A trip to
G r e n a d a

by Omar Siddique

I recently returned from a 9 day trip to the Caribbean, visiting the island nation of Grenada with my friends Yvonne and Susan.

About Grenada

Grenada is the southernmost of the Windward islands in the Caribbean. It's actually the southernmost island in the Caribbean, period, except the islands off the coast of Venezuela. The nation consists of Grenada itself and several smaller islands in the Grenadines. Grenada is about twice the size of Washington, D.C., and is a volcanic island. That means it has terrain -- it's not one of those flat coral islands. The highest peak is 2730 feet above sea level!

The island is rife with lush vegetation (except the dry south end) and all manner of tropical fruits grow there. It rains as much as 160 inches a year in the rainforest carpeted mountains. This close to the equator, the year-round temperatures are consistent, with highs in the 80's (F) and lows in the 70's (F). When we were there, it rained frequently, but briefly, and usually at night, so it never gave the impression of being "rainy". If you're curious, check the current weather in Grenada.

The people are friendly English speakers (they speak their English with a delightful Caribbean accent!). The nation gained independance in 1973 and is a member of the British commonwealth. Total population is under 100,000.

Click on the map to see Grenada's location.

Interesting Things about Grenada

Grenada is the world's second largest supplier of nutmeg. Hence the nutmeg fruit on the flag.

Grenada shares a currency, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, and a central bank, with a number of other Caribbean nations. When I was there, the exchange rate was roughly $2.65EC = $1US.
  Click on currency to see larger images

Driving in Grenada

And since Grenada was formerly a British territory, they drive on the same side of the road as the Brits... From an American perspective, that's the wrong side! Many of the roads have large pot-holes, and there are many steep roads and sharp curves on this hilly island. To make things even more exciting the local drivers are aggressive, squeezing through tiny spaces, and driving on the wrong side of the road such that it seems they're playing "chicken" with you (they aren't). The drivers of the local buses (which are mini-vans) are the worst. Pedestrians, dogs, and the occasional chicken are on the roads too, since there aren't sidewalks anywhere but in the capital city.

Yvonne and I did the driving on this trip (she did 70% of the driving). For the first two days we had a Toyota Corolla with too many miles and not enough horsepower, and a Suzuki Samauri for the duration. You can see the Suzuki below. So, picture this. Me, driving a strange vehicle, with a standard transmission (I drive automatic usually), on the wrong side of the road, bumping through large potholes and trying not to run into things. Did I mention it didn't have power steering? Yvonne and Susan got a good laugh out of all this.

The little Suzuki was good on gas and plenty powerful, but it handled terribly, fighting the driver on every turn, and the ride in the back was horribly bouncy.

Our Suzuki
Click to see larger image

On to the vacation.
Proceed to Day 1.

Comments? Send them to me: omar@umbc.edu.
All photographs and text are © 2000 by Omar Siddique and may not be reproduced without permission.