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  • Writer's pictureHummingbird Retreat

Reflections from the Retreat May 2024

One of the things I miss being here is not being able to spend time with close friends who live in the UK. So having the daughter of one of my closest friends come to stay was a special bonus. I first met Elizabeth when she was still at primary school and although I know her family well, I didn’t know Elizabeth as an adult and so it was good to get to know her.


Having a more youthful visitor, encouraged me to attend a youth event where numerous singers, actors, dancers and poets performed in an evening concert that lasted late into the night. Driving home at such time, gave us the rare opportunity to see my first ‘manicou’ or opossum which we spotted close to the garden, as we drove home.


We also helped with a Saturday afternoon children’s programme which made me realise I’m too old to work with kids anymore! They were very lively and boisterous but it was also an interesting experience seeing the low literacy level some of the children are struggling with. It was a helpful insight to see first-hand and to hear from their teachers about some of the behavioural difficulties and educational challenges they face, often related to difficulties in the home.


Elizabeth was keen to try some local food and so I learnt where the best place is to buy rotis in St Georges and what a roti double is! She enjoyed picking fruit straight from the tree and her visit coincided with the beginning of mango season. So we shared the delight of seeing mangos at the roadside, freshly fallen and free to take in abundance. We also enjoyed lunch at the Belmont estate and as part of their chocolate factory tour, she had a go at ‘walking the cocoa.’ This is the traditional way they still use to turn the chocolate beans in the sun to dry (see photo below). We later discovered that we had just missed the ‘Grenada football legends’ who visited the Belmont for a similar tour, after playing a match to celebrate 100 years of the Grenada Football Association.


I have decided to visit somewhere new, each time I have a visitor and as Elizabeth wanted to see a sunset we drove to the West coast one evening to see the sun set into the ocean. We visited the Edgecombe Hotel for a drink and checked out their beautiful infinity pools and restaurant. This old plantation house is set in the hills with beautiful gardens including a ‘spice trail’ and green parrots flying amongst the trees. It was a beautiful location to watch the sun go down and another place to add to my list of places to take future guests.


Elizabeth enjoys art and so it was nice to have a companion to share some art sessions together. I also valued trying out a few things with her, which I hope to offer to retreat guests such as an imagery exercise to reflect on her time here. It was also good to be able to suggest a few books for her to read and to easily find them in my newly established library.


It is warmer here than usual with an extra few degrees making a big difference and leading to an official heatwave being declared for the island. The temperature is usually about 30 degrees all the year around but at the moment it is about 34 degrees but feeling like 36. There is also a water shortage in the South and a ban on lighting fires due to the dry ground and shrubs, as we end dry season and wait for the rains of the wet season.


I will now hand over to Elizabeth to share her reflections on her time here –


The Caribbean has a special place in my heart as it literally is a part of who I am. I'm making it a personal mission of mine to be on at least one of the islands each year for the rest of my life, so when the opportunity to visit Hilary in Grenada came up I couldn't resist!


I came on holiday with a loose list of things I wanted to do such as go to the Belmont estate and Grand Anse. To that, Hilary added several suggestions like visiting the Annandale waterfall and Grand Etang. As much as I love being in the city, experiencing mind-blowing nature in real time was awesome! The island is rich with mountains, forests and amazing views. The fortunes of seeing Sandy and Green Island every day from Hilary’s veranda is a view I never tired of. Regular visits to the beach (Bathway and Levera being the closest) was definitely on my list of things to do as well!


My holiday also included a few personal surprise breakthroughs as my fear of dogs dramatically subsided, well at least with Grenadian strays as they keep a respectable distance unless you're willing to feed them, which I also did!


Between relaxing on the veranda and downing glasses of Gospo juice and Shandy, my volunteering on the retreat came in the form of painting one of the bedrooms and some clearing of the garden. This was my debut into the world of painting and decorating and it was stunningly obvious. Once I began to exert the energy to work I was suddenly sweating buckets that I did not sweat before (I usually only glow). However, I can now say I know how to efficiently paint walls so new life skills have been acquired! There was a real sense of achievement once we had finished painting and put the bed together, salute to Hilary for doing much of this alone! Also to all the other labourers I saw every day farming, building homes and so on. The heat was no joke!


Although my heritage doesn't lie on this beautiful rock I definitely felt a sense of home. Being able to stay in the countryside and the fortunes of Hilary being comfortable to drive all over meant I could be immersed into the everyday experiences and culture which to me makes a holiday worth it. She was a fantastic host and tour guide and the good vibes of Grenada are second to none.


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