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Week 52 - My First Year in Grenada!

Wildlife Wonder- Turtles



The local Levera beach is one of the best places to see the leatherback turtle, particularly over the next few months, when the mothers come up to the beach to lay their eggs. There are six different types of turtles found in Grenada; the green turtle, loggerhead turtle, hawksbill turtle, Olive Ridley turtle, flatback turtle and the world’s largest turtle, the leatherback turtle. This is featured in the photo above along with volunteers from Ocean Spirits, to give you a sense of the turtle’s size.


Ocean Spirits runs a conservation and research project to help care for this endangered species. They also run local education programmes to help local people to recognise the value of these animals. Sadly the hunting of turtles is not illegal in Grenada and there is a permitted hunting season.


The leatherback turtles can grow to over 2 metres in length and weigh about 900kg, which is about the weight of a grizzly bear or a buffalo. Turtles mainly eat jellyfish but this makes them vulnerable to eating plastic bags, which they can mistake for jellyfish. If they were not there to eat the jellyfish, this could lead to reduced fish reserves, because the jellyfish are competing for similar food to small fish, so it's important that the fisherman understand their value rather than see them as a good catch.


The turtles migrate, traveling up to about 10,000 miles and then the females will return to the very beach where they were born, to lay eggs. The gender of the baby turtle is determined by the temperature of the sand, with the warmer the sand, the higher the ratio of female turtles. So the increasing sea temperatures with global warming is having a significant impact on the number of male turtles being born.


The Ocean Spirits team has nightly patrols to monitor the eggs to ensure that the baby turtles can dig themselves out of the sand and return safely to the water for their epic journeys North. There are local night tours to learn about the turtles and see them laying their eggs or see the hatchlings running down the beach into the sea. Hopefully, this is something I will get to see soon for myself.


Grenadian Gift – The people of Grenada



When visitors are asked what they love about Grenada, a common response is that Grenadians are such lovely people. I know it is hard to generalise but Grenadians are known for being genuine, friendly, trustworthy and caring. They also tend to be optimistic, cheerful and generally lovely people to be around. Having married a Grenadian and been welcomed into a Grenadian family, I can say that firsthand hand and as my son once said, this is an island full of people like Dad!


The original people of Grenada were the Taíno from South America who were Arawak-speaking Indians and who were then defeated by the Carib Indians, also from South America. There are still some Grenadians who have Carib ancestry but over 80% of the population are of African descent. They are mainly from Nigeria and Ghana and are descended from those who were brought here in the slave trade in the 1600-1800’s. There is about 2% of people with Indian heritage, descended from Indian indentured workers who came in the 1800’s and the rest of the population is mainly of mixed heritage or of European descent.


The history of the people of this island and how they came to be here, is a traumatic story and there is increasing recognition of the generational trauma that people hold. However, there is also a recognition of generational wisdom and strength of character that Grenadians have held on to and passed on through the generations. It is evident that there is determination, resilience and a deep spirituality in a people that has survived the most horrific atrocities and still have compassion and peace in their hearts.


Famous Grenadians include the singer, Craig David and the Olympic gold medallist, Kirani James as well as Lewis Hamilton whose father is Grenadian and Malcolm X’s mother who was Grenadian. Talking of celebrities, for those of you who enjoy spotting celebrities then you may be interested to know that Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, and Jerry Hall all have homes here.


Grenadians are special and this short video clip, which is on a loop, from an American tourist sums it up well.


Reflections from the Retreat


So this time last year, to the day, I arrived in Grenada with a bulging suitcase and a sense of adventure. It was hard to believe that after all the years of planning, I was finally here and although it was tinged with a deep grief of coming without my husband, it was an exciting new beginning. One year on, I still feel blessed to be here and although I have had a few challenging moments along the way, I have never once regretted that move.


The amount of work that the house needs has felt huge and overwhelming at times but I am also grateful that the necessary building work gave me permission not to rush into opening the retreat house and have paying guests. This has given me time to settle here, make friends and enjoy the island before I get busier with running a retreat house. Having said that, I have had a regular supply of willing volunteers who have come to stay and help me with this process. My fifth group of volunteers arrive today and I have a similar number planned for the coming year. This gives me a lovely ebb and flow of guests with a busyness of decorating, DIY jobs and fun tourist trips and then quieter times to reflect and be on my own.


There has been progress on the house this year with three bedrooms and en-suites tiled, new basins, showers and toilets installed, the old kitchen removed and plans for the new one are taking shape, the library and soul space rooms are almost complete and the guest apartment is almost ready too. There have been 10 new ceiling fans installed and countless sockets and lights fixed. There has been less obvious progress too such as learning to navigate various Grenadian systems as well as navigate the roads!


Having a spiritual rhythm to my days and being surrounded by such natural beauty helps me to feel grounded and connected to God. It has been interesting to compare living in the UK with living in a Christian country where it is normal to hear Christian songs in supermarkets or on buses and people talk about God in everyday conversation. This year has shaped and deepened my spiritual life in so many different ways and the work on the house has mirrored my own internal restoration.


As I reflect on my first year, it was obvious to me that my final ‘Grenadian Gift’ would be the people of this island because the new friends I have made here have each been such a gift and have helped me to settle into my new home. Having come to the end of this series of blogs, there are so many more Wildlife Wonders that I haven’t talked about and so many more Grenadian Gifts that I could have shared with you. However, I hope that one day you can experience this beautiful country for yourself and find your own Wildlife Wonders and Grenadian Gifts.


I will start a new blog series of monthly updates, still posting them on Wednesdays and so I hope that you will continue to read my ‘Reflections from the Retreat’ blogs which will begin on 20th March.


 


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