Wildlife Wonder- Dolphins
These must be some of the most cheerful creatures to watch and when you spot them, you can’t help but feel a sense of excitement and joy. There are about ten different species of dolphin that swim around this small island including the rare Franciscana dolphins, which has the longest beak, relative to its body.
Dolphins and whales are more common on the Western coast which is known for its rich fish supplies and so I like to look out when I drive that side of the island in case I see distant dolphins leaping in the water. I haven’t seen any yet but I hope to go out on one of the whale and dolphin-watching tours in the next few months because December to April is the best time to see them.
The common dolphin, in the photo above, grows to about 2 metres in length and they are usually in subgroups of about 20 to 30 dolphins that can join other groups to form hundreds of dolphins swimming together. They can live for up to 50 years although there have been records of some living longer than this. Sadly, in captivity they often die in their first year and if they do survive it is only for about 12 years, which highlights their need for space and freedom.
If you visit a local fish market you may be alarmed to see dolphin for sale. However, this is actually the dolphin fish or ‘mahi mahi’ which is a large, carnivorous fish but definitely not a dolphin.
Dolphins have a brain-to-body ratio that is second only to humans and this is why they are so intelligent. Along with this intelligence comes good communication, complex behaviours, and playfulness. It is interesting to see how intelligence and play come together in these creatures and marine biologists suggest that because of their high intelligence, they sometimes need to let off steam and relax. They have created various games such as playing catch with a small fish or turtle, playing a form of tag or even getting into rival teams to compete. Research has shown that they recognise themselves in a mirror and they also give each other distinct names. For such fun-loving creatures, it is fascinating to discover the many ways that they are also very deep thinkers!
Grenadian Gift- Dodgy Dock restaurant
My recent guest, Kim, and I visited this restaurant for lunch and enjoyed a relaxing setting watching boats passing by and birds sneaking in and pinching food off the tables, before they were cleared! The restaurant is close to the airport, so we also enjoyed watching the occasional plane fly overhead.
This restaurant is part of the True Blue Boutique Resort which has a spa, House of Chocolate bakery, rum shop, yoga studio, and various swimming pools. It also has an interesting selection of Amerindian artifacts found around Grenada and displayed by a small children’s play area and souvenir shop, just before you enter the restaurant.
Their menu has a good range of snacks, pizzas, and main courses including vegan and vegetarian options and desserts and it is famous for its cocktail menu and live evening entertainment. The restaurant looks over to the sandy-coloured buildings of the St. Georges University. This began as an American medical school and it now offers a much wider curriculum and is more international but it still provides the largest number of newly qualified doctors to the USA.
Reflections from the Retreat
As I look out of my window and see my usual sea view and sunshine, it is hard to imagine that it’s almost Christmas. I’m not surrounded by the usual flashing Christmas lights of neighbouring houses and there is definitely no chance of snow, with the temperatures staying in the usual 30’s. Despite these temperatures, I’ve still heard ‘Let it snow’ being played in supermarkets along with other familiar Christmas classics like ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ and ‘Last Christmas.’ There are numerous artificial Christmas trees and decorations as well as large snowmen for sale. However there are no advent calendars and when I asked for Christmas cards, at the largest card selection in town, I was told that they had sold out which was refreshingly novel!
I was in one of the larger stores in the capital a few weeks ago and there was a well-stocked aisle of beach toys labeled ‘seasonal’ which felt a bit odd for December. A girl and her Mum were looking at paddle boards and when the daughter asked for one for Christmas, her mother suggested that she put it on her ‘wish list’ instead of asking Father Christmas for it. Something I’ve really appreciated here is not seeing any signs of Father Christmas. When our children were young, we agreed never to lie to them and this included not talking about Father Christmas as if he was real. Our kids still enjoyed the excitement of Christmas just as much as other children, and in fact, I think they enjoyed having secret inside information that he wasn’t real which they proudly kept to themselves when their school friends talked about Santa!
So here Christmas hasn’t been about queuing for hours to see Father Christmas, buying an excessive amount of presents, or covering the houses in fairy lights. Instead, people prepare for Christmas by giving their house a fresh coat of paint, doing DIY jobs to smarten up their home and getting the roadsides and gardens cut and tidied.
As the Christmas celebrations near, there have been other celebrations on the island with the West Indies v England cricket tour. The teams played two of their day matches at the capital’s stadium and some of my friends went to watch. They saw the West Indies win, amidst plenty of cheering, dancing and drums. However, England fought back and won the following match so it was an odd double celebration for those of us with dual citizenship!
I’ve also been having my own little celebrations as we continue to make progress on the house. The electricians, Coy and Wayne (in the photo below), did a great job at persevering with the challenging electrical wiring in this house. On a good day they said that they enjoyed the challenge but at other times, the mess of hidden wires and DIY attempts from previous owners, tested their patience as they struggled to find which wire served which socket. However their determination paid off and after a few weeks of work, we now have all sockets working and new lights and ceiling fans installed. Another recent triumph is that I have just finished cataloging all our books and so I now have about 3300 books recorded on an online library and all stamped and numbered. I just have to put them on the new library shelves in the right order, which I’ll do when my next guests come to stay, to help with this and other jobs in February.
So as we approach Christmas in this advent season, there are various smaller celebrations on the way. Advent is a time of expectant waiting for God to do something, but it is not a passive waiting – it is a time of hidden changes. At that first Christmas, a lot was happening in secret as Mary experienced a new life, growing within her, hidden from the world. Often change is unseen and gradual like the progress in the retreat house. From the outside of the house, the electrical work is largely unnoticed and the piles of books still look the same, apart from their tell-tale labels. From the outside the house still looks a little abandoned and in need of decorating. However, inside things are gradually taking shape. If we wait in expectation for glimpses of the divine in our own lives, we will start to see changes, perhaps unseen but always life-giving, maybe unnoticed but if we tune in, we will find God is working and restoring.