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  • Writer's pictureHummingbird Retreat

Week 26

Wildlife Wonder- Brown Pelicans

We have visited a number of beaches recently and one of my favourites is Duquesne Bay which I have featured in a previous blog. This is a popular place for local fishermen and there are usually a few boats moored in the bay and various seabirds diving for fish. When we last went, it was great to see a pair of brown pelicans sitting on one of the fishing boats.

These beautiful birds have distinctive long necks and bills and are about 1 to 1.5 metres in height. At one point when we were watching them, they stretched out their wings to flap them before folding them up again and it made us realise how large these birds are with a wing span of about 2 to 2.5mtres.

They mainly eat fish and they dive, bill first, into the water to catch their prey. They have a pouch, as part of their lower bill, for draining water out when they scoop up the fish from the water. They tend to stay close to the coast rather than flying out to sea and pelicans in captivity have been known to live for over thirty years.

Grenadian Gift- Welcome Stone

I look out onto Levera Hill, to the left of the retreat house and so I have been wanting to climb to the top since I arrived. With my children here, it seemed a good opportunity to do this trip and so we took the car and drove up the steep incline and managed to park the car near the top, checking that the handbrake was firmly on! We expected a longer walk from the road but in about 5 minutes we had walked the short distance to the Welcome Stone. This landmark offers an amazing panoramic view across Levera National Park with Levera Pond and out to the islands off the coast and down to River Sallee.

It was fun looking down and recognising various buildings, beaches and of course, finding our house and seeing it from this new perspective. Now that I have driven up there and realise how easy the walk is to the viewpoint, it will be a regular trip for any of my future visitors who want to see the amazing view. The red roof below the fingernail is our house, in the photo below!

Reflections from the retreat

With my children here, I am in holiday mode and it almost feels like we are all away on a family holiday and I will be returning back to the UK in a few weeks with them. It is good to have time to talk and catch up in a relaxed way that goes beyond WhatsApp conversations and to enjoy exploring the island together. We have visited various tourist sites which I will feature in future blogs and it has been good to live together as a family again doing things we used to do together such as playing games or watching a film.

The 14th and 15th of August was a national holiday for carnival in Grenada which was the culmination of about a month of events. Carnival happens across the island but we went to our nearest town of Sauteurs to see the local, traditional version on the bank holiday Tuesday. This begins about 5am with people gathering in the town and when we arrived some people had been out drinking and partying from the day before and the town was busy with stalls selling various food and drink. We sat and waited for a few hours and then saw groups of people dressed in various costumes coming into Sautuers from the outlying villages. Traditionally the surrounding villages each chose a different colour and we saw a group covered in white oil and another group covered in green paint waving green tree branches. Some of the groups had lorries which they were decorated but were mainly filled with large loudspeakers to play music. There were a number of Jab Jab groups covered in black oil (see last week’s blog) and people were wearing various other costumes and masks including the shortknee costumes which are in the photo below.

Traditionally the Shortknee wears different coloured materials in a baggy costume and they wear a mask and small bells around their ankles called ‘wooloes’. They carry talcum powder which they throw at people and sing chants in a call-and-response manner. This character developed during the time of the French colonisation of Grenada and was based on the French clown, Pierrot and so was known as Pierrot Grenade. The name was then anglicised, when the English captured Grenada from the French, and they became known as shortknees, based on their shorts. However their origins have been traced back to traditions of the Yoruba people of Nigeria and they first appeared in Grenada in the St Patrick area, where we are based.

We had hoped to see large colourful floats and big costumes like Notting Hill carnival but we were told that this ‘Pretty mas’ is only down in St Georges. With no buses running during carnival, I was reluctant to try and drive through the island on carnival days and it was enough of a challenge driving to our local town of Sauteurs. I was told to be careful where I parked the car because cars can get paint and oil on them from people passing by. So we parked in the designated car park and were shown where to park by a traffic warden so I was hopeful that I would be able to get out again. However, when we came back to the car park, we were blocked in. Despite being a few miles from home, we got back in true Grenadian style by getting lifts back home from other drivers and returned later, with more lifts and stopping to drink a coconut from a street seller. When we returned, late afternoon, we found our car all on its own, safely in the car park!

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