Wildlife Wonder – Whales
This time of year, between about December to April, is the best time to see whales in Grenadian waters. Like the dolphins, they tend to be on the west side of the island where fish are more abundant. They have been spotted from the coastline in this area but the best way of seeing them is on a whale-watching trip from St Georges, which I hope to do at some point.
A yachting website suggested that Grenada was in the top 7 places in the world to see whales. Humpback whales are regularly seen as well as Cuvier’s beaked whale, dwarf sperm whales and ocras (in the photo). There have been 15 different species of whales spotted in these waters and it would be amazing to see them close up, enjoying the freedom of the ocean.
When I first arrived here, about this time last year, I saw something large and dark in the water from my balcony. Unlike the boats that I see moving across the top of the water, this stayed for a while and then sank down. I hadn’t unpacked my binoculars at that stage and so I can’t be sure what it was but, who knows, perhaps it was one of these magnificent creatures.
Whales are amazing singers and during this time of breeding, the Humpback whales sing complex songs that can last for up to about 20 minutes. Whales are large and long-living creatures with ocras living up to 90-100 years. They are sociable animals that swim together in groups called pods, communicating with clicks, whistles, and pulsed calls.
Grenadian Gift- Mellows River Tubing
One of my friends celebrated her birthday recently and organised a river tubing session at Mellows Entertainment Complex. This large complex is made up of bars, a large stage and a restaurant, situated by the river and is a popular venue for parties, concerts and weddings. There are a number of other river tubing venues along the Balthazar River but this one is a particularly good price. The river flows from the nearby Grand Etang rainforest, in the heart of Grenada, and is surrounded by lush vegetation and teeming with fish and other wildlife.
We were given helmets and lifejackets and we each carried our tube a short distance up-river and were given brief instructions, while we each sat in our tube. It was a brilliant experience floating down the river like small leaves, twirling around in eddies and then navigating the thrill of the small rapids, which were interspersed with calm water. Once we completed the ride, we were given a diving show by our instructors off a nearby bridge. We then sat by the river to enjoy some celebratory drinks and birthday cake!
Reflections from the Retreat
Recently I attended a yoga and art therapy day which had the theme of planning our intention for the New Year. We were asked to choose a word that represented our focus for 2024 and for me, this is friendship and developing the relationships that I am building here in Grenada. However, two other words also came to mind, perhaps after doing a yoga session, which were freedom and flow. As well as deepening relationships that I made last year, I want to continue to flow in the sense of going with the calling of God that I sense in my life and having a freedom to be all that I have the potential to be. So friendship, flow and freedom are my three key words for 2024.
Having identified these key themes, it was interesting timing to then be with a group of new friends a few days later to share the experience of freedom as we flowed down the river. I was aware of being moved by the river and having to trust that my inflatable ring would find its way down the river and to let the water take us to our destination. At times we were twirled around so we were going down the river backwards, other times we got stuck on rocks or close to the edge but, with the occasional nudge from fellow travellers or from the instructors, we all made it safely down river. It was a good metaphor of going with the flow and trusting the process. If I had tried to control where I went or tried to steer my ring then I may well have tipped over, as a couple of our party did. We can’t always govern what happens to us in life and when things are beyond our control, we just have to trust the process, hold on tight and know that in time, we will be taken to safety.
Another test this week of going with the flow and freedom was in my newly formed friendship with Cosmos, my kitten. I am gradually letting him out and ideally trying to contain how far he goes because there are no fences in the garden here. I let him out on the balcony and before I knew it, he was off exploring the roof and then disappeared. I tried not to worry and realised that this was a test of our friendship and his navigation skills, for him to work out how to get back inside. I tried not to think of the mongoose, the circling hawks and the dogs that might attack him and switched to talking to the builders.
Over the last week or so, the builders have installed new internal doors, completed the apartment kitchen and en-suite tiling and fixed some cracks and leaks. While I was talking to them in one of the bathrooms, Cosmos strolled in as if he was the foreman of the project, coming to check on the work. I was so relieved to see him safely home again and to know that he realises that this was home.
As any parent knows, it is always a fine balancing act of letting our children grow up whilst still wanting them to be safe. I am reliving that process again on a smaller scale with Cosmos. In giving him his freedom, I have to trust that he will know how to care for himself. Even at my age, I know my mum has worries about me being here and I still have to work at not worrying about my own children. I guess it’s better than parents being indifferent to their children and it is a sign of our love. However, we need to give our children the freedom to try things for themselves, to risk failing as well as risk succeeding. As someone has once said, parents need to give children roots when they are young to grow in the safety of a secure home and then to give them wings to fly and freely use what they have learnt. If we hold on too tight or try and control their lives then they can never learn to find for themselves that freedom and flow of life, infused with the care of the Divine.