chosen lifestyle’ has been at once full of hectic manual labour and like living at the edge of a perpetual holiday. Both elements are so strong. We’ve been living off Carib beers (so good when the they are cold and the weather is HOT), and the patties Jamaica made famous. Yum. Of course I get the spicy ones and JW sticks to the mild.

We’ve acquired the bronzest of suntans without a minute on a lounge chair, just the necessities of crossing town in the middle of the day for marine supplies and groceries.
But the evenings allow us to join in the festivities at the Dodgy Dock bar – Latin night, wing night, Calypso night, happy hours, curry night etc., or just live vicariously through the smells and sounds that waft their way over to Shiloh’s deck.

I’ve been learning all about hand washing and dishes without a dishwasher. No microwave, no toaster, no motivation to cook gourmet meals in the heat and limited space. But we have eaten every day. And each night we fall into bed in the saloon in a satisfied heap of sun kissed exhaustion.

Who knows what next week will hold?