Wildlife Wonder- Flying fish
Sitting on my balcony, looking out to sea, I was wondering what to focus on for this week’s blog. I then realised that I have introduced you to various mammals, birds and insects but I haven’t focused much on the amazing marine life here. So this week’s blog focuses on flying fish.
These fish are an amazing wildlife wonder and I first saw them years ago, when I visited the Caribbean for the first time. A small group jumped up and ‘flew’ a few metres above the sea level and then dived back into the depths. Sadly the numbers of flying fish are in decline due to overfishing, particularly because they are attracted to light and so it is easy to lure them towards fishing boats to be caught. However, it is still possible to spot them, in Grenadian waters, out at sea.
They build up speed underwater, like a plane taking off and then they launch themselves out of the water with a straight back to keep an aerodynamic shape. They fan their fins outward to enable them to glide in the air and then dive back under the water's surface and they usually swim in groups.
There are about 40 species of flying fish and the species in Grenada are the four-winged flying fish. They are about 20-30 cm in length. They can travel up to about 50 metres in the air and at speeds of about 40mph. This ability helps them escape predators such as tuna and swordfish, but then it makes them a target for sea birds such as the large frigate birds.
Grenadian Gift- Palm Tree Gardens
There are so many beautiful gardens here with exotic flowers and impressive palms and so it was lovely to discover a garden open to the public. We visited this beautiful garden which is located near the capital, on our way home. For a few pounds, we were offered a tour of the garden but we decided instead to just go at our own pace and enjoy the quiet garden and beautiful mountainous views on our own.
The garden covers 2 acres and has over 300 plant species, including 40 palm varieties. There was also a cage of red-footed tortoises, including some young ones. The garden is set out with winding paths and various seats so it is the sort of place you could sit and reflect or take a book to enjoy sitting amongst the beautiful palms and tropical flowers.
The garden was started as a retirement project by Lawrence Lambert CBE who used to own a hotel in Grand Anse and was very active in the tourism business, for which he gained his CBE. He travelled around Grenada choosing plants and developing the garden over 8 years. Each plant is carefully labelled and shows the range of plants on this island. Sadly Lawrence died in 2019 and although the garden is still open for business, it is a little more neglected without its founding gardener to keep an eye on it.
Reflections from the Retreat
Recently I have been reading about the Enneagram, which I discovered a while ago, and every so often, I find myself returning to it. Over the years my interest in psychology and spirituality has become more integrated and my interest in the Enneagram is a good example of this integration because it is a useful tool for psycho-spiritual development. The Enneagram is used as a personality test in various settings and is a tool that I could possibly offer to future guests at the Hummingbird Retreat.
It is an ancient tool that has been found in various oral traditions such as the early church and Sufi Muslim traditions and it is represented by the diagram below. There are various stories as to how it became popular in the West such as through a Russian route and also a South American route. It was taught among Jesuit priests in the middle of the last century and led to several books being published. Since then it has been used in a wide range of psychological, personal development and spiritual settings and is used in spiritual direction and retreats, particularly within the Catholic Church.
There are various levels to this ancient description of personalities which divides people into 9 types based on the basic motivation and underlying energy that drives a person; type 1 has a need to do things right and make things right, type 2 has a need to help and be needed, type 3 has a need to be successful and valued by others, type 4 has a need to be unique and be authentic, type 5 has a need to understand and be competent, type 6 needs to be safe and secure, needs 7 needs to avoid pain and enjoy life, type 8 needs to be against and challenge and type 9 needs to be at peace and to avoid conflict.
Each type has a much more detailed explanation and one of the things I particularly like is that it describes the healthy version and unhealthy version of each type and the pathway to a more mature, healthy version of self. So unlike most personality tests that give descriptions of characteristics, this tool suggests ways that people can develop. For example, I’m a type 1 which in an unhealthy mode is about wanting to control things and being critical, particularly of ourselves, but in a healthier version, it is about creating change and making life better for others.
Each type can regress to a more unhealthy version which is represented by the unhealthy side of another type so type 1’s regress to be unhealthy 4’s, where we can become more negative and self-pitying. For type 1’s to become healthier, we need to move more to a healthy type 7. Type 7’s are naturally fun-loving, laid-back characters who balance the more serious, driven type 1’s. So it is interesting that I find myself in a country that has a more ‘type 7’ culture. Living in a warmer climate in which it feels that there is more time to do things, is also healthy for my type 1 tendencies and learning to relax in a hammock or ‘lime’ by the sea helps to balance my natural inclination to always be busy and productive. So I can see how living here is helping me to develop my natural type 1 tendencies in a healthier direction.
Another interesting aspect of the Enneagram is that it divides personality types into head, heart or gut types. Type 1, along with types 8 and 9, are gut people and I relate to this in that I tend to be quite instinctive as to how I see things. The heart people are types 2, 3 and 4 and they tend to naturally focus primarily on feelings and are more relational and the head people are 5, 6 and 7 and are the thinkers and tend to analyse situations more. These distinctions can be helpful in a person’s spiritual life and can reflect how people relate to God or how different types of prayer methods will suit different personality types.
There are various other aspects of this symbolic diagram such as developing aspects of the type on either side, known as ‘wings’ and related passions, challenges, weak spots and so on. It’s amazing how many layers of information are held in what at first glance, seems such a simple diagram. Ultimately it can act as a psycho-spiritual guide to direct personal growth through the integration of all types to be a fully rounded individual. As with all things, there are various books and websites available if you are interested in knowing more and I’ve certainly found it a useful tool in my own life and in working with others.