Wildlife wonder – Land crabs
Recently I visited the island of Carriacou, with some friends who came to Grenada for a few weeks from the UK. We stayed in the beautiful and very special village of Petite Carenage which is where my husband came from and where some of his family still live. We walked down from the family home to the nearby beach and as we passed the old, large well and neared the family cemetery, there were multiple crabs scuttling along the ground and into their large holes.
The crabs dig out large, deep holes in the soft, sandy ground and they stay close to their hole, so that they can quickly hide when they hear danger coming. The crabs can grow to about 15cms wide and they will repeatedly moult, sometimes up to 60 times, to reach their full size. The larger they are, the slower they scuttle away and we also met some walking along the road or in the garden, further from the beach.
They eat insects, leaves, and fruit and also feed off dead animals or anything else they can find to eat. The males have one claw which is particularly large and they do their best to fight off predators. However they can be eaten by other animals such as the mongoose and are frequently hunted by people; crab is a popular dish in Grenada.
Grenadian Gifts – Snorkelling at Anse la Roche beach
This was truly an amazing Grenadian gift. We had a day’s tour with Froggy’s reef tours (which I will feature in a future blog). There were multiple ‘Grenadian gifts’ as we sailed around Carriacou, but snorkelling was a particularly special moment for me. I have not felt confident to try scuba diving or snorkelling before, due to the psychological barrier of breathing underwater. However Anse la Roche was so calm and clear and the water looked so inviting that I decided to give it a try.
I first practiced breathing above the water and having convinced myself that the snorkelling mask worked, I gingerly put my head under the water surface and continued to breathe with the tube above the surface. We could see fish as we stood in the water looking down, but to see them underwater was a totally different experience. As I lowered my face below the surface, it was as if I was watching a nature programme of this underwater world of corals and numerous different types of fish.
I was amazed at the amount we saw and all so close to the beach. There were shoals of bar jack fish and other shoals of smaller fish. There were little, colourful tropical fish including a bluehead wrasse with a brilliantly, vibrant blue head. My friend saw a completely blue fish called a blue tang which was a rounded fish like the shape of an angel fish and also a sand diver, which sits on the seabed and looks like half lizard, half fish.
I am someone who likes to be able to touch the bottom when I swim, but I swam out further than normal, mesmerised by the beauty and variety of the fish that we saw. It was such a wonderful experience that I am planning to buy my own snorkelling mask and continue to find places to explore underwater.
Reflections from the retreat
As I look out from my balcony, I can see the island of Carriacou in the distance and I also sometimes hear the small planes flying overhead, which travel there from Grenada. It was therefore great to have the opportunity to fly to Carriacou for a few days with my friends, Sue and Leon, from the UK. They had a week in Grand Anse and then joined me at the airport to take the half an hour flight over to this beautiful, small island. The selfie above shows us, just before we boarded the plane. It carries about twenty people and these larger planes have recently replaced the smaller planes that used to hold about half that number.
Our trip included some lovely meals out and we visited various places that will feature in some of my future blogs. Carriacou is always drier and hotter than nearby Grenada and so it was a particular challenge when one of the main generators for the island stopped working and we were without power. This meant that we had no water, because the water comes into the house with an electric pump and also we were without the fridge, freezer and fans – all of which are needed when you are hot and thirsty. It was especially challenging because we were never quite sure when the power would come or go and so after a day on the beach, we came back to no water for showers and no cold water to drink. However in true Grenadian style, a neighbour came to help and provided some buckets of water for us to shower and we then stocked up with bottled water from the shop and filled buckets. The power came on for a few hours each morning and evening and continued to be mainly off for the length of our visit. So despite the beauty and peace of Carriacou, we were glad to return to Grenada and, with it being my first time away from the retreat house, I realised how keen I was to get ‘back home.’
Thankfully, Carriacou had their first rain for about 5 months when we were there, which helped to cool us down a few times. This is why the sky looks so overcast in the photo below. There is a beautiful view of the main town, Hillsborough, from the Princess Royal hospital at Belair, next to this old cannon. The rain only lasted a short time and so we were able to enjoy the usual Carriacou sunshine and amazing beaches, including Sandy island which is a semi-circle of sand and palm trees, near the right side of the photo.