From St George’s we twisted and turned along the hilly western coast stopping at one point or aother where CB would relate a bit more of the island’s history. We had a personal tour of Nutmeg World, a centuries old nutmeg processing plant where every step in the process is hand operated – sorting and drying the nuts, separating good from bad, drying, husking, grinding, bagging – all of it. Men and women hustled back and forth across the floor like worker bees but stopping to smile as we passed. The tour was brief and rapid, so fast that my only chance for a photo was at the gift shop. I got the sense that the tours were aimed towards the giant cruise ships with their endless supply of free-spending tourists. A bit further on we stopped at an elementary school where CB relayed the day when Maurice Bishop was assassinated by Soviet militia because he was working to free the nation after his earlier misguided efforts allowing the Cuban communist rule.
We learned that CB had been employed by the Soviet regime and went into hiding after his boss told him something was brewing that would affect the island, its government, and possibly them. His boss left the island under cover of darkness and was never seen again. CB was later located and arrested by the intervening American forces when they realized where he worked. We listened to these tales in amazement, hearing them for the first time from a native’s vantage point. CB was later released after investigation revealed his innocence in all these matters. I asked him what was his and his countrymen’s attitude towards the US after all this happened. He told me we’d talk about that later.
We rode on past Grenada’s original airfield where we saw abandoned Cuban bombers and learned of Cuban soldiers giving up without a fight, , dropping their rifles, and raising their arms realizing they were outnumbered and outgunned.
We stopped at the Antoine River Rum Factory where I was allowed to sample their potent rum. I bought a bottle and later wished I hadn’t because it is so strong that one drink will knock you flat and leave you with a vicious headache.
We slowly ground our way up over the mountaintops stopping at several beautiful waterfalls along the way while CB continued the history of his island, his home for his entire life, his home through two revolutions.
Winding back down the mountains we came into a little village, and CB said “You remember asking me how we feel about the USA?” At that point we rounded a corner and came upon a huge brightly painted billboard on the side of a building proclaiming “Thank You USA!” CB said “That is how we all feel; you saved us.” What could we say? Perhaps we now understood why everyone was so friendly towards us.
We rode back towards Prickly Bay and CB pointed down through a valley and told us there lay his home town, the town of New Hampshire. Joy and I both laughed and said, “That is the name of our home state, where we grew up, met each other, and were married.” Perhaps just a little thing to share, a bit of family, being raised in a country town sharing the name of New Hampshire.
This trip had been wonderful for Joy and me. Not worried about driving or finding my way, I was able to look around as I pleased, take pictures whenever we wanted, and stop wherever. One stop after lunch had been the Grenada Chocolate Factory where we bought some of the best tasting chocolate in the world. Though we’d been on the road for eight hours, what a great day it had been. We’d learned more than I could have ever imagined, and we developed a new and deep friendship for this soft spoken man who so freely spoke of all that had happened to him and his country over his lifetime. We look forward to seeing CB when we return to the island in 2013.