Monday, January 25, 2016

Grenada: Grant Etang National Park

Monday, Day 17

The good news this morning was that I made it through the night without getting sick.  The extra good news is that there weren't dogs and chickens and loud music all night!  Felt so good to get some sleep.  And sleep I did.  Didn't get out of bed until after 8 and then took my sweet time getting around.  I'm getting accustomed to 10 hours of sleep a night and loving every minute of it. 

Had some muesli/oatmeal stuff for breakfast, and a piece of bread with organic pb and a banana on it. ..and an Ensure drink I found at the market yesterday.  (When you've been sick for as long as I have, you have to try something...)

Sat around and caught up on news online and looked at pictures on my phone.  Just relaxed for awhile.  Finally left the house around 10:30 to head up to Grand Etang National Park for the day. 

It looked close on the map, and despite Maudlin's warnings not to, we took the scooter up anyways.  Why I wouldn't listen to a locals advice is beyond me.  I'm just that stubborn sometimes. ;)  The roads was super steep and super windy, and not in the best condition, but passable.

On the way up, I saw a sign for the Annandale waterfall, so took a little detour to check that one out.  Why not, right?  And as soon as I got off the scooter...I saw this guy there!

I didn't want to support it.  A local man caught this poor monkey and kept him as his pet, but I just had to get a picture with him -- and paid him to do it.  He was such a friendly little guy.  Had a rope tied around his back legs that made me so sad. :(  But I love monkeys!!!

Anyways, that waterfall was a little too touristy for me.  I mean it was beautiful and much bigger and higher than the pictures let on.  You can't really get a feel for size without a person in the pic for reference I guess, but it was high.

The ticket guy wasn't there yet so we got in for free, thank goodness.  It was all of a one minute walk down a sidewalk to the falls, and there were people trying to sell you stuff and get your money the whole way.  Short stop, but still, a beautiful spot.

Continued up up up the road in to Grand Etang National Park.  I've never been anywhere more green and lush in all my life.  And Zach and Leta (back in Trini) told us that you can literally smell the spices on the island.  I hadn't really smelled it until right when we pulled off the side of the road to take in all the sights, and sure enough, you really could smell cinnamon and nutmeg and who knows what else.  But it smelled delicious -- in the middle of nowhere with nothing but trees around!

OH and the weather!  It was hot and sunny down in St. George's along the coast, but the higher we got in to the mountains, the colder it got.  And then it was all cloudy and windy and I was wishing I had brought pants and a coat!  Crazy how it changed so fast from beach to rainforest.

Anyways, I paid for the entrance ticket ($2 USD) and continued in to Grant Etang Lake.  I don't know what I was expecting, but I was just a little disappointed.  I mean, it's just a very small lake.  Nothing pretty, nothing special.

(Funny side note:  Local legend says Grand Etang Lake has no bottom.  It's endless.  However, local scientists have proven the depth to be 18 feet.  HAHAHA!)

Another short stop and continued on to what I really wanted to see:  Seven Sisters Waterfall.
Missed the entrance the first time.  The signage was not so good.  But the locals are so very helpful here and whenever they see a tourist they direct you the right way.  Several times people would holler or point on the way up at a cross street to tell the direction.  

Turns out you have to pay again to hike to this waterfall because it is on private property.  AND you have to pay to park.  UGH.  Fine.  But AND you have to pay for a guide, too!?  I don't know about that.  But the group coming back had a guide, and I remembered reading something about it being a good idea to have one.  So after debating and talking, I finally just said fine, let's go, I'll pay you your $15 USD.

I definitely could have found the trail on my own, but the guide was worth it.  He explained things along the way, like all about the spice trees.  Grenada is known as the "Spice Island" because all the spices are grown here.  We saw nutmeg and cashew trees, pineapple and banana and coconut, and the most interesting of all was a cinnamon tree.  I had no idea you had to literally scrape the bark to get the powder cinnamon we have back home.  Talk about work!  I have a new appreciate for that.  AND you an crunch up the leaves and just smell the strong aroma.  So cool.

(The last one is cinnamon!)

Another interesting fact:  bamboo is razor sharp if cut off, super strong, and grows up to 2 inches a day!  A DAY!!

Back to the was steep and muddy, but still, I could have found it.  I did see another group coming back up along the way and they had a guide, too, so I wasn't feeling so bad about spending the money.

The waterfall was just gorgeous.  Two big cascading falls down in to two pools.  First questions I asked:  Can you jump?  He said yes, so off we went!

The first pool (the lower one) wasn't too high - maybe 10-15 feet or so?  It always looks higher when you're standing up there, but it was nothing.

Then I asked him to take me up high.  And man did he ever.  The hike was seriously straight up for the first couple of minutes.  I mean just crawling and pulling, using tree roots as foot holds and the vines to pull you up.  It was awesome - one of my favorite things.  There wasn't even a trail back there, I was just following him along.  He said it was "his backyard."  I tried to take a video of the second half of the hike to the top of the falls, but the video is pretty awful because I had to just let the GoPro hang off my wrist several times so I could jump or swing down or whatever.  I'll get it up on YouTube -- it's 10 minutes long and terrible quality, just a warning.

Okay so not only did he take me to the top of the Seven Sisters, but he took me way further back in to the rainforest and we ended up doing two more small jumps back there as we followed the river back up to the main jump.  Oh I Just loved it.  :)

When we finally got to the top of the big jump, I was just a little taken back.  It seriously looked so much higher up there, haha!  But once you're there, you can't think about it too much.  You have to just do it.  I couldn't hold the GoPro, too.  It was too distracting.  So I ended up tossing it down to my guide in the water below (he jumped before me) and then he recorded my jump.  So exhilarating and my favorite thing I've done on the trip I think!  Anything for a little rush. ;)  (Here's the video of that...)

Almost as soon as I swam out and was back on solid land, it started raining.  Imagine that.  Raining in the rain forest.  I was already soaked so there really wasn't any point in hiding out under a tree or whatever, so we hiked back.  It cleared up shortly anyways.

Made a couple of other stops on the ride back down, a few short hikes to some lookout points.  Nothing as good as the waterfall in my book though!

And the ride down wasn't easy.  Straight down, sharp curves, and wet slick roads.  (Definitely should have listened to Maudlin and just taken the local bus.)

Had a very quick stop at the local grocery store right at 5 - rush hour took forever to get through town and by the bus station - and ate a very late lunch/dinner back at the apartment, then took off again.



Back to Grand Anse beach to talk to a dive shop, then up the western coast to Flamingo Bay for sunset.  But it looked like the bay curved just a little too much and we would miss the actual sun going down...

...So back in to town and then up north to try and find a higher up lookout point.  Ended up at some hole in the wall bar with a balcony, but the sunset didn't do anything so it didn't matter.  Clouds rolled in and it just went down behind them.

The interesting thing about the night was the owner of the bar.  He was telling us about the violence in Grenada and to be safe.  And then told us about a Canadian woman who got murdered there last month.  And a couple from Georgia who got to Grenada on Saturday, and on Sunday (like yesterday) they were walking along the beach and a man jumped out of the trees and raped and murdered her.  39 years old.  First day of vacation. No joke.  Right there in broad daylight, not far from where the tourists were sitting.  I thought for sure he was making that up.

Went back to the apartment and you better believe that was the first thing looked up.  And sure enough, it was all over the news.  Not sure if it made the news in the US or not, but it happened.  Right here.  Yesterday.  Definitely does not make me feel safe.  And neither does the fact that the vast majority of the men here (I'll refrain from using ALL) constantly stare and cat call and whistle and make suggestive gestures towards me.  I"m talking everything from small school aged boys (think grade school) yelling "Hey sexy" to me, to old men winking and whistling.  I don't get it.  Is it a cultural thing?  I mean it's all over.  And what do they hope to accomplish from that?  Has a white woman ever actually stopped and given any attention to that?  I would hope not, but apparently it has worked at some point in time for them or it wouldn't still be happening.  It's slightly uncomfortable to be a woman here, and this is supposedly not one of the worst islands for it!  Maudlin told me St. Vincent (my next stop) is!  So I guess it is about to get worse.  Awesome. ;)

Enough of that rant...

So I was really looking forward to a warm shower tonight.  Hopped in, turned the water on, and BOOM!  The top of the hot water heater exploded off and the shower head cracked all the way down!  Ha!  Guess no shower tonight!

Maudlin was out but said she would be back in 20 minutes.  About an hour and a half later, she showed up with some handy man who replaced the shower head, but couldn't get the hot water heater to work.  UGH!  Back to cold showers!

While I waited, I did arrange for two nice couch surfing hosts in St. Vincent.  Girls from the US, at that.  So that makes me feel a little better about that place, since it is apparently known for violence against women.

So like I said, all the shower stuff took way longer than I was wanting.  It was a late shower and a later bedtime for me.  And by later, I think it was like 10pm, haha.  Like I said, I'm getting accustomed to my 10 hours of sleep here. ;)

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