Monday, June 13, 2011

Turtles, Saltfish and Liming - Oh my!

We weren't so lucky with the turtle sighting, but NatGeo is!
The other night as Scott and I were walking back from customs, Danny, the marketing director here at Port Louis Marina (our latest sponsor and home for the next few months) walked up to us and said, "My friends and I are going to the beach to see the turtles?  Want to join?"

The answer, obviously, was an unequivocal, resounding "yes!!".

We hopped in his open Land Rover (affectionately renamed JahRover - my kind of car!) and off we went.  Unfortunately, we didn't get very far as his beautiful beast wasn't running up to speed.  Luckily for us - his wise friends had seen this coming and brought a bigger car (we should have known when they yelled, "You're taking that?  Has it ever gone more than five miles?").  It was fun while it lasted.

The drive was magnificent and took us through lush, green hills, past sheer rock faces, along the coves of the coast and through vibrant little villages.  The contour of the land here is spectacular and the road dips, winds and hair-pin turns along the earth like roller coaster.

Apparently it's turtle season here and, if you are lucky, you will arrive at the beach where you will see the magnificent, ancient leatherbacks on shore quietly laying eggs or slowly retreating back to the water.  If you are really lucky you might even see baby hatchlings scooting down the beach as they follow their incredible, lunar-lead instincts to the ocean.  While males spend their lives at sea, the female returns to the beach where she was born to reproduce. The female's nesting ritual is arduous - after travelling over 7,000 miles during their "migration" period (the time it takes for them to reach sexual maturity), they mate at sea and journey back to the beach where they come ashore to lay their eighty or so eggs.   The nighttime ritual involves the females excavating a hole in the sand to lay their eggs in, leaving a large, disturbed patch of beach in their wake.

We arrived at the beach at 7:45pm under a waxing gibbous moon.  The six of us started walking along the shore, looking for signs of turtles.  While we did not see any turtles - we did see evidence of hatchlings everywhere.  Gaping holes in the sand peppered with the shell remains of baby leatherbacks were every hundred yards or so.  It was incredible to know that out of this nest, tiny turtles fought their way out of their paper-thin shells to begin their journey to the sea.  While didn't see the turtles themselves, we knew they were there.  This alone was beautiful.

We laid on the beach, listening to the waves lap up on shore, digging in the warm sand with our toes as we relaxed under the moonlit night.  The clouds zipped by under the moon's glow and the stars began to dot the sky around us.  After thirty minutes or so we all decided, "Lets eat!".

Back in the car we zipped along the windy road, again passing village after village.  It was Friday night and people were out en-masse having a good time.  Music playing, people liming (local term for "hanging out"), and vendors selling their catch in little stalls along the road.

Not my photo, but this is bake and saltfish
We eventually made it to "Fish Friday" in the town of Gouyave where, every Friday, they close off the main road and vendors set up stalls to sell everything fish.  It's incredible. Saltfish, mahi mahi, fish roti, fried fish, fish name it, they sell it.  Delicious aromas fill the air, music is pumping, and food is everywhere.  For less than $10 US you can get a meal for two.  I finally had 'saltfish and bake' which is a local dish that involves fried bread stuffed with a tuna-fish type filling.  It is delicious.

With full bellies and sleepy eyes, we made our way back to the boat.

We had heard that Grenada - or "spice island" as it is known - was 'special'.  So many cruisers, when they heard of our plans to remain here for hurricane season, told us that we would love it.  That is it different than the other islands.  That it is one of those places.

I think we agree.

Brittany & Scott

1 comment:

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