Barbados to Grenada 2016 Spicemas
After the debacle in Barbados airport, we landed safely and smoothly. The Immigration staff are friendly, but formal and a great initial experience upon entering the island. The taxi that served us reminded me of a scene from a Quentin Tarantino movie, Kill Bill. It was the hospital warden’s car and admittedly I didn’t take a camera shot but it was reminiscent of that vehicle in that film. It was decked out in animal print inside and out! Colours, materials, jingles and jangles. God love him though he was old and lovely. My initial reaction was how warm the Grenadians were.
Beyazev Villa, Egmont, Calliveny Island
Wow, was all I could say we travelled into Calliveny to stay at this villa. I was lucky to have friends staying here and was afforded the luxury of staying here for my initial few nights. A 5 bed impressive villa located in a little community of like-minded folk who clearly have money. The marina already had a couple of small boats and yachts moored and a gorgeous outside restaurant that boasted reasonable prices and good food. Before deciding to write this piece I checked the reviews and was surprised that no one found the issues I had.
The villa is lovely but upon closer inspection, all is not as seems. First, the villa is too accessible, yes you can lock up but it’s quite open.. Forget to lock one of the many doors and you never know who may get in, but Grenada is relatively safe and crime is rare. Unfortunately, when it rains and it does, it pours into the house and beware it floods the top twin room. The rooms are somewhat stunning with great views but marred by the lack of essential finesse. i.e getting rid of things that have mould on them. Structurally, the house could have been built with the ability to let drain water, as it stands there are no slants so it builds up until the sun can dry it out.. And that my friends brings the pesky mosquitoes. The house is a haven for them. So bring lots of repellents if you stay there.
The housekeeper is too diligent, way too much and I didn’t appreciate the unannounced visits. The housekeeper literally let herself in when she felt like it. Irrespective of what anyone was doing and she also went through our stuff, rearranged and packed how she saw fit. On our first night we got shown around and then she and her friend left. Around an hour later they came back, just let themselves in and walked around they didn’t even announce themselves. Secondly, the housekeeper had a habit of bringing who happens to be with her. In the first night, her male friend came in and switched on the TV in the other room, turned it up loud and started watching the Olympics? Did not even ask if it was ok.
Please a note to the owners, respect for privacy please or were we not trusted?
In saying that it was relatively easy to order a taxi to get to and from the address even if so far and was inexpensive and the housekeeper happily helped with any request.
Accommodation | Siesta Hotel
I wanted to experience a budget hotel on purpose to check out the quality of the smaller hotels and after much research, I settled on the Siesta, a modest 3-star hotel. However, in reality, what we got was below standard room, at best a daily dirty pool laden with dead bugs.. Not what you want to swim in right? Better still a broken middle step for the pool and left hanging.. It’s metal. Hello.. hotel danger alert!
We had a very basic room at ground level which I felt was easily accessible to burglars., due to insufficient locks. A fridge which was just shoved into a space, but not properly fitted in. Two single beds with a sheet for a cover, with the main quilts thrown on top of the wardrobe. The AC was decent though and worked. Trust me, that AC saved us many times from the intense heat. There is no soundproofing either in the hotel rooms, so you can’t get jiggy if you are with a partner. Unless you like an audience.. So you muffle or stifle. Our neighbours were an odd couple. They watched the tv loud and were vocally very loud. One night saw a total meltdown by the wife, who sobbed hysterically. Who knows what he did wrong! Next are the efficient cleaners who bang down your door to let you know they are ready regardless of whether you are. However, it must have been the only hotel not to have any services Monday or Tuesday so the staff can enjoy carnival!
The saving grace of this hotel was the pleasant staff and the little gem of a restaurant called La Papillon. Great food and good prices too. The service you get is apparent and totally different from the local restaurants. However, beware as you may not like the service that you are sometimes given.
Surprisingly good non-local food in Grenada. I even found a sushi bar with proper Japanese chefs preparing the food. Normally, I am quite fussy when it comes to sushi, but it looked good and was being prepared in front of me. It was very good value for money and a menu full of choice. In all, I was happy to pay a bit more for my meal and enjoyed it thoroughly. There were other reasonably priced restaurants nearby who just as equally as good. I could not complain about the food choices, even away from the hub of eateries, you could find numerous local food stalls all along the way into town, should you want to taste the exquisite Grenadian home flavours.
We had the luxury of being located near a shopping centre which also conveniently housed the local supermarket. Akin to the Tesco’s supremo superstores, it stocks everything and most things British. Tesco’s and Waitrose stocked products there, so you could practically shop home from home.
Getting around in Grenada is relatively easy and cheap. There are buses that connect to everywhere and everyone will help or direct you. The buses will stop anywhere you are visibly seen and will cram you into one of those buses. They like to ensure they are full, always….. so don’t think that you will ever get a comfortable ride, but it’s cheap!
Taxis are always buzzing around and once you got dollars, you can get home easily. No one seems to be out to overcharge either and people are just too friendly and helpful. Please don’t let us tourists spoil this…
Grenada ‘SpiceMas’ Carnival
There is so much feting to do in Grenada. You can never get bored if you’re not partying, plus there are some amazing sights to take in and behold. In fact, the only thing the country can be accused of is too much feting, if there such a thing? Indeed Grenada is not for the faint-hearted or novice feter. This level of feting will hurt you on an unprecedented level. Fete after fete is true and it’s not just local to St George’s. St Davids also come alive on the Tuesday after carnival, where they have paint mas. Yes, dutty mas all over again. Grenville seems the place to lime with a few of bands that chip all the way back there for a liming session. A few of the bands have permission to pit stop on the Tuesday in town, i.e procession done, then its time to jam on the road. The masqueraders then stay on the road for more dancing as their energy never sways.
One very noticeable aspect of the carnival is the number of young children around. Late at night, early in the morning feting with everyone else. Teenagers, young kids and mothers with babies are not missing out and on the road. So, in essence, Grenada is a great place to party with your children and no one bats an eyelid if your out with your 2-year-old at 4am in the morning!….and these kids can party like the adults too.
The Jab jab!
Jab jab is so different to the succulent sweet vibes of the Trini sounds or the harsh jooking of the bim hard wine. Jab jab is infectious, the rhythms are keen and more of steady stride of chipping. The jab jab themes are a focus throughout most of the carnival and Grenadian songs – clearly proud of these traditional roots, which are infectiously mimicked throughout jouvert.
Feting in Grenada|Extreme White Party
This was the party to beat. Although I initially was disappointed to learn that a similar fete was organised in the country, that went on later and all the artist’s from this fete went to that fete after. Put it this way, where I was at the national stadium, finished at 8am the following day. In the country, it went on until midday the following day. Was I in the wrong place? Yes. I couldn’t disagree more, maybe the other party went on longer, but this one arguably, at the time, was the best fete. Kes the band was billed and on stage for over an hour and he was best of the night. He rocked the stage and the venue. We were treated to a host of top Soca and reggae artists who had the crowd hyped until the end. Taxis were plentiful outside the venue and reasonable prices to get back to the villa.
Spicemas: Monday Morning Mas |Jab Jab forever Mas Band, St Georges
You would think that booking in advance would save you any worry. Alas, not this was not meant to be and a bucket load of errors should have warned me. The overall experience with Jab Jab forever was quite poor considering they were one of the bigger bands. So whilst I am not recommending this band, we luckily stumbled upon the Release D’Riddim crew and Summercrew mas band Once we got to them, that was it.. Party done. Our UK friends were with this band and since we could not find Jab Jab Forever we stayed with Summercrew on the road.
Tip: Look up summercrew and Release D’Riddim mas band on your visit to Grenada for carnival
Suffice to say, I am glad I did as I had a ball. The music was on point with all the latest tracks from Barbados, Trinidad and Grenada – we had the crowd rocking at all times. Oil was always around, I kid you not. You could not walk far, or be clean for too long. If there was no oil, there was no shortage of paint and in our band, it was chocolate. A huge drum bin..filled..with chocolate. Any unsuspecting revellers would get dipped at any time. Unfortunately, they caught me in a vulnerable state and before I could scream, I was dipped waist high in. I thought I would hate it, but it was fun and surprisingly lovely. Subsequently, I was caught in a subconscious fantasy. I suddenly loved playing in chocolate! In all seriousness, I was hauled out and trudged along in my choco-holic state.
Spotting a river in the near distance seemed like a mirage to a thirsty camel and we almost ran to it, fearing it would disappear.
We were not alone in our thoughts, quite a number aligned the river to wash off remnants of oil, paint and chocolate, we stayed forever. Bless that river.
Spicemas Monday night Mas | Magic Amazing Colours
The jouvert t-shirts for Monday night mas are relatively easy to purchase. You just need to get into town and there are numerous vendors selling Monday night mas packages. Each vendor does not vary too much in price and all provided essentially the same package, in terms of a fun back pack. The only downside was not knowing the right band choice, as vibes are important on the road. With us not really knowing, we took a guess at Magic Amazing colours and went with what t-shirt or package felt right.
However, this night was a personal highlight of mine. Simply beautiful and magnetic. I cannot put into words what I experienced, but you literally roll up in your t-shirt (albeit customised) and light enriched items, that is headgear, light wand, glasses and any other flashing items. Everyone gets involved and walking into a sea of lights, rhythmic music, dancing, rum in the air, everyone enjoying themselves and smiles.. you just could not beat that moment.
On the road was just as fun, the band was organised and had good DJ’s, drinks rolled on constantly and the entire band were extremely friendly and approachable. I could not ask for a better experience to be honest. This was my first time on the road in Grenada and it surpassed what I thought would be a great experience. So thank you Magic!
Grenada Spicemas Tuesday Costume Parade
Well after feting in Barbados and then straight on to Grenada, I woke up on Tuesday and my feet were not talking to me. They shut me out, “get lost,” they said. A few more hours later, they gave in and allowed me to walk to the door, where the sun hit me and so my body intervened and said, “I am siding with the feet, you’re not getting much out of me today”. So off I sauntered back to bed. Feting defeated me, I missed carnival.
I did not mind so much as I was not playing mas, however at around 8pm long after the sun had set, we decided to venture out. I suppose at that time you realise it is the end of the carnival, and the only bands you find are the ones that are allowed to set down and play music. Tuesday also seems to draw a young crowd, teenagers, in fact, line the streets long after carnival is done each gender checking each other out.
The air was full of love and good vibes so got the feeling that the carnival was a success, despite not experiencing it.
Begrudgingly I left on a Thursday to come home but with a smile as Grenada Spicemas was one of the best carnivals I had experienced and I would go again in heartbeat. In the meantime, Grenada keeps on calling me and one day I will go back.