Learn how to “Lime” on the Spice Island of the Caribbean4 min read
Cosmos (my discreetly hilarious tour guide) squeezes a quick double beep from the van as he weaves around the tight corners leading from the tropical waters of the Caribbean to the waterfall-strewn rainforest, only 40 minutes apart on this tiny island.
There is a subtle but important distinction between the quick “honk honk” meaning “what’s up brother!” and the slightly more pronounced beeps of “incoming, stick to your side!”. The window is cracked and the scent of nutmeg slips in on the pronounced breezes. The temperature has dropped enough on the short jaunt inland to warrant a sweater.
Pulling over, we hop out of the van and take a short walk to a waterfall. Monkeys rattle the branches by the path as they spring from tree to tree. At the base of the falls, a man waits alone for the occasional tourist to come put a few Eastern Caribbean Dollars in his hat so he can climb to the top of the falls and backflip into the freezing pool below.
After the show, Cosmos turns the key to resuscitate the van. “I’m not the best driver… but I’m not the worst either,” he flatly states before jerking the van into first gear.
Next Stop: The Spice Factory
The spice factory is the next stop on the Tour de Cosmos. It’s clear why Grenada is known as the Spice Island of the Caribbean. At the factory, centuries-old wooden floorboards creak as the woman guides us from row to row of seeds and spices drying in mind-blowing quantities. She peels off a chunk of cinnamon from the bark and hands it to me to “take a whiff”. I hear Cosmos snore from his plastic chair in the corner.
From the nutmeg syrup drizzled on pancakes to the nutmeg creams and ointments said to aid nearly every ailment, spice rules here; and nutmeg is king. Followed closely by Cacao. Chocolate is as integral a part of life here as spices. (And rum.)
The plantation owner launches into a description of ‘black cake’, a frequent treat made for special occasions that involves grinding up fruits and raisins, baking it, dumping rum over it, covering it with marzipan or almond paste, and sticking it in your fridge “where it’ll last up to a year”.
Awake from his nap, Cosmos ushers us back into his big white van and we continue our journey.
Rum and Lime – The Perfect Pair
“If you don’t have sugarcane you ain’t got no rum,” Cosmos states as we pass a field of the tall crop. A man carrying a machete leisurely dodges incoming traffic. “We call that a poor man’s gun,” explains Cosmos.
Rum shops are a frequent sight here. These tiny bars set along the roadside are easily spotted by the people liming outside. Yes, liming. Liming is the unofficial national pastime of Grenada and visitors to this island will pick up quickly on the spirit of it.
How to lime? Sit around with friends, drink a Stag beer, and do little else.
But the key to liming? Enjoy yourself. No guilt for doing-nothing allowed.
We return to St. George’s, the cruise ship-docking capital city of hodgepodge shops where water taxis loiter in the bay near the “Carenage”, or boardwalk. Beyond them, yachts sit docked in the marina. The tourist-focused restaurants on The Carenage feature local favorites like fish rotis, lobster rolls, and Oil Downs, a traditional meat and veg stew from the island. And my personal favorite: the homemade hot pepper sauce set in a glass dish on every table.
The ultimate place to lime on Grenada is Hog Island on Sundays. Tiny Hog Island is connected by a pedestrian bridge to Grenada and also accessible by local-driven dinghies from the docks. Deserted except for Roger’s Beach Bar, Hog Island is the Sunday place-to-be for locals, a handful of tourists, and the long-term yachties, or “Gilligan’s Island wannabes,” as my guesthouse host refers to them.
Live music is typically set up for the occasion, but this week the band didn’t show so the locals have taken to playing Soca music on boomboxes instead. A fast-paced genre out of 1970s Trinidad, Soca is largely instructional with a Caribbean flair. The most popular song directs listeners to “Pick something up… anything… and run wid it”. You’ll find Grenadians grabbing strollers, traffic cones, other humans, (anything really) and jogging around to the beat.
By the time I left Grenada, I had a Soca playlist on my phone, a backpack-full of chocolate bars, hot sauce, and spices, and a newfound respect for doing absolutely nothing.