Following up our previous post, while Grenada is only 21 miles long, and 12 miles wide, there was still much to see and explore on the spice isle.
THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
We continued our journey exploring Grenada with our knowledgeable local guide, Mr. Rawl Bell (“Rawl”), and our visiting guests, Randy’s sister Patti and her husband Chuck. Rawl informed us that no visit to Grenada would be complete without a trip to one of the island’s two (2) chocolate factories. It did not take much convincing to get us to agree. At the Diamond Chocolate Factory, we learned how chocolate is made from bean to bar. Our guide escorted us to the Cocoa fields laden with Cocoa trees producing buds. Harvesting the cocoa pods is still done by hand. The cocoa pods are carefully broken open to release the cocoa beans, which are embedded in a moist, fibrous, white pulp. We had the opportunity to taste the cocoa beans right out of the pod!
In sum, the beans are then dried, fermented, mixed, and heated, with additional ingredients added depending on how the chocolate is to be used.
At the end of the guided tour, visitors are able to sample chocolates with varying degrees of cocoa (i.e. 60%, 70%, 80%, 90% &100%) and purchase all kinds of chocolate. It was not at all like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory, however, the sampling and purchases in the end were deliciously delightful.
DESTROYED RUSSIAN PLANES
Grenada is an island nation rich not only in spices, but richly steeped in history as well. In 1983, the U.S. launched Operation Urgent Fury, during which U.S.-led forces successfully defeated a threat posed to the United States and the Caribbean by the “Soviet-Cuban militarization” of Grenada. As we explored the island, we observed Russian planes, abandoned and destroyed, at the now closed Point Salines Airport.
We were pleased and proud to also see signs prominently displayed around the island thanking the U.S. for its part in liberating Grenada from the then untenable government.
THE RUM DISTILLERY
Exploring the Antoine River Estate Rum Distillery provided yet additional insight to the never ending beauty of the “Spice Isle,” its history and resourcefulness. To start, the distillery uses locally grown cane and a hydro-powered water wheel that has been operational since 1785! It was delectable tasting the fresh cut cane and then watching it go up the hydro-powered conveyor belt so that the sweet sugary juices could be squeezed out of the cane in the first step of the rum making process. The discarded cane remnants are then piled up and carted away for mulch. (To the gear-heads who want to see the hydro-powered water wheel in action, click on the video tab at the top of this page to view video of the wheel in motion.) Click on any picture to enlarge or for slide show.
The sugar cane juice is then transported to large vats in the boiling house, where it is boiled and then fermented. The fermented remnants then continue their journey through large distillery pots where locally gathered wood fuels the fire that heats the pots converting the fermented sugar cane juices into steam. The steam is subsequently cooled and reconstituted into the rum liquid that is bottled and sold throughout the island.
The vapors at the distillery were truly intoxicating! Like the chocolate factory, we were fortunate to taste a sampling of the final product at the end of tour.
Our last spot of exploration with Rawl took us through the rainforest around the Grand Etang Forest Reserve, to the focal point of the reserve, Grand Etang Lake. Grand Etang Lake fills the crater of one of the island’s extinct volcanoes and is located 1,800 feet (550 m) above sea level. The rainforest was fraught with tropical flowers that can only flourish in a rainforest.
Rawl Bell provided us with a fascinating tour of the island, one which none of us will soon forget.
Alas, the time came for Patti and Chuck to return to the states. We shared our farewell dinner at the elegant Mount Cinnamon Resort, on the south end of Grand Anse Beach. We were all sad to see Patti and Chuck leave, however, on our journey, there are no “good-byes,” only “until we meet again!” So, until we meet again …