Wildlife wonder – Mangrove cuckoo
We saw this bird on the drive at the front of our house recently. It is a large bird and can grow to be about 30cms long. It has smart, white markings on its long, black tail and has a yellowy-coloured front. Its beak is slightly curved and it has big, bright eyes, encircled in yellow. Its favourite food includes caterpillars and grasshoppers, but it also eats spiders, snails, small lizards, bird eggs and fruit.
We live near some mangroves in the national park and so it is likely that it had flown over from there, which is its natural habitat. This is one of three cuckoo species in Grenada. Like other species of cuckoos, she will lay her eggs in other birds’ nests and leave the child-rearing to another bird.
Grenadian Gift – Hashing
Some of my local friends have been encouraging me to attend an island hash and with my first guests here, I managed to get to one. A hash happens every Saturday at a different location around the island and we went to one at nearby Trivoli. It is a large event with tourists, ex-pats and locals all getting together for a choice of three routes. There is the short walk of about 1-2 miles, a longer walk of about 2-4 miles and then, for the seriously fit, there is the 4-5 mile run. All these involve going up and down hills on small paths through bush and fruit trees. However, hashing is famous for the associated drinking that is part of the event and hashers have been described as ‘drinkers with a running problem.’ They traditionally begin and end near a rum bar and we saw a number of rum bottles being passed round the walkers! Food is provided after you have walked or run and the drinking and socializing continues into the evening.
Hashing was started in Kuala Lumpur in the 1930’s by British ex-pats. The name comes from The Hash House which was the nickname for their social club in Kuala Lumpur. The Hash House Harriers (or HHH) now has groups known as ‘kennels’ worldwide, including the UK.
The concept is that a ‘hare’ sets a trail for the others, known as the ‘hounds,’ to follow. In Grenada, it attracts up to 300 regular runners as well as walkers of all abilities including dog walkers and families. There are various traditions associated with hashing and serious hashers attend every week, gaining T-shirts to show milestone numbers of hashes they have achieved.
We decided to opt for the short walk and we followed the trail of piles of shredded paper along a path passing cocoa and nutmeg trees. We also passed a cute puppy who was trying to keep up with the runners and a few goats who were not happy that their quiet pasture had turned into a running circuit!
Reflections from the Retreat
I’ve had my first guests staying with me in Grenada and it’s been great having the opportunity to share my new home with others. Terry and Sue are friends from our church in Romford and they came to help with getting the house ready. The main focus has been decorating the room which will become the library. We chose a green colour to highlight the ceiling beams and which would match the curtains. We were pleased when the paint shop had the colours needed to create the right shade and was able to mix it up in their machine. We thought that this would be the most challenging thing to buy but then we discovered that they didn’t have any large tins of white emulsion paint in stock. Thankfully the supermarket sells paint and so we were able to buy the last, large tub of white paint in Grenville!
Another task that we have tackled is sorting out the washing machine that I had brought from the UK in the container. A friend here had plumbed it in for me and had reassured me that he didn’t think we needed to follow the manual and remove the shipping bolts. However as a result the machine has shaken violently the few times I have tried using it. The force of even the lowest spin pulled the water pipe out so that it flooded the room and the machine ‘walked’ off its platform, which we had created for it to reach the water supply. Having Terry and Sue here has helped with various little tasks and decisions around the house and together we removed the shipping bolts and repositioned the washing machine on its platform. It is such a relief after more than 2 months of being here, to be able to wash clothes without holding onto the machine while it shakes and not having to worry about flooding the laundry room!
As well as working, I have taken Terry and Sue to enjoy some local sites such as the River Antoine Rum Distillery, the Pearls airport, local beaches and the hash mentioned above. Being able to share these places with others is such a blessing and a taste of how life will be when the retreat house is fully functioning with regular guests.