Strolling along the white sandy beaches watch the morning sunrise, hiking one of the many trails found on the island and finishing the day by having a picnic while watching the sun set, how does this sound? This is all possible in Grenada, also known as the ‘Spice Isle’ in the Caribbean, which consists of a few small islands and one main island which coincidently has the same name as the country and is home to the countries nutmeg plantations.
The island country of Grenada may not be well-known to the majority of the world left to mind it’s own business, like many other Caribbean islands. In doing so, the people living in Grenada have developed quite a culture for themselves to be proud of. From the African slaves to wealthy Americans, Europeans and Asians who have called this country home throughout its history and have contributed to the incredible culture with music, Carnival celebrations and the arts. Although, being traded between France and England from the 17th to the 20th centuries, Grenada appears to be more part of the United States of America than England or France politically.
With so many individuals calling this wonderful country home there’s no wonder they’ve developed their own version of English with heavy influences from French and African languages which are still prevalent today. From religion to folklore, there are plenty of characteristics that make this Caribbean country stand apart from it’s neighbours Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent and the Grenadines or St Lucia to name a few. While you’re here be sure to check out the local newspapers and keep an eye out for anything relating to Obeah, or white magic which many African descendants who consider themselves Christian also believe in.
As with most of the Caribbean, Carnival is a big celebration. Grenada takes this to the next level by celebrating most festivals twice every year. Carnival on the island of Carriacou is celebrated in February and the island of Grenada celebrates in July or August. Both of these festivals live up to the hype of Carnival with vibrant colours, extravagant costumes, lively parties and Carnival dignitaries. There are two more festivals to enjoy, their independence from Britain on February 7th, 1974 and the National Dance Festival which begun in 1991 to encourage children to dance and has since grown to a country-wide celebration held twice every year.
Reggae music, one of the most popular styles to come from the Caribbean, is one of the more important styles of music in Grenada along with Calypso. Each of the Caribbean islands have their own individual characteristics when it comes to music but this is slowly changing as the Steel Band music from Trinidad and Tobago is becoming more and more popular with the locals on Grenada. Because of the many different cultures to be found and experienced on Grenada, you can see that the people have kept as much of their own culture as possible from African dances to drum and dance styles, you can clearly see the difference between each tribe.
As with other Caribbean countries, the food you’ll find in Grenada will be a fusion of African, European, Asian and many other cultures due to the variety of inhabitants throughout it’s history. It goes without saying that the best food is the local food, not only is this deliciously made with local ingredients grown on the Island but also using local spices that the country is famous for, such as nutmeg. The specialty dish for Grenada is ‘Oil Down’, a stew-type dish that typically consists of local vegetables and some type of meat, usually pig snout or tail, salt mackerel, crab or chicken. Pork is usually eaten on special occasions while fish and chicken are readily available and extremely fresh but be aware that beef is rare.
The countries flag is a symbol for all things that make the country amazing from the vibrant colours representing the Rastafarian religion to the stars representing saints and and regions. Sadly, due to the large portion of young people in Grenada, some feel that the culture of this island country is slowly disappearing. Forty-two percent of inhabitants are under the age of fifteen and they’ve developed quite an interest in western culture while displaying a certain disregard for their own. Though this can be viewed as a positive thing possibly linking Grenada with the western world and many other international powerhouses the culture that makes the country unique is diminishing as you’re reading this.
Even the architecture in Grenada can be traced back to it’s roots and the influential powers throughout history. Larger and older communities have a strong European influence with their own Caribbean spin taking advantage of the bright colours. Buildings are designed to make use of the breeze, while residential and commercial buildings have windows installed, most schools don’t, they do however have open frames that can be sealed to protect from storms as needed.
There are plenty of things to do when visiting Grenada, from hiking trails to swimming in the ocean, you can have it all relatively close by. Don’t forget to follow some cultural norms and common courtesies while visiting the countries islands, a warm friendly greeting is more than welcome, be patient when asking someone to read or write something, most people are not comfortable with sharing personal issues with strangers and avoid questions about professions or family life as ice-breakers. Following these simple common courtesies will help you make the most of your time in Grenada and experience everything the country has to offer.
By now you should know enough about Grenada to make your trip a breeze, interact with the locals and make the most of your experiences in the country. Share your thoughts or experiences in the comment section below. I look forward to hearing about your travel stories especially in the Caribbean!