Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Grenada Wrap Up: Sights & Fashion Picto Journal

Gorgeous views of Grenada from the Marian area atop hills beyond beautiful mountain peaks.
This trip was supposed to be ten days and in accordance with the Grenada Chocolate Festival.
Alas, I was able to attend one event on one day as opposed to a fully packed nine day schedule. I had to unfortunately cancel my previous nonrefundable bookings, change my Airbnb dates, and lost my wallet in Atlanta. The unperceived financial losses were vast and severe. If it hadn't been for Moneygram, I doubt that my trip would have been as good as it became.
I spent eight days in the warm pleasant environment of Grenada, right in the heart of the Caribbean. Although things hadn't gone originally planned, most days I had a solid time, especially with my lovely host and her family. The weather was supremely gorgeous--not too scorching hot and it rained every night-- which meant cool breeze s through the window and tranquil noise. In addition to the splendid weather, however, there are lots of stray dogs roaming around the island. I have a stray dog phobia and that made my lonely treks around the island much more timid. I managed in the best way possible to overcome the fear-- at least for a little while.

Majestic views from my sweet Airbnb. My host is also a frequent traveler, having just returned from D.C.

Day One: a flowy, mid-calf asymmetrical dress with thick straps,

Day 2: Afrodelik tank, a gift from a friend.

Breadfruit, one of Grenada's primary food staples, grows almost everywhere. Apparently, breadfruit tastes like a potato or fresh baked bread depending on how it's prepared. It is the star of the national dish called "oil down," a one pot meal consisting of breadfruit, bananas, callaloo (or spinach), coconut milk, and spices. I plan to make a vegan version of this soon.

Day 3L Patterned orange tank dress (backless cutout and pockets), a $5 thrift store find.

My host, her son, and I went out to the beach, the Allamande Resort side of Grand Anse. Mother and son swam together. In fact, her father and father-in-law were also swimming. I watched three generations interactwith pure joy and affection, sadly missing out on the simple wonders of life. I had ordered a swimsuit that never arrived. Still, even if had been tucked into my suitcase, I don't think I would have braved standing in the idyllic waters. I don't know how to swim or how I would be able to withstand the breezy waves.

When one has no buckets to make sand castles, there's other art to make-- albeit flatter and portrait like.

On top of the stray dogs, goats are plentiful. These cuties were in my host's backyard curiously staring at me.
Day 4: This dress that I loved so much that I took it to Paris too. Another thrift store find.
Bus fare is 2.50 (or 93 cents in US dollars). Queen Elizabeth I is on most of the monies here.
Breathtaking views at the Melville Street Cruise Terminal where ships and boats of various styles sit in the harbor.
The Osprey Lines Limited Ferry transports inter-island passengers for 80EC each way ($30 US) to Carriacou and Petit Martinique.
I wish fiction fever wasn't boarded up-- probably was a terrific store too early for the time.
Yes! My dry, thirsty skin was thankful to acquire pure cocoa butter (from House of Chocolate). Leaves the skin super moist and chocolaty smelling.
Splendid views from the other side of Grand Anse Beach.
Day 5: Global Couture T-shirt. On a previous day, I had acquired the worst bug bite. It had infected the right side of my nose bridge and underneath my eye, looking like a horrific purple veined bruise. I splashed water on the painful, stinging infection and massaged in Argan oil and cocoa butter. Good as new the next morning-- or as witnessed here on a sun-kissed outing to the beach.
This brick oven wheat bread loaf was extremely delicious. Often, I warmed and coated slices in an olive oil drizzle. I also broke pieces off for the Sweet Potato Coconut Milk Soup.

Fort George formerly Fort Rupert where Maurice Bishop and several of his followers including his partner Jacqueline Creft were executed in October 1983. After the execution, their bodies were burned at another location. Tragically enough, their remains were never recovered. The Maurice Bishop International Airport, located on Maurice Bishop Memorial Highway, is named after Bishop.
An alarming amounts of blood stained the steps towards the fort. I didn't find the hurt victim for the tracks finally stopped (red drippings were on all of the steps and there were many steps). Thus, in regards to history, what happened to Bishop and his devoted followers, my thoughts turned metaphoric.
Day 6: long sleeved black top with a pretty purple floral skirt. The skirt was too large, but I'll tie a string around it or have someone make belt loops for it. The hat (made of paper) is a gift from a friend-- once part of his thesis exhibit at PAFA.
The Sendall Tunnel, a Grenada's national landmark, is a modest structure built for horses and carriages. Cars and buses and pedestrians travel through this daily, but it can be dangerous for pedestrians.  
I took the bus, a 6XCD ($2.22 USD) trip, towards Greenville, sitting through the gorgeous sights of Grand Etang Rainforest (where one can see cacao pods hanging from the trees).
Beaches of Greenville.

A nice guy bought me a drink. He said, "most ladies drink this." Bitters is a usually a botanically infused alcohol, but this is a non-alcoholic beverage that tastes like a Sprite. The Angostura company, also a distillery, is still around in Trinidad and Tobago,making bitters, rum, and other beverages.
A purple spot that sells chips and drinks along the beach.
The first flight is a short one to Trinidad and Tobago (along a tremendously long layover period) then off to Houston, Texas and New York's LaGuardia Airport.  I look forward to returning to Grenada next year-- with better, ironclad plans.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Grenada Chocolate Festival's Fifth Annual Chocolate Extravaganza

Last Saturday bliss.
On Saturday afternoon through the early night, near Grand Anse Beach, Camerhogne Park was popping.
The DJ was playing great tunes like Sia's reggae influenced "Cheap Thrills" and Black Panther soundtrack gem Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar's "Pray For Me” blaring loud and free. Colorful cacao pods on giant leaves were settled on cut grasses forming a tempting path to festivities. The smell of chocolate perfumed the subtle breezy air with its sweet, decadent scent no manufacturer could authentically match. Adults and children alike were entertained by the various delights each tent offered under the pleasant trees shading us all from the mild warmth of sun and its radiant light. 

While the royal wedding happened somewhere in Europe, a mom/photographer was sporting a beautiful headwrap and a Coming to America t-shirt featuring Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy, right) and Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley, left).
I relished the euphoric spirit in great abundance.
I spoke with other artists like the poet Word, who later performed her chocolate poem onstage. I cracked open cacao shells, poured fine cacao particles into the red handled grinder (similar to the one at House of Chocolate), and ground them into chocolate paste. I then scraped it onto hands and balled it continuously, forming a rounded shape like the ones used for tea. At last, I sampled pure chocolate, raw and unadulterated bitterness, grainy and perfect straight from the tree.

Hands that rolled actual cacao.
Between events, the gorgeous hostess donned chocolate fabric stage in a splendid necklace made out of cacao beans that enhanced the bright red of her chic knee length dress and nude heel sandals.
I was fortunate to meet Aaron Sylvester. He inherited a cacao farm from his grandparents and uses the land to create a new line of chocolate bars in Crochu. The vegan chocolate, which is 80% dark chocolate sweetened with cane sugar, is created in St. Mark's, a town in Victoria, Grenada that has the highest mountain and waterfall on the island. Sylvester believes that the Dark Chocolate will bring business to the region.
The cacao pod makes cacao nibs, cocoa, and dried cocoa beans.
Cocoa tea has become a new favorite.
At Dodgy Dock's tent, they served one vegan dish-- a hearty, delicious three bean chocolate chili with crispy tortilla chips on the side. Before granting me my plate, the server had said, "you're going to love this." And he was right.
Cacao pod and cacao bean decor. 
Artist Stacey Byer had a great activity-- acrylic painting on smooth, stone rocks. She had hand drawn a cacao pod with black marker. Content children and adults created masterpieces together.
Also in the kids activity tent, attendees were welcome to roll cacao grounds.
And work on a joint mural with cacao pods opened and closed.
Ta da! The completed mural. The original artist's work is lighter versus the group effort's intensive contrast.
There was the chocolate photo booth inviting guests to pose with a pal. One couldn't take a picture alone in the chocolate photo booth. However, as seen in the first picture of this post, a Grenada Chocolate Festival team member teamed up with me. I will be grateful for that.
One of the prizes up for chocolate auction-- a chocolate spa package (choosing three of several seductive body treats) at Blue River Spa sounded like a merry dream-- a chocolate facial, a chocolate body wrap, a mocha body scrub, a cocoa bath soak, a chocolate pedicure, a chocolate manicure for one person in one day. I will live vicariously through the winner of this exceptional luxury.
The fashion show was incredible! I wished to have the names of designers and models of this great showing of local talent, but alas have no details. Regardless, it was a brilliant success that showcased an homage to the endless branches of Diaspora narrative.
It started off with the Princess Collection-- cool blues and eloquent patterns (which has complimentary orange in this African paisley rendering) in a collection that weaves a beautiful tale about a woman's distinctive prowess in the fashion arena.

This is the sleek, sophisticated designer of the Princess Collection. Isn't she just a vision?
A stunning design was this showstopping elegant gown and crown made of dried cocoa leaves.
The entire cocoa leaf collection with designer.
This designer (second center in a gorgeous two fabric patterned dress and winning smile) was inspired by Grenada's nutmeg, featured on their state flag. This stunning collection stylizes the weight of symmetric lines and amping up beige with bold red and graphic black.
Inspired by a romantic fairy tale, this designer (on the far left with funky red hair. polka dot blue dress, and black ankle booties) her collection is heroic and dynamic with elements of Orientalism, power, and may I say Amazonian like Wonder Woman? I appreciated the dresses for women of all shapes and sizes.
With the image that inspired it all, I hope to return again next year and experience the whole breadth of this festival. I had such an amazing, informative, intriguing, insatiably gratifying time, learning and exploring the creative sides of cacao/chocolate. It goes beyond my own perception, my own thoughts prior to the long, anticipated journey. I have enjoyed meeting so many people influenced by chocolate. I have been taught its impact on their lives on other levels. There are countless narratives eager to be told. One must come to their spaces and listen as a person of understanding and not a foreigner desiring to take without gifting something in return.