The morning makes up.
As in so many others, foreigners disembarked from a cruise wander from stall to stall, poking their noses at the spices that the island has long produced.
A couple asks a vendor to smell the best nutmeg in Grenada.
Owner of more than sixty years and patient, the merchant gives them a prodigious sample.
Also give them anise, cinnamon, ginger and turmeric to test. The couple lingers. Instead of buying, proceed with your demand.
When he leaves the stall, it reveals another concern for the seller, apart from the excess of outsiders who analyze his spices and leave without buying them.
With a Rastafarian-influenced look, adorned by a colorful necklace hanging below a white beard and from which a large brown seed hangs, the man is an apologist for the benefits of natural substances. “Let's discuss the real issues. The legalization of recreational cannabis..." proposes a stripe.
Market Square is just the gateway to Grenada's spicy world of spices.
Saint George and Grenada: A History Spiced by Spices
An assortment of colors, textures and flavors in such a sensorial and impressive way that the creators of English-speaking tourist texts and buzzwords attributed deserved puns to it: “the spice and easy island","at Grenada, just take it spice and easy".
Like the name of the city and of some of its places, the title of Spice Island was due to King George III of Great Britain.
In the early XNUMXth century, as in the surrounding West Indies, settlers sought to profit from sugar cane, cocoa and cotton plantations.
George III's botanical adviser warned him, however, that the climate and soil of Grenada were special, ideal for planting spices that, with great effort, the Portuguese and their colonial competitors from the Old World went to "discover" in the confines of from the East.
Towards the middle of the XNUMXth century, the British “diverted” seeds from the Dutch Banda Islands and began to produce spices in Grenada.
First nutmeg and mace, then cloves, ginger, cinnamon and others, in ever-increasing and more profitable quantities.
At one point, Granada provided more than 40% of the nutmeg consumed in the world.
We find it all over the island. In Saint George, even the floor that surrounds a trailer bar where we have lunch is made of nutmeg shells.
The British coup in the then Dutch near-monopoly involved another advantage. Grenada was less distant from Europe than the Dutch West Indies in which the Netherlands tried to replicate eastern production: Saint Martin, Saba, Saint Eustace, Aruba, Curaçao.
A vast and lavish House built with the Wealth of Spices
The various blessings together, based on the work of slaves kidnapped in Africa, made Grenada one of the richest Lesser Antilles.
As we can see when walking up and down the countless slopes, the island's richness is concentrated on the slopes, here and there, still green in its old capital.
From Market Square we follow the appeal of a prominent church steeple. At the top intersection of St. John and Church, we find the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, part of the unlikely religious duo that forms with the Cathedral of Saint George at its feet.
They are both neighbors of York House, former House of Parliament, from the 2004th century until Cyclone Ivan passed through the island in XNUMX.
Category 3, over Grenada, Category 5 upon arrival in Cuba, this hurricane left the building in the ruins that we have seen.
So degraded that it required the building of a new parliament.
There are as many secular buildings in Saint George as the hurricanes that torment it.
The ruins of the city would not end there.
We walk to the north entrance of the Sendall Tunnel, dug in 1894 as a shortcut to Wharf Rd and the entrance to the inner harbor of Saint George, better known as its Carenage.
Ascent to the Walled Heights of Fort George
Instead of entering it, we went up a winding staircase.
The conquest of a prominent peninsular hill at the entrance of both city ports, its main military structure, fortified to match.
Like the capital and cathedral, the fort also served the purpose of honoring King George III. It is thus called Fort George.
At its top, a platform supports a battery of cannons aimed at the Bay of Saint George, two cruise ships and the largest sailboat in the world, all anchored there.
From the top, also protected by the headquarters of the Royal Grenada Police Force, we can appreciate the white and pastel houses worn by the tropical sun, rippling up the slopes.
How would we prove on site, Saint George extends right up to the walls of the much more distant and elevated Fort Frederick, known as the “backward facing fort” because the predecessor colonists, the French, pointed their cannons towards the interior of the island.
We were not yet dispatched from its coastal counterpart.
We ventured into its most unlikely corners, among communications antennas, clotheslines full of dark blue uniforms and the local lighthouse tower, in obvious danger of collapsing.
Saint Andrew Church Tower and the Destruction Caused by Hurricane Ivan
Which brings us back to the link between the monumental ruins of Saint George and hurricanes.
We wind our way from the fort towards the heart of the city, along part of the ring road Grand Etang Rd.
Almost arriving at its base, we see, detached from it, what was left of a tower with battlements and four peaks.
Until 2004, this precariously balanced tower completed the once hyperactive St. Andrews.
Ivan, the terrible cyclone that year, knocked it down almost completely.
Into Sendall Tunnel towards Carenage de Saint George
The walk takes us back to the Sendall Tunnel entrance. We cross it on foot to Carenage.
And to a complex of colonial buildings in which the authorities of Grenada installed the Ministry of Finance and services dependent on it.
The only professional posts on the island that require a shirt and suit.
Along Wharf Rd. outside, we embarked on a walk around the inner port of Saint George and his activities, mainly nautical, blessed by the hands to heaven of the statue of Christ of the Abyss.
Over there, sailors load and unload cargo, including a small reticent herd of goats.
A larger vessel smokes without apparent sense.
This is the Osprey ferry that connects to Carriacou, the largest island in the Grenadines archipelago, about 65km to the north.
With so much still to explore in Grenada, we leave it for a second trip to the Lesser Antilles.
The Indigenous Bustle of Market Square
On the way back, we took a different slope, that of Young Street, which the House of Chocolate museum gave a pleasant chocolate aroma.
The follow-up leaves us at the top of Market Square, at that afternoon hour, with the cruises already set sail or departing, given over to a frenzy that is entirely native.
Afro-descendants of Grenadians, blacks, as we could see from their clothes, the decorations and the bright facades of the businesses, were serious fans of color.
In ethnic terms, Granada differs little from the neighboring Lesser Antilles.
A Population of Slavery Origins Liberated by the Abolition of Slavery
In a time prior to the definitive British abolition of slavery (1833), powerful farm families and other related subjects of Her Majesty cohabited on the island.
Below, in greater numbers, an enslaved crowd served them.
The Abolition of Slavery dictated the freedom of slaves, but also, at a glance, the profitable unviability of the plantations that the colonial masters maintained.
A good part of the great slave proprietors returned to the metropolis.
Grenada declared its independence in Saint George only in 1974.
The US Anti-Communist Invasion of Grenada
An intricate politico-military struggle ensued.
In 1983, the United States led an anti-Communist and anti-Soviet alliance to remove Maurice Bishop, leader of the leftist coup d'état, from power and to restore constitutional government.
For two years, he consolidated it as a peacekeeping force.
Since then, Granada has been ruled by the descendants of the nation's most powerful and wealthy slaves, some with possessions and power comparable to those of the ancients. slave masters.
And a Rare Apology and Compensation for Slavery
Just a few months ago, Dickon Mitchel, the young Prime Minister of Grenada, hosted Laura Trevelyan in Saint George.
The BBC's New York correspondent traveled to Grenada to apologize officially and pay reparations for the slavery past of her ancestors, owners of six sugar cane plantations and more than a thousand slaves.
Dickon Mitchel and Saint George thanked the visitor for the 100 thousand pounds that the visitor offered to establish a Community Fund for the economic development of the island.
By our count, insufficient to recover the damage caused by Hurricane Ivan.