We ventured into the beautiful interior of Grenada today for a hike to Concord Falls with several cruising friends. Well, it wasn’t all that far inland; it is an island after all. After Yoga on the beach in the morning (Cruising can be such a tough life) we prepped our lunch and boarded the trusty #1 bus into the Central Terminal to switch to the #5 bus that travels up the coast, all for a total of about $2.50 US person. The local bus system consists of numerous 15-passenger vans that efficiently move in and out of St. Georges to various parts of the island as the main means of transportation for most locals, and all of us cruisers.
Our guides Stu and Barb of S/V La Luna have been here before told us where to depart the bus, and we set out on the steep road up to the lower falls. Locals warmly greeted us from their simple homes along the road and the beautiful steep mountains towered up on either side, sometimes completely vertical over our heads. At one point, a little old lady coming down the road reached out and touched Carrie’s hand and said “long walk, long walk.“
A little ways up the road we were joined by Walt Williams, a local fellow who asked if he could “walk along with us“. That’s a code meaning he hopes to make some money from showing tourists the local sights and tricks for getting to our destination. Many local folks make their living showing island visitors from the Cruise Ships the local sites, depending on a little guilt for tips. Even if you tell them you don’t need a guide and won’t give them a tip they’ll hang out with you anyway, having learned the tricks with all of the tourists that come their way.
The lush greenery blankets the mountain sides, fed by the plentiful rains during this season, but the mid-day heat had us calling for shade and some breeze by the time we turned off the road (a forty-five minute walk) and into the hills. The turnoff shows a little “teaser” view of the lower falls along with some vendor stands, and we stopped for a rest and a drink. While we brought water Carrie and I enjoyed some delicious freshly made juice, a mix of golden apple with a little lime, a nice alternative to the standard fare of beer and soft drinks.
After a short rest we launched onto the road/trail into the hills along the river and the temperature cooled off pleasantly as we entered the trees. We noted that the trail was not quite wide enough for a vehicle and studded with rocks to keep it from washing out during the regular rain that falls this time of year. Almost 90% of the Nutmeg growing industry was wiped out by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and we figured that the farming plots we saw along this road are some of the local farmers trying to engineer a comeback. It was estimated that it will take up to 20 years to bring the nutmeg groves back to their pre-Ivan level, and while there were once 4 or 5 nutmeg processing plants on the island before the storm, there is presently only one still operating, and it only employs workers part time.
The sounds of rushing water increased and the temperature dropped accordingly as we pushed further up the trail into the hills. We had to climb over some larger rocks as we made our way up to the main falls but as you can see, it was worth it. Everyone brought something to swim in and Carrie wasted no time in finding how cool and refreshing a swim under the waterfall was. Everyone took advantage of the cool water since swimming in the ocean this time of year is somewhat like a tepid saltwater bath.
We enjoyed our lunch as the falls pleasantly drowned out any background noise. Then we packed up and headed back down the river and onto the road again. On the way down we were greeted by many local children in their new school uniforms carrying their book bags as school has recently re-opened for the year. At the end of our hike we were not surprised to find a #5 bus coming right along to transport us back to the noise and confusion of St. George’s where we made our connection back to our anchorage.
We wrapped up the day with some well-deserved refreshments and stories with friends and other cruisers at the local Bar called “De Big Fish” where we docked our dinghy before heading back to Sanctuary to greet Spike and fall into bed. My hiking boots finally gave out after years of faithful service on the way down and I had to tie them together the last mile or so with plans to deposit them in the dumpster at the first opportunity. The winds had been up during the day but the evening was calm and pleasant and by the time I closed up the boat and got into bed Carrie was sleeping soundly. I wasn’t far behind her.