Monday, May 18, 2009

Honeymoon, Day 4 (Thursday)

Thursday was pretty awesome. We started by heading back up into the mountains in the center of Grenada to visit Grand Etang Lake. Grand Etang is a lake formed in the crater of a volcano, some 1,700 feet about sea level. The drive up there was harrowing, more by the narrowness of the roads and speed of the local than by being on a mountain. But when we arrived, we found that we were the only ones there! Well, there was briefly one other tourist couple and their taxi driver, but they weren't around for long. Before they left, we spoke to them some. I mentioned to the driver that I had read that the lake was rumored to be bottomless (even though it was really only 18 feet at the deepest part). He confirmed that such was the tale, saying that if you drown in Grand Etang your body ends up at St. Vincent, another island miles away. "But that's all myth," he told us.

We tried to take the path that looped around the lake, but found it to be pretty muddy; we weren't properly prepared for that. There was another hiking trail that was much more strenuous, taking you to the top of the mountain, but we weren't up for that, either. So we just took some nice pictures of the lake and enjoyed the view.

There were a visitor center and museum almost right around the corner. It really was quite surprising to see that area swamped with tourists when no one was actually going to visit the lake. There were lots of taxis and tour buses which, we assume, had picked up guests from the cruise ships. But none of them went the few hundred extra yards to see the actual lake! (We made it a point to avoid the tourists in our pictures. You'll have to trust me when I say it was packed.)

Next, we traveled to Belmont Estate, a functioning plantation. We had a delicious lunch, including sorrel juice for 2nd, and ginger beer for me. For dessert, we had soursop ice cream. One of the main things they grow at Belmont Estate is cocoa. We got a tour of the estate from a guide named Ward, particularly seeing how they process the cocoa. We got to suck cocoa beans straight from the pod (the white goo is sweet, but don't bite the bean -- it's very bitter), see how they ferment the beans for several days, and see how they dry the beans evenly in the sun. Then we got to taste a dried cocoa bean -- the dark chocolate taste was very strong! We bought a few bars of dark chocolate (the estate only processes the beans, but the Grenada Chocolate Company still makes the dark chocolate on the island). I'm not sure of the reasons why, but Ward told us that the pure dark chocolate won't melt. In fact, we left the bars in our jeep all the rest of the day and they are all still fine!

Next we headed to a couple beaches to the north, on the east shore -- Bathway Beach and Levera Bay. Some of the roads were pretty rough, making us grateful again for having a jeep. Bathway Beach had a decent crowd (i.e., a few dozen people), but Levera Bay was nearly deserted. Finally, we headed to Sauteurs to see Carib's Leap, the cliff from which the natives lept to their deaths after being defeated by the French. We got there before 5, if I recall, but Carib's Leap was already closed. But we still had a great view of the bay and the town.

After all of that traveling, we headed back to our hotel. It had been another long day, so we settled in and relaxed for the evening.