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  • Writer's pictureHummingbird Retreat

Week 25

Wildlife wonder- Rose Coral

As we swim around these coastlines we see the various corals under the surface and corals are home to many of the fish we also sometimes see swimming in the water. My daughter found this small piece of rose coral on Levera beach, which gets its name because the larger colonies look like a rose. There are 2 types of rose corals – one is unattached and floats in the water and the other is found in large colonies attached to rocks.


Although they look like plants, corals are actually animals that are known individually as polyps and they are related to anemones and jellyfish. Each polyp has a mouth surrounded by tentacles. They stretch out these tentacles to pick up food at night, which is mainly algae. In time the corals die and along with shells and other materials, they are ground up by the sea to turn into the beautiful white sand of Grenada.


Grenadian Gift- Pearls airport

Grenadian’s first airport was at Pearls and was built in 1943. This is about a 20mins drive from the retreat house and is near the school and church buildings, which were given to Hummingbird Hope when we bought the retreat house.


During the American invasion in the early 1980’s, the US forces attacked a Cuban plane, which is still lying in ruins by the airstrip. Soon after this time, Pearls airport was replaced with the larger Maurice Bishop International airport which could manage the larger aircrafts and night flights. It was named in memory of the Grenadian Prime Minister who was executed in the coup, which had prompted the invasion.


The abandoned airstrip is now a popular venue for drag racing but most of the time it is a quiet spot with cows and dogs roaming around. When I visited recently with my kids, Josh was keen to get behind the wheel as I drove them down the airstrip but he had to settle for being a passenger for now!


Reflections from the Retreat

It is a very special time having my children to stay for a few weeks and to be able to live as a family again. After waiting for so long, it was a very special moment when they finally came out of the airport and I could hug them both again. I’ve enjoyed showing them around, introducing them to my new friends and seeing their wonder at the beauty of my new home. Seeing their reactions has reminded me of how I first felt coming here and being excited to collect fruit from the garden, being in awe of the brightness of the colours around us and of course enjoying the sea.


During the first few days they have experienced a few trips to the beach, my usual shopping trip to Grenville and we were fortunate to be invited to a wedding by our builder, Delon. It was lovely to see his brother getting married in a church decorated with beautiful tropical flowers and a wedding arch of flowers and balloons, followed by a reception at a beautiful venue looking over the sea.


Grenada is in carnival season and it is not just the two days of public holidays but a series of events and various concerts and parties breaking out across the island. Recently there was the national holiday to celebrate Emancipation Day which is always celebrated on the first Monday of August. This holiday commemorates the abolition of slavery 158 years ago.


For Grenada this involves the Jab Jab festivities which happen across the island. The name ‘Jab Jab’ is derived from the French for devil and the celebrations are an expression of evil and in particular the evil of slavery and a celebration of freedom and conquering evil. People cover themselves in black paint or oil (or more recently people have started to use charcoal with cooking or body oil) and then they dance through the streets. People dress up in hats with goat or cow horns, carrying chains and sometimes even holding coffins or snakes.


One idea of how this celebration started is that it is based on the times when there were fires on the sugar plantations and slaves were gathered together and forced to deal with the fire. After emancipation the freed slaves represented this scene by covering themselves in burnt sugar cane and molasses and commemorated the change in their situations. For some people they see carnival and particularly Jab Jab as a very dark time and a celebration of evil. However, I am aware of the collective trauma that is shared by Grenadians and so for me, it almost feels like a cathartic form of drama therapy where people need to re-enact the pain and evil of the past in order to find some healing, sense of empowerment and a celebration of freedom.


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