Wildlife wonders – Green Iguanas
This is the last month of the dry season in Grenada and so water levels are at their lowest. This is therefore the best time to see iguanas because they are coming out of the dense vegetation in search of water. So far I have seen three large ones (like this photo). Two were on trees and one was by the roadside on my way back from the bus stop. I love to see them because they are such magnificent creatures and it feels like I am looking at a dinosaur. Thankfully these creatures don’t grow that big, though they are still an impressive size. They can grow to about 5 ½ feet so they would be taller than me if they were to stand on their tail.
I often hear scurrying noises in the bushes as animals scuttle away on the dry leaves. These are usually the small anole lizards but the larger sounds are often these iguanas. Sadly they are hunted for food as well as people stealing their eggs to eat. Grenada has created hunting seasons to try and protect this and other wildlife but the seasons are not strictly adhered to or policed and I have met a few people out hunting iguanas with their dogs despite the hunting season being over.
Iguanas bob their heads up and down to greet other iguanas and the frequency and number of bobs have different meanings. They can swim and when they are in the water they rest their legs and allow their strong tails to move them forward.
Grenadian Gifts- Grand Anse
Most tourists who come to Grenada stay near the Grand Anse beach, situated between the capital and the airport. I visited here recently and sat under a palm tree to eat my lunch and look out to sea. It is the iconic Caribbean beach stretching for 2 miles and its beautiful calm aqua waters are breath-taking.
My late husband, Hosten, went to school in Grand Anse and as the school was situated on the beach, this was their playground. The school was run by Catholic nuns from the neighbouring church and convent and some of his school friends still live in the area. The school building is still there but it is no longer a school and a new Catholic school has been built more inland. Perhaps they found that the temptation to go for a swim was too much for both the children and staff!
Grand Anse now has a long row of hotels along its shoreline and when a cruise ship comes into port for the day, the beach can become quite busy. There are various water sports available and snorkelling and scuba diving are particularly popular due to the many shipwrecks and an underwater sculpture park. When I was there last week, I watched a couple of people enjoying paddle boards and others going for a swim but I was quite content to sit and watch, before getting my bus home.
Reflections from the Retreat
This week has been my first Easter in Grenada and there have been no hot cross buns and, despite living near a chocolate factory, no Easter eggs in the shops which makes a refreshing change! Palm Sunday took on more meaning as I sat in church listening to the Palm Sunday story, looking out on palm trees and picturing them being cut down to wave as Jesus entered Jerusalem.
Grenada is over 95% Christian and within that percentage about 50% are Catholics and so Easter is a significant celebration. It is a busy weekend for Bathway because this is a popular destination for people to drive out of the capital or come from across the island to have a day out here. So there has been a lot of lively music, people having big family ‘cook-ups’ on the beach and a lot of rum has been drunk!
Another major aspect of Easter in Grenada is kite flying. When I first heard a kite a few weeks ago, I thought it was a very angry bee because the sound of the strong winds on the kite string is a very loud hum. I’ve been amazed at how high people can get their kites to fly and this time of the year is ideal as the winds are quite strong. Hosten used to talk about kite flying competitions when they would battle with kites and even put pieces of glass or razors in the tails to cut the strings of other kites so that the last surviving kite was the winner. There is also a tradition here that kites represent Jesus rising from the tomb. Most kites are made with attached bamboo sticks and light plastic or paper and are hexagonal in shape (as the local children are holding in the photo below). I have enjoyed watching the different coloured kites flying above the beach, from my balcony and maybe next Easter I’ll try flying one myself!
This has been the sportiest Easter I have ever had. It started with a game of rounders on Thursday organised by a retired PE teacher in the village. She and her partner were the strongest players but I managed to get a few rounders before being caught out. Then on Good Friday I joined an early morning walk around the area setting off at 6am before the sun became too hot. This was with the local church I have been attending and it was good to get to know a few more people and we also saw plenty of nutmegs and mangos on the trees that we passed. At church I reflected on the new life I am experiencing here and that there is ‘life after death’ in so many different ways. After church on Sunday I walked down to the beach to enjoy the ‘party vibe’ of Easter celebrations. Then on Easter Monday, three of the local churches got together to host a sports day and I found myself in the blue team. I was entered for the over 40’s 100mtrs sprint though I might have had a better chance if there had been an over 50’s option! There were some interesting races I hadn’t seen before like the threading the needle race, eating the biscuits (a whole packet) and eating the bun – which was so hard all the competitors struggled with that one! Lunch included oil down, peas and dumplings from big communal pots and then more races in the afternoon but although the blue team was leading most of the day we ended up last by the end of the day!