SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
November 16, 2018
True to SEA form, Grenada has been packed from day one. The first day here was spent all over the island. We had to be at breakfast by 7:15 to leave the resort on a bus by 9:30. Our bus driver, Mandu, doubled as our tour guide. As we drove from place to place, he told us about life on the island. He talked about politics, about trying to get young people interested in combating climate change, and the influence of tourism on day-to-day life on the island, along with many other things it would decimate my word count to enumerate.
Our first stop wafirstmangrove reserve area. We learned about efforts on the island to repopulate mangroves along the coast. Mangroves are crucial to the marine ecosystem, as they provide a nursery for several reef species, but mangroves have been deforested in many locations to make more room for sandy beaches. It was heartwarming to hear how invested the local community has become in the project. School kids take it upon themselves to protect the mangrove seedlings planted in the area and remind others to be mindful.
Our next stop was the fish market in Grenville. It was an interesting and conflicting event. Many of us felt strange about being there, taking up so much space and interfering with people who were living their daily lives. On the other hand, we had a lot of interesting and meaningful conversations with the locals about the fishery, and the workers let some of the students try cleaning the fish, an interaction spearheaded by Hannah and Ryanne. As a group we bought some dried fish from the market that will eventually be part of one of our lunches, and Jeff bought us some local candy to try on the ride to our next destination, which was a turtle reserve.
We had a little bit of down time to eat lunch and play on the beach before our contact in the turtle reserve arrived. Once lunch was done, we had a great time wading in the shallow water. Davi did a little more than wade and got absolutely soaked, and Bryce and Christian had a race across the beach which Christian won. When our guide did arrive, he told us about the importance of leatherbacks, the species of turtle this reserve is for. They can travel far into cold waters, and it is in question whether they are cold or warm blooded, but Grenada is essential to the species as a nesting ground. After explaining turtles, our guide took us to see some fully-grown mangroves.
After that, we got to go to a local chocolate factory and learn how chocolate is made in Grenada. Our tour guide there let us try cocoa beans straight from the pod. They were not what I expected at all. The outside was white and pulpy and sweet, and almost had a flavor I would almost identify as chocolate. The inside was a vivid purple and tasted bitter.
We finished out the day at Fish Fry Friday, a local festival in Gouyave, where we tried the local fish and enjoyed being together for dinner again. I myself tried to figure out how to crack open and eat a crab, and failed spectacularly, which was far more hilarious than upsetting.
Even with all the wonder of being on our first island, the most amazing part of the first day was having all sixteen of us together again. As much fun as the rest of the day had been leading up to Fish Fry Friday, there had been a hole noticeable to all of us throughout the day. Due to flight complications, Linny got in late and didn’t meet us until the festival. It was tangible how much we missed her all day. I was lucky enough to have been paired with her for food money, so I saw her first and got the best hug imaginable. When we got to the rest of our crewmates, the joy was palpable. A giant sixteen-person group hug happened right there in the middle of the tents of the Fish Fry.
I have never known a group of people who cares about each other more freely or openly than the people I currently have the absolute privilege of living and playing and working and learning with right now. Every single moment spent with them is a moment worthy of being cherished, but I think that moment in the middle of the festival when we were finally all together again is one I’ll remember vividly for years to come.