It’s been over a year ago since all this happened. It seems longer somehow, far away from the present. Those were intense days, which we came through unscathed and intact but somehow, something subtle has changed. We are not as adventurous and ambivalent about travel in uncharted places as we were. It reminds me of a bad fall while skiing, what they call a ragdoll descent. I didn’t break anything but my spirit and even though I still ski, I am not the fearless skier I once was.
We would wake up in the middle of the night and stare into space, reliving those moments when our normal lives were suddenly turned upside down, hanging in the balance between living and dying. It took several months and many retellings, mixed in with a good portion of denial and bravado to normalize our equilibrium.
We are more wary now when we encounter strange cultures, maybe more careful when we meet strangers, more reserved even. We chose not to drive our van to Mexico, as we had planned and took a flight instead. We are somewhat damaged goods when it comes to adventure travel. I insisted that this incident is separate, unique and cannot rule our lives forward. It has to stand alone and be compartmentalized and yet, something lingers on at the back of our minds.
It was 1973 and we were all 40 years younger, unless we weren’t born yet. I was still trying to get over Mona who was also my partner in a vain attempt to introduce a vegetarian restaurant into the Italian and Portuguese neighbourhood. Both ventures failed – the relationship and the business – mainly because Mona needed to expand both her physical and spiritual realm with a cherubic Yogi from India. I salvaged enough cash out of the wreckage to enable me to escape to Mexico for the winter in my cherished VW van, before Mona handed it all over to her Yogi to free herself (and me) from material entanglements.
Carriacou is not the biggest but the most precious little pearl in the Caribbean necklace.
The small Caribbean Island nation of Greneda is made up of three islands: Greneda, the largest one, Carriacou, a two hour ferry ride from St. Georges (capital of Grenada) and Petit Martinique, a further two hours by a smaller ferry from Carriaccou. Grenada declared it’s independence from the British Empire in 1974, and the elected Prime minister was usurped by a Cuban supported armed revolution in 1979 lead by Maurice Bishop who was himself toppled and then executed by his former co-revolutionary in 1983. A subsequent military coup resulted in ‘Operation Urgent Fury’, a US led invasion under Reagon to stop ‘the domino of commies’. The invaders bombed a mental hospital, mistaking it for a military fortress, killing 18 patients, one of which was Ricky’s mother. Ricky was our tour guide, who had a cynical view of the American conquest of his Island. These events were later immortalized in the 1986 movie ‘Heartbreak Hill’, by Clint Eastwood. Ever since the ‘liberation’ Grenada has struggled to attain some kind of modern status in this competitive world, relying on the World Bank and some generous donor nations. Mother nature interfered In 2004 when Hurricane Ivan destroyed 85% of Grenada’s structures and the entire Nutmeg Crop, followed in 2005 by Hurricane Emily which ravaged the island’s north end.