This week’s blog has been written jointly with my guests, Terry and Sue Hollick (in the photo below). They have been a fantastic help in decorating the library and doing various other jobs with me around the house.
Wildlife wonders- Bananaquit
These cute little birds are frequently seen around the retreat house. They are friendly and curious and they reminded us of the UK robin in terms of their characters. They sometimes fly into the house via the courtyard and have been known to have a sneaky drink from the leaking tap just inside the house, by the side door. One also hopped into the garage to watch Terry saw some wood and stayed to keep him company for a while.
They are about 12cms in length and are easy to spot with their bright yellow front and white markings on their head. They have the nickname of ‘sweet bird’ because they have a sweet tooth and they enjoy eating nectar from flowers and eating fruit. Their name derives from their love of bananas and I often see them on the banana trees in the garden.
Grenadian gifts – Overall impression of Grenada
Terry reflected on his overall impressions of Grenada. He was surprised about how green everywhere looked despite the lack of rain. He was also impressed by the constant sound of life that is here, both day and night with bird song, crickets and the sound of the sea. One evening, walking back from the beach, he recorded the different sounds as a memory for when he returns to the UK. He has also videoed the beautiful waves crashing over the Bathway rocks.
He was surprised at what you can and can’t buy here, realising what we take for granted sometimes back in the UK, such as being able to get paint easily and things like tiles being in stock if they are on display. He was also surprised to see the cost of some things like power tools being four times the price as in the UK. However, he reflected on how content people are here and noticed how happy a couple of children were playing on the beach, despite coming from a small, basic wooden home. They were happy with what they had compared to children in the UK, who are likely to have a lot more possessions and larger homes.
Reflections from the Retreat – by Sue and Terry
After an hour and a half drive from the airport, we turn onto a hidden dirt track. It is bumpy with rocks and gravel so the car is going at walking pace to protect the suspension. It is enclosed both sides with green trees and bushes and the sounds of hidden life. Eventually Hilary’s drive and house appear. We unload, have a quick chat and go to bed. Phew! A long journey.
In the morning, up at 5.30am and you step out onto the balcony. The house is high up so there’s always a cool breeze here and it is really needed after the warmth of the night. You hear beautiful birdsong and crashing waves and watch the sun rise in the sky.
After purchasing paint and other items, we set about working on the library, the room Hilary has chosen to focus on first. Working in the heat is slow and draining and we need regular drink breaks, lots of showers and dips in the sea!
The culture in Grenada is so different to the UK. There is no selfish ‘me first’ attitude. If you have something, you share it with your neighbours. Close neighbours drop a bag of lemons on the steps, so we make lemon sorbet with them. Everyone in Grenada is friendly and helpful. A lovely community feel and you are accepted and included. Everyone will wave or talk to you. In the car you wave hello at passers-by and it is totally normal for you to stop and offer a ride to anyone walking your way.
Driving is a demanding experience as all Grenadian roads are twisting and winding with steep hills. Honking of your horn is the norm. Hilary is learning to beep her horn when approaching tight corners to warn other cars approaching. In fact, you can honk your horn for anything: saying hello; thank you; or from behind saying ‘I want to overtake you.’ All understandable, especially when driving at night in complete darkness.
Along the roads, you see ‘God quotes’ and Bible verses written on walls and buildings, like graffiti. There are also a lot of dogs- Grenada loves dogs! In fact I don’t think I’ve seen so many dogs in one place and we think there are as many dogs as people. The dogs wander the streets and they run along the roadside, seeming to know that they should wait on the verge until your car has passed by.
With our arrival, Hilary wanted to do some tourist visits. She persuaded us to take part in a community ‘Hash’ (see last week’s blog). We spent the night on the beach until midnight waiting for turtles to come and lay their eggs. Disappointingly, they didn’t appear that night, but the tour guide said that we could use our tickets to come again. Hilary drove us from one end of the island to the other, showing us the sights and even drove in the dark (something she doesn’t enjoy). She has been an amazing host.
It has been a real privilege to be the first guests to the Hummingbird Retreat, which brought to life what we have only seen before on the website. It’s a wonderful big house with amazing views, but with plenty of work to be done and the potential is massive. It was a joy to witness Hilary’s emotion as we completed the library and then moved in the first bookcase. She saw the start of her dreams coming to reality.
Grenada, on first impressions, appears a special place.