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  • Writer's pictureHummingbird Retreat

Reflections from the Retreat April 2024


This month my friends, Terry and Sue from our church in Romford, came to visit on a working holiday. The photo above is at the rum distillery where they were sampling the local rum. They were my first visitors when I moved here last year and so it was very encouraging that they wanted to come back to help again and to enjoy Grenada. We focused on decorating the rest of the guest apartment, having painted the living area and kitchen with our mutual friends, Karen and Clive. I was keen to get this painted because the bathroom was a strong apricot colour and the bedroom was blue and I was looking forward to crisp, clean white walls, which we now have.


The week before they came, I varnished the 8 new internal doors as well as the large apartment doors, which has given them a nice finish. I really value having visitors to help with other jobs that I can’t do on my own such as assembling furniture or putting up curtain rails. So with Terry and Sue here we have also managed to assemble the apartment’s sofa bed, set up the sofas in the main courtyard area and put up some curtain rails. While they were here the builder, Norris, came and did some work – filling in some wall cracks, putting in a new sink unit in one of the en-suites, doing some tiling and fixing a few leaks. It is so encouraging to see the work gradually taking shape and whenever we achieve a small part, there is a real sense of accomplishment and excitement as I see the vision taking shape before my eyes.


When I first came here, I remember writing in my second blog that this house reminded me of a person in therapy feeling broken and neglected but with potential that just needed some loving attention. I can now see that this house is getting stronger and there are parts, like the library, which are now complete and some of my local friends are keen to visit and start using it. Having had a year of visitors here, it has already become a place of hospitality and, once the jobs are done for the day, a place to be still, rest and enjoy the peace.


Having my first visitors return one year on has helped me to see how far I have progressed here, as well as seeing the progress in the house. I know my way around the island better now, whereas last year I got lost with them finding the local chocolate factory! I took them to the traditional Saraka festival when they first arrived to enjoy some African dancing and drumming, as well as free food available from over 40 homes in the village. Last year I remember going there alone and feeling like a tourist and this year we met up with some of my new friends and felt like a local.


I enjoy showing people around the island and it is an opportunity for me to visit new places too. As well as the local beaches, the rum distillery, the chocolate factory and Grand Anse, we found a new beach recently called Magazine Beach. This is very close to the airport and is a beautiful stretch of white sand and clear water, tucked away between two large resorts which we had to ourselves (see photo at the end).


Many of the houses in Bathway are owned by people overseas and so they sit empty for a lot of the year and quite a few have been for sale for a while. This month I have had new neighbours from Canada and the UK who have moved into 3 nearby houses, and so it has been good to meet them.


Another significant connection that I made this month was with some medical students from the international university, St Georges University. They were holding a health fair at the local primary school where people could come for free to have their blood pressure checked, BMI calculated, have an eye test done and so on. I visited because I was curious about what they were offering and we got talking about mental health needs, because they had wanted to offer something for this but weren’t sure what to do. This came a week after I met a psychology student from the university who is keen to raise awareness about mental health in this area. So the seeds of something seem to be growing and, as I seek to go with the Divine flow, I continue to be open to what comes and to trust that what is unfolding will grow at the right time.


I’ll now pass you over to Terry and Sue for their reflections.


It was lovely to return for our second visit to Grenada. We booked a night in the Bay House hotel, near the airport with Hilary collecting us the next day. There have been quite a few improvements at Hummingbird Retreat since we were last here, with each bedroom now having a ceiling fan, working lights, and new bathrooms. Even Hilary had some improvements in her flat including a new oven, no leaking pipes, and a toilet that flushes better!


We were sleeping in a large bedroom with an en-suite bathroom in the downstairs main part of the house. With mosquito mesh on the windows, this enabled us to have a breeze at night so that the room was cooler and comfortable. We were all able to have downtime space, especially as Sue had caught a shocker of a cold!


A difference from last time was Hilary had really found her feet. She cooked us some lovely meals with her new oven plus banana cake and flapjacks! Her driving was confident, now knowing her way around and driving more at night. She commented herself how she felt more confident and relaxed.


So we set about decorating the separate apartment – a large bedroom with a walk-in closet area, a small hallway and bathroom, as well as doing many other little jobs. The photos below show the decorating progress.




We had some new experiences this year such as the traditional Grenadian Saraka celebrations, dinner at Laura’s restaurant, reading and reflecting on a Psalm each morning together, playing Pickleball at a local club, visiting Magazine and BBC Beach and sampling 75% proof rum!


We are still amazed at the friendliness of the people, always a wave or a shake of the hand or even a hug from people you have met for the first time. You sense that people have a pride in their country here. In particular, this year is their 50th anniversary of independence, so everywhere you go you see things painted red, yellow and green – power poles, rocks, kerbs along the side of the road and fences and the national flag is flown everywhere.

It has been great to return to the Hummingbird Retreat, see the progress that has been made on the building and adding a little more to it in our time here. There’s still plenty to do but you just know that with Hilary’s vision, one day soon this will be a wonderful retreat.

 




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