Personal Journeys


March 06, 2005|By SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A Memorable Place

Island of Grenada steals the heart

By Theresa G. Medoff


When I heard the news on the radio, I pulled over and sobbed. Hurricane Ivan had ripped across the lush, mountainous island of Grenada, destroying homes, schools, the parliament building and the nation's only hospital. I tried to imagine the devastation: 90 percent of buildings damaged or destroyed, the people homeless, the economy in tatters.

At home later, I compared my vacation photos of the island's colorful harbor with the harbor I saw in news photos from last September - strewn with a jumble of wrecked boats, twisted metal and splintered wood torn from waterfront buildings.

I had fallen in love with Grenada when my family and I visited last March: the small, colorful cement homes that clustered along the roads or clung to the sides of the mountains, the rain forest and waterfalls, the town of St. George's, which bustled with Grenadians going about their daily lives.

A vacation to many Caribbean islands feels like a polite but superficial visit with an acquaintance - drinks and canapes in the formal parlor. Visiting Grenada was more like sitting down at the kitchen table for some potluck with new friends. Nobody is wearing his Sunday best, but the conversation is rich and the company convivial.

Cows grazed in a beachfront pasture next to our hotel. We shopped with the locals and ate our nutmeg ice cream at a little shop frequented by children on their way home from school.

The crowd at the Mourne Rouge beach was a mixture of tourists and locals enjoying the gentle surf and scanning the beach for pristine seashells. As the afternoon waned, a group of young men had invited us to share their dinner of stew made from parrotfish, red snapper and other local fish marinated in spices and cooked over an open fire.

The people of Grenada seemed to live simple lives. Most families have a goat tied up somewhere along the road and a small garden plot tended to by the grandparents while the younger adults go to paying jobs. Many work on farms that grow bananas, nutmeg, cocoa, ginger and cinnamon, which gave the island the nickname "spice of the Caribbean."

How will they survive with the farms gone?

I think about Bernice, the middle-age woman who cornrowed my daughters' hair. She dreamed of someday owning a washing machine. Now I wonder if she still has a house.

The tourism industry in Grenada had just been starting to take off when Hurricane Ivan wreaked its havoc. Restaurants and hotels in Grenada are rebuilding; most hope to be back in business soon.

"But who will want to visit Grenada now?" my teenage daughter wondered recently as we reminisced about our trip.

I will. Of all the Caribbean islands I have visited, Grenada is the only one that touched my heart. So, yes, I will go back - and soon.

Theresa G. Medoff lives in Wilmington, Del.

My Best Shot

Ben Weinstein, Reisterstown

Alaskan heights

I took this photo of a friend during a backpacking trip in the Talkeetna Range in southern Alaska last summer. One morning, as the wind kicked up along the cliff edge, our small group stopped for a breather, and the sun illuminated the mountains perfectly.


Bar Harbor, Maine

Lonnie Kishiyama, Millersville

There is nothing like Bar Harbor in the fall. The leaves were just beginning to change color when I visited in early October. Bar Harbor is full of rocky coastlines and towering granite cliffs adorned with tall pines. The town is next to the famous - and beautiful - Acadia National Park. There are incredible sights, but don't forget to try the lobster.

Sozopol, Bulgaria

Susan Sevier, Washington

No, this is not another picture of somewhere on the French Riviera. This is Sozopol, Bulgaria, a popular resort on the Black Sea. The tiny beach is rimmed with magnificent villas and condominiums (most costing less than a basic townhouse in Canton or on Federal Hill). Perfect water, magnificent beach, and a balmy 85 degrees - that's a typical Sunday afternoon in Sozopol.


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