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  • Writer's pictureHummingbird Retreat

Week 4

Wildlife wonders – Ghost crabs

On the nearby beach of Levera, it is often quiet with people preferring to swim at Bathway. However these little guys are often scurrying around the beach. They are ghost crabs and are fun to watch as they run sideways down the beach into the sea. They are called ghost crabs because they blend in so well with the sand that they can appear almost transparent. They hide in burrows in the sand, particularly in the heat of the day and prefer to come out when it is cooler.

They are quite shy and harmless and the largest they grow is about 7cms. Being quite small, it’s quite impressive when they happily run into the strong, large waves crashing onto the beach. Their eyes are on stalks that can swivel 360o to keep a look out for predators or food. They eat various things including vegetation, insects and turtle eggs, hence their home at Levera.

Sadly, Grenada is known for crab racing and I’ve heard of crabs being brought over from the US, Canada and even as far as Italy to take part in the races, often hosted in hotels and bars full of cheering spectators. Thankfully the Levera crabs are free to race where they like and to enjoy the freedom of the peaceful beach.

Grenadian Gifts – Soursop tea

People here drink various bush teas that are known for their many medicinal properties and this week I made my first soursop tea. Soursop is an evergreen tree that bears large, spiky green fruit which has a white fleshy inside with black seeds.

On a recent walk with some new acquaintances from the village, we picked some soursop leaves and I was encouraged to make tea. Having reassured myself that google agreed with their instructions, I boiled 5 leaves for 10 minutes and then let it steep for a further 10 minutes before drinking my soursop tea. It had a mild taste and as I drink my tea black anyway, it was quite pleasant.

Soursop tea is supposed to boost your immunity and is also used to treat upset stomachs, fevers hypertension and rheumatism. It's also used as a sedative and I was advised that I would sleep well after my soursop tea. It is hard to say whether it had that effect as I sleep well most nights here. I’ve been told that I can make teas with all sorts of leaves including from my orange and lime trees so there is a lot more experimenting to do!

Reflections from the Retreat

Some of you may have come across the concept of people being more relationship-orientated or task-orientated. Sometimes this distinction is used to describe leadership styles and has also been used to distinguish between different cultures. I’ve been aware of this concept during my first few weeks of living in Grenada. As a task-orientated person myself, coming from the UK which is a task-orientated culture, I have noticed the relationship-orientated approach of Grenada, particularly within public services.

I first noticed it when my friend showed me where the post office had moved to but it wasn’t the case of showing me the building or to show me a mailbox where I should pick up my post. Instead he introduced me to the lady who works there and they chatted about mutual friends and local goings on and so the postal worker and I are now on first name terms.

Last week I needed to register for the import tax for my container and to submit the annual return for the charity to the Grenadian equivalent of companies’ house. Instead of an impersonal online form, I needed to go to the government offices and without having to wait in either place I was shown to the desk of the person managing these processes. The finance officer was particularly friendly and shared about her own bereavement when I had to explain my situation as a widow. We then got talking to the people in the neighbouring booth and the task of the paper work was done as we talked. It was reassuring to see the process happen before my eyes and to be able to ask questions about how it works. I’ve also visited the tax office to get the forms I need to register for tax. I only had to wait a few minutes and then I was able to sit and talk to one of the tax officers, ask questions about the process and get the necessary forms. It was quite a different experience to waiting on the phone for ages for HMRC and then still not being sure if I understood the process!

The buses are another example of a relationship based service. The drivers will often drive round collecting passengers and, as they did for me this week, they sometimes reverse down a hill if they see someone coming up to the bus stop. They may get a call saying someone needs picking up or they will take a detour to get someone nearer to home if the person has a lot of shopping.

In a more relationship-based culture, things are more word of mouth rather than available on websites. So to find someone who can fix my oven or to know where an event is happening I can no longer just rely on the internet but I need to ask around and in doing so, I build my networks of support and friendships.

Whatever way a process happens, there are always pros and cons. Things don’t work as quickly here and, for example, buses are not ideal if you have a tight deadline to get somewhere. I’m sure there will be times when I miss the efficiency and speed of a task-orientated culture but at the moment I’m enjoying the slower pace, trusting that things will get done in the end and making friends along the way!

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