Grenada: The minute you step outside the airplane, your face is literally slapped with a striking mixture of scents: nutmeg, ginger, a dash of chili, and something… something. You can’t put your finger on it (5 bucks says it’s cumin)– is there a restaurant nearby? Did the pilot rub your nose with a bag of spices that rendered you unconscious without your knowledge? Where is that smell coming from?
Welcome to Grenada. And the scent, my friend, is coming from everywhere.
Originally inhabited by the fierce Carib Indians, European colonization in Grenada was unsuccessful for almost a century thanks to Carib resistance. The French finally won them over, but it didn’t last long – hostilities broke out on both sides, and the French, having their own problems resisting the British over the ownership of the island, gave up and eventually sold it to the British in the Treaty of Versailles in 1783. The British established sugar plantations and imported large numbers of African slaves.
Grenada became a British Commonwealth in 1967 and acquired its independence in 1974. Attempts to set up a socialist state in 1979 were silenced by the notorious right-wing forces of the United States in 1983. This involved a bloody confrontation that brought the demise of Grenadines and Cubans alike.
Today, Grenada is independent and its economy relies mostly on tourism and the spice trade, using the East Caribbean Dollar (XCD) as its currency. Cloves, Cocoa, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cumin, Chili, Anise, Ginger; you name it, they’ve got it. Visitors can buy bags of spice from any vendor along the street and can also find them in any store they walk into. In Granada, spicy scents stick to your nostrils and become an everyday thing. Once you’re doped up with that comforting, cinnamon smell, anything will seem dandy.
Another Grenadine charm: its people. The Grenadines are perhaps the friendliest people in the Caribbean. Need a ride? Hop in. Hungry? Why wait? Lost? No problem. Grenadines are, in essence, charming (that’ll be the spices talking – look out, ladies!), humble, and eternally optimistic. Now, this is a very festive island: everyone dances until dawn to the beat of steel drum music, while intoxicated with the scent of vanilla, cumin and ginger… Heck, screw the beer! Who needs it?
Let’s not forget that Grenada is also a tropical island, which means: an excess of gorgeous, wildly green foliage? Check. Sandy beaches? Check. Hands-on, friendly service? Check. And check again, it’s all there! The poverty is apparent, but the Grenadines teach the consumer society about the happiness behind living a simple life. Cute, dark-skinned, barefoot kids run around the streets while run-down-fixed-up-magically-still-working cars pass by. All is well as long as the food is good and there’s spice in the air.