We arrived in Grenada on Saturday, January 7th, and spent the first week sightseeing and doing some touristy things. What I love most about traveling, though, is getting to know the local people and learning about the different ways that they live and work and play. One of my favorite things to do when I travel to a new place is to find a local grocery store/market and just walk down the aisles and marvel at the different food items and products that they have. I remember during our time in France, I was just in awe when I walked down an entire aisle devoted to cheese. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven (It was seriously that awesome. They even subdivided the aisle into different cheese types, like bries, appetizer cheeses, cooking cheeses, etc.) Anyway, I thought it'd be fun to give you a few observations that I've made thus far about this beautiful island that we now call home.
Surprisingly, we've found that most of the food here is quite expensive. In fact, we've found that most things are at least as expensive as home, and sometimes are 3-4 times as much. A large part of this is because most things need to be imported into the island, so everything is marked up quite a bit. For example, a friend of ours recently purchased a single bell pepper from the grocery store the other day. Guess how much she paid? It cost $15EC, which comes out to about $6USD! Crazy ridiculous.
So local food must be much cheaper, right? Yes and no. We've found a few items - things like bananas, mangoes, papayas, and eggplants that are relatively inexpensive (less than $1/lb), but I honestly still pay less for them in the US (maybe not the papayas). I know we've been spoiled the past few years having super fresh, plentiful, affordable produce in California, so I'm slowly adjusting to the price differences. I do appreciate the farm-fresh eggs that are available every Tuesday on campus! They come out to about $3 for a dozen, but hey, it's local and organic. :P
The most commonly found meat item here is chicken, but even that is hard to find fresh. Most grocery stores carry only frozen meats, and it usually consists of about 70% chicken, 15% pork, 10% beef, and about 5% seafood. We did visit the fish market in town this weekend and were able to buy some super fresh fish that we hope will last a few meals!
If you're interested in hearing more about the food in Grenada, and well as some recipes that I'll be sharing in the future, make sure to stay up to date on the food blog that my sis and I have.
Since we moved to the island, we've discovered that everything seems to move much slower here. Everything, that is, except the buses. These mini-buses or "reggae" buses, as some people call them (because of the reggae music that the drivers listen to, although we've heard everything from Adele to hip hop), fit anywhere from 14-20 people, depending on how many people you can cram into a row. Each row technically has 3 seats (2 stationery and 1 fold-down), but I've seen them cram 5 people into a row before. Oh, and don't worry about seat-belts for each passenger; none of the buses here have them in the back.
So the way these buses work is that each bus has a driver and a second helper whose job it is to look out for potential passengers, open/close the sliding bus door, adjust seating arrangements to maximize bus space, collect bus fares, and exchange greetings/insults with other bus drivers/helpers. As the buses wind their way through narrow, curvy roads at dangerously high speeds, they honk their horns sporadically at seemingly random times. In fact, as I've been told, a honk in Grenada can mean many things: I have space! Do you need a ride? Watch out, I'm coming around the corner! You're too slow - I'm passing you. Hello! And of course, Get out of my way!
The weather here is a balmy 80°F pretty much year-round. There are basically two seasons: wet and dry. Apparently, we're in the dry season right now, but things have been pretty wet around here. We've gotten showers almost everyday, but they mostly last between 5-15 minutes, and then get sunny again. As such, we try to keep an umbrella in our bags when we go out, and even some emergency ponchos that we were told to bring. It can be pretty warm on sunny days, but it's still quite comfortable in the shade. Particularly if that shade happens to be under a palm tree by the beach. :D The water really is incredible, as all of our friends have told us. It is this beautiful shade of turquoise, and the temperature is just warm enough that it's comfortable, but just cool enough that it's still refreshing.
We've been told that Grenadians are some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet. When you pass people in the streets, it's customary to offer a greeting. It's considered rude if you ignore someone. When we get on the buses, we try to remember to say hello and thank you to our bus drivers, and the same goes for our grocery store clerks too. When I was at the grocery store the other day, one of the workers passed by and checked if I was doing okay. I asked him about some of the local foods, and he started explaining some recipes to me. An elderly lady passed by and joined our conversation, adding in her version of the recipe. I was surprised by their friendliness and eagerness to help. Tourism is the #1 industry in Grenada, so I guess the locals are all usually very friendly and happy to meet foreigners.
As I've mentioned before, life moves at a very slow pace in Grenada. Everybody seems to be very relaxed all the time, nobody's in a hurry, and life is just super chill. Most stores and business are closed on Sunday, and banks are closed the entire weekend. Many businesses close shop quite early on the weekdays too, some even at 2 o'clock. This can get frustrating sometimes, especially with the med students who don't seem to have very many minutes to spare in their days. For me, it's been a welcome change of pace. I'm finding unusual joy and satisfaction in doing mundane tasks these days. Tasks like taking a trip to the grocery store or cooking a meal seem to take twice as long here, but I've been learning to enjoy the process.
We miss home and all our friends and family dearly, but I think we're excited for what God has in store for us these next two years.
I'll try to update frequently about our life here on this island, but I do hope to get back into craft and DIY posts too. Resources are scarce and different here, so we'll see how I can make do!
I'll leave you with a few glimpses of our life here. :)
in St. George's
hiking through the rainforest
fresh fish from the market
and Grenadian cheese!