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5 Things About Grenada You Never Knew
Looking Towards Petit Martinique
Grenada is Three Islands
The nation of Grenada is not just one island but three - Grenada, Carriacou, and Petit Martinique. Grenada is the largest of the three, measuring twelve miles by twenty one miles, a total area of 131 square miles.
Carriacou is 13 square miles. It is similar to Grenada, with white sand beaches and natural harbors, but is less mountainous. The main town is Hillsborough, where the Carriacou Museum depicts the history of Grenada and its art.
Petite Martinique is the smallest island consisting of just 586 acres and is relatively undiscovered and unknown. The island is the tip of a volcano and rises to 756 feet from the sea level. The population of Petite Martinique is just 900 people. The inhabitants make their living primarily through fishing and boat building. Tourists can take a ferry from St George's Harbor in Grenada to visit her sister islands.
Color and Spice
The Spice Island
I love the fact that Grenada is also known as the Spice Island. It sounds so mysterious and exotic! This name is well-suited to the island as it's an exporter of nutmeg, mace, vanilla, clove, cinnamon, and ginger. The intoxicating smell of the spices seems to linger in the air.
Nutmeg and mace are most abundant and the island supplies approximately 20% of the world's market! Mace is the lace-like covering of the nutmeg seed, so they naturally go hand in hand. Mace is much more valuable because you obviously get far less of it from one nutmeg fruit.
Nutmeg trees take five years to produce fruit. It was believed that nutmeg could ward off the plague, therefore it was one of the most prized and valued spice in medieval times. Today, we use it not only for culinary purposes, but in medicine and fuel as well.
Surprisingly, the nutmeg trees aren't indigenous to Grenada. They came from the Moluccas, a group of islands in Indonesia, and were first planted on Grenada during the Napoleonic wars by the British, who governed at the time. You can visit the main nutmeg processing plant at Gouyave on Grenada, find out more about nutmeg and its uses, and purchase nutmeg products at their little shop.
For a place as beautiful and exotic as Grenada, it comes as no surprise that there is an annual Carnival that's full of color, music, food, and dance. The Carnival is held each year, for 10 days, in the month of August. The Carnival has traditions that date back hundreds of years.
Originally, the festivities were held a few days before the start of lent, just like Mardi Gras, and in recent years it has been held in August to celebrate their emancipation. August is the hottest month of the year but that doesn't seem to affect the party goers!
With colorful costumes, music, dance, parades, food, and plenty of rum, it has influenced other Caribbean carnivals.
Included in the schedule of events is a National Queen beauty pageant, and competitions for the best calypso, steel pans, and soca bands.
It's a great way to fill your senses with the tastes, smells, and sounds of the Caribbean!
Journey Through the Gallery
Underwater Art Gallery
One of the most amazing discoveries I made about Grenada is very well hidden! There is an underwater sculpture gallery built by artist and a diver, Jason De Caires Taylor. He built it in 2006, after a hurricane wiped out much of the coral reef.
The gallery is twenty four feet down and is an amazing work of art. In addition to its breathtaking beauty, it serves as an artificial reef, providing a wonderful, safe haven for wildlife. The gallery is also intended to create an awareness of environmental issues.
Over the years, the sculptures, themselves, will take on a different appearance as they become part of the animal and plant life for whom they increasingly provide a habitat. The gallery was also built as an alternative tourist attraction for divers, to help lessen the strain on the surviving coral reefs. Although the gallery is accessible only to divers, the sculptures can also be seen through a glass bottomed boat.
Trips are available from St. Georges's harbour. There are 79 sculptures in all, the largest being a circle of children holding hands.
What's in a Name?
Grenada was not always called 'Grenada.' Before Christopher Columbus found the island, it was called 'Camerhogue' by the Carib Indians who lived there. They had taken over the island from the Arawaks.
When Christopher Columbus found Grenada in 1498, he named the island 'Concepcion.' Oddly enough, Columbus himself never set foot on the island, but just sailed on by it! At that time, 'Concepcion' continued in the hands of the Caribs.
Although the Spanish never controlled the island, it is suggested that Spanish sailors renamed the island 'Grenada' because they admired and loved it so much, and it reminded them of their native country. It is uncertain exactly when the name change occurred, but by the eighteenth century it was known as Grenada – or 'La Grenade' as the french pronounced it.