Is this the way to Armadillo? Oh Grenada!

That jet lag is a fucker. Woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed, at 2am ffhs. Thankfully hotel wifi was spectacularly good so I was able to stream Netflix over a UK VPN, watching it to begin with but then treating it like a podcast, shoving my iPad on the floor and dozing off for 3 hours or so with Wild, Wild Country's soundtrack in my ears.

Once Helen woke up we showered and I wrote my blog, expending great emotional energy into my apologies to Tom for being unable to remember his name only to subsequently be called out on Facebook because it wasn't even him I should've been trying to remember, but more-recent-ex-colleague Sam. I confessed to him by text, then Helen and I went for breakfast.

That would be tea/coffee, orange juice, and a plate full of fried plantain, some kind of beans, two types of bread, scrambled egg, and mystery meat. It were nice. Couple of bananas 'n all. Then, back to the room. It was only 0730 and our shuttle to the airport was booked for 1030 so we had copious time to kill, which for me meant sampling Trinidadian TV.

Obviously, after scrolling through tons of channels I settled on BBC World. As it goes I found nothing which looked like local TV at all, everything was American or European or Asian. Maybe that's just the hotel's setup, I dunno.

Our view: a main road away from the airport.

Boredom set in, for me at least. Helen was perfectly fine just dicking around on her iPad until shuttle time, but I was restless. I spent a while furtively checking live departures/arrivals on the local airport website - the pages are under construction and direct you to channel 868 on the local TV system. Sure enough, channel 868 on the TV was rolling airport information.

  • Domestic departures (one an hour to Tobago)
  • Domestic arrivals (one an hour from Tobago)
  • International departures (our flight has two destinations, and is on time)
  • International arrivals (our plane is coming in on time)
  • A 10 minute animation about the new car park they've made

Oof. We get it, you're proud of having automatic barriers and kiosks 'n that but, really, there can't be much need for showing it off so much.

40 minutes until shuttle time and I felt like I should at least spend some time outside in Trinidad. I mean, I know we were staying in the equivalent of Feltham and there was nothing to warrant exploring, except maybe the "eco park" just across the bridge, but still. With Helen resolutely staying indoors I thought, fuck it, at the very least I'll go take a picture of the hotel.

Apparently they're building a bar on the roof.

Immediately upon leaving the hotel (and this really shouldn't have come as a surprise) it was viciously, brutally hot. Being the idiotic sort I wandered up to the bridge, noting the chicken/goat/duck rhotis for sale opposite and somehow, just briefly, this part of Trinidad seemed quite nice for a second.

Back to the hotel and the guy on reception is shuttling us back to the airport. It's a much worse vehicle than yesterday, with no aircon or seatbelts. On the drive I wonder how much business is generated by the "cheap cesspit cleaning" adverts on the lamp posts.

About 5-10 minutes later we're back at POS airport, entering a door directly facing the LIAT check-in desks. It's 1042, and the monitors say check-in for our flight started at 1040. There's already a queue 30-odd strong, mostly comprising Grenadian female footballers and staff who've been in TnT playing the local CONCACAF qualifiers for the past week.

The queue moves slowly, and as it does so we're handed stickers for our check-in baggage and Trinidad departure declarations. Eventually we get to the front, and the fun starts. The quiet woman checking us in requests proof of onward travel from Grenada. I get my phone and open the BA app, which upon opening says to me "your next flight is cancelled. We might have already started trying to find an alternative way to get you home" or similar (I'm cursing myself for not getting a screenshot).

Depending on who you are this news is either hilarious or massively concerning. Having no choice, I hand the woman the phone and hope she ignores the big red box at the top and just notes down the flight number, which she apparently does. Our bags get weighed, I get a "certified hand luggage" tag for my rucksack and she gives us our boarding passes.

Through the atrium to the first desk, an absolute breeze. Strolling through the duty free area to the escalators at the far end, next to signs saying security would be at each gate, Helen points out something I'd entirely missed: that the woman had said the flight had been retimed, and even written it on our boarding passes. What? How did I miss all of that?

Whoa. So our 1240 flight is now leaving at 1130? And I'm discovering this at 1115? That's a bit weird. Helen's boarding pass had been differently scribbled, with the boarding (rather than departure) time modified, to 1140.

Also, security is not at the gates. It's straight up the escalators, and there's a long chaotic queue. 4 machines but only one line open. As we near the front, 4 people jump the queue but we're not that bothered – it's the LIAT crew for our flight. Given it's 1120 we're now somewhat inclined to believe it ain't bloody leaving at 1130.

I make a pig's ear of security myself, largely through not realising that as well as my iPad I was now required to take out my iPad charger, keyboard, and camera separately. Gah.

Anyway. We're airside now, walking past the lounge we now think we don't have time for. Thankfully the flight goes from gate 2, very close by and, er, there's basically no-one here. The crew are, sat down and looking bored. At the desk is a man who'd been handing out stickers at check-in so I query the alterations and he says oh, that's the change for a different flight not this one, we're still going at 1240.

Well, good! That means we can go back 10 metres and wield my new Priority Pass for entry into the VIP Flyers Club.

There's a dingy room next to the front desk, but a much nicer room off to the side at the back. Helen is absolutely delighted she can now get herself a pre-flight nerve-calming gin. As if the prospect of flying on a small-ish plane hadn't been enough, she's not overly happy that we had to check bags and much much much less happy that we currently don't actually have a way to get home from Grenada, apparently.

The beer is ropey, the cling film sandwich also, but whatever. Helen made a far superior set of liquid and solid choices than I. We only had about 20 minutes in here, still a little jittery about our flight - LIAT get roundly panned online for the quality of communication on the ground, after all - so I step out to see if anything's happening, just at the moment they announce they'll be boarding by groups of rows.

Back, grab our stuff, and out we go, just a couple of minutes to kill until group 2 - our group - is announced. I'm pointing out our plane and saying look, this does not qualify as a "death plane" (Helen's name for the 12/14-seater Cessnas we flew in Costa Rica). A few minutes later we're through, walking across the tarmac and up the stairs at the back.

It's an 18 row plane, 2x2, and we're exactly halfway along in row 9 on the left. Bravely, Helen opts for the window seat. We have a surprising amount of legroom, in fact more than we do headroom as it's somewhat cramped in the Y axis on here. It takes long enough for people to board that we get through the entire freebie magazine before takeoff.

It's a bit windy as we ascend, which is not to Helen's liking one bit. As birthdays go, it's not really awesome for her at this point. But with a fairly sudden change of heart she's saying "camera, gimme your camera, it's nice outside now" and snapping away.

Port of Spain to Grenada is only a half hour flight. There's zero service, which is fine, I'm entertained enough by the exuberant audio advertisements for the airline over the tannoy. "It's easier than you think to get from Antigua to Puerto Rico", apparently. I dunno, I just kinda assumed there would be flights, so telling me there are flights isn't really easier than I thought.

"Now listen, I don't think I'm overreacting here, that was definitely peril" she says, once we're safely on the ground after a moderately entertaining descent. The cap'n came on the mic to say we were going to go west to lose some height before our final approach, and what that meant in practice was we would fly a tight spiral down towards the sea and then gain some height as we stop spiralling. Supposedly, she reckons, he'd been a bit too eager and had to correct a mistake. Heh.

Grenada airport is right on the edge of the island, literally. You don't see land out of the window until about 5 seconds before you touch down, and oh boy did we touch down with a bump. The runway seems to be downhill, so they really have to ram the brakes on hard. At the end we pull a quick u-turn and taxi to the terminal; well, almost the terminal. We have to walk across tarmac again.

The weather is wonderful, of course. The immigration queue is quite long but we get to jump a shit-ton of Canadians who haven't filled out their arrival documentation. All the RGPF agents seem cheerful enough and we get a "welcome to Spice Island" once we're waved through.

It's a bit of a wait until any bags come out, but once they do our cases are pretty prompt and we go through customs, which takes longer than immigration because most people seem to be getting the third degree and at least two couples get sent away to some other desk for some problem with their forms. We're waved through though, and the driver sent by our hotel is easy to spot with the cardboard with our names on it.

He's surprised by how little luggage we've got, so rather than go to the car park and drive back to us we just all walk together. To our surprise we're not getting in a car, but another non-airconditioned minivan with no seatbelts. As it goes this is what passes for a bus on Grenada; we know this because the driver told us, but also because it has a route number on the front. Turns out he's a bus driver. Not only that, but unless we object he's also going to pick up his conductor and a couple of visiting girls but they apparently won't bother us.

We're not phased by this at all, it's totally cool. Bit surprised to pick him up by just stopping on a roundabout though, heh. He's not turning this into a bus service though, the conductor is his mate. Buses here are all private to the individual driver, but he's free to take a taxi gig when he wants.

Prior to the conductor's arrival we'd been given a bit of welcome to Grenada spiel. Right off the bat he was keen to tell us that it's not quite paradise, because there are murders and crime here, but "we've only had 6. Trinidad has had over 200 this year!". Good to know, thanks. He tells us about the queen being on their bank notes and points out a few things.

It's a long drive. Like, 2 hours or so. We're staying about as far from the airport as it's possible to stay. But, it's much fun. We go past Grand Anse beach and then through St George's, which looks fantastic. Staying on the west coast we spend an hour alternating between hairpin bends up and down steep hills, and stretches of coast road.

At Gouyave there's an impromptu stop to hail down a lad carrying a net full of fish so fresh they're still actually flipping around: the driver wants to buy them, so conductor hops out and grabs a bucket from the back for the fish to get poured into. Well, OK then.

Being mid-afternoon, schools are kicking out everywhere and horns are used just as "hey, I'm here" communication as we drive past hordes of kids. Each time we get views off the coast it's spectacular. Throughout, people try to hail us because we're a bus but the driver's signalling to say nah, I'm on a private run today. They bump into people they know constantly; there's only ~100k people on the whole island and a bus driver is gonna know a lot of them.

Eventually we're ascending two very very steep gravel tracks to our accommodation. It's more out of the way than we realised in advance, but hello to the Armadillo Guesthouse. Before we've even paid for the cab we're asked by our host Andrea "so, did you want to go to your room or do you want a beer?".

The setting is preposterously gorgeous. We're up on Grenada's north coast, facing a load of other islands: the Grenadines, see. We actually opt for putting our stuff away and being shown our private little balcony area first.

It's not bad, here. But let's go downstairs and have that beer shall we?

IPhone X portrait/advert mode ftw!

Whew. It's been quite a day so far tbh, but now at 4pm we can sit in the cool breeze on the deck of our place looking out across the Caribbean and sinking a cold beer. Perhaps Helen's birthday might turn out alright after all.

We are miles from anywhere though, it seems. I mean, the beach, and a hotel which has a bar open to non-residents, are only 500 metres away, but most of those metres are vertical. There's a fridge in the shared kitchen we could store provisions in, if we had any, but we don't and there's seemingly nowhere to get them. There is a pool if we want a swim though.

Well, let's figure this out, by going for a walk to get our bearings. Originally I intend us to walk to Petite Anse hotel but instead, at the bottom of the hill, we go right and along the beachside road.

Essentially it's a couple of kilometres of gorgeous views. Well, view, singular I suppose.

It bears repeating though.

There's a bar! It's called D Real Bamboo Bar, but it doesn't seem to be open, in a "fuck off, I'm welding" kinda way. Well OK. Really we're just looking for the nearest shop and after a lot of stray dogs, the odd chicken, and a goat on a rope, there is an open shop on the right. The people outside are super friendly and we pop in just to buy a couple of bottles of water. Helen reckons this place is called the Red Lion, but it don't look like no pub. But there are supplies near the hotel, so that's good.

Back along the road and onto the beach, there's a bit called Mount Rodney and some stairs at the end. A couple of other guests from the hotel are sitting on a log and we wave hello to them, but opt not to ascend the steps at the end because they seem to go to a private house rather than Petite Anse as we'd hoped. Instead, we take our own log and watch the diving birds go fishing. Like this.

The views back to Sauteurs and Levera are as lovely as those out to seat. But the tide seems to be coming in, so we make our way back along the beach narrowly avoiding getting our feet wet.

Over to the west, the sun is starting to set.

Back up the steep hill to the guesthouse. Y'know, this really is quite steep and hard work, isn't it?

Back in the room it's time to shower. With the temperature permanently in the mid-high 20s or low 30s here, plus that walk and bloody hill, we're a little sweaty. There's time to kill before dinner at 7pm, which we'd prebooked (because you have to) and at which we were to be joined by two other couples.

This place attracts non-residents to eat too, and is reviewed/recognised as one of the best restaurants on the whole island. An English couple who are getting married in 2 days are at the end, and between us and them are a Canadian couple who live on Grenada and are self-employed travel writers.

The food is fucking magnificent, everyone agrees. Helen and I have opted for identical starters and desserts but different mains.

This is a goats cheese mousse on beetroot with pine nuts. We're both chastised for not eating the greenery which it comes with.

I'm having this outrageously lovely skate for main. Everything is just gorgeous. Helen has a steak, which she loves but both the hosts are really worried it wasn't cooked enough, despite her protestations to the contrary.

The chilli chocolate tarte dessert has a proper kick to it, not mean but very noticeable. It's all just great.

The whole meal had been accompanied with non-stop conversation amongst all of us, and was surprisingly fun given my visceral hatred of strangers and socialising with them. We got through a ton of topics but in the spirit of GDPR I won't reveal anything more about the people or a single thing that got said.

At the end, we ask to take Helen's remaining wine up the room plus, er, can I have two bottles of beer? Of course you can, they say. I manage to get through one but then succumb to the most ridiculously instantaneous exhaustion of all time and crash out while uttering the sentence "I've got Sudden Darren Tiredness Syndrome".

Created By
Darren Foreman

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