The purpose of the trip was twofold: to celebrate our 15-year wedding anniversary and to go on a real honeymoon--the type that young people today commonly enjoy but that circumstances and finances did not allow when my husband and I first got married.
Why Grenada? Several reasons, not the least of which was the liberation of the tiny island by President Reagan in 1983. That pivotal event is credited by many historians for sounding the death knell of the Brezhnev Doctrine and signaling the beginning of the end of the Cold War.
But in addition to its historical, intellectual and symbolic appeal (especially for a Reagan conservative), Grenada also beckoned for purely aesthetic and epicurean reasons. And as my husband began in the 1990's to research Caribbean locales with an eye towards some day getting us to one, he kept returning to the idea of visiting Grenada, widely acknowledged as one of the few Caribbean islands that was still largely free of the aura of tourism. Eventually we resolved to go there some day, and although it took some years and saving up of funds, we finally made it in 2002 (this was when I was working about 3/4 of the time outside the home and pulling in a few more dollars than I do these days). Grandma came to stay with the children (only two of them--6 and 9 years old back then), and off we went for a 9-day dream vacation.
Getting there wasn't easy. First there was the plane ride (I am about as aerophobic as they come). Then there was the rude awakening upon landing in Puerto Rico that contrary to what we had been told, picture ID's were not sufficient and we needed either passports or birth certificates to enter Grenada. (That problem was solved by our staying over one night in Puerto Rico while a very good friend went to our house, found our birth certificates, and Fed Ex'ed them to us overnight.)
But finally we arrived. And were we ever glad we did. Here is La Sagesse, one of the more luxurious resorts on the island. We didn't stay here, but we did spend an afternoon enjoying a nature walk, meal, and beach time.
Here is the beach & lagoon at La Sagesse. I have never been an ocean or beach lover (that would be my husband), but remember, I grew up in Texas, and the only beaches I knew were Galveston and Corpus Christi (can you say HOT beyond words?). The beach at La Sagesse is exactly how I would have envisioned a perfect tropical experience, with white sand and blue water, just like in the travel magazines. I have rarely been anywhere more beautiful.
Grenada is well known for its waterfalls. One day we took a hike through the rainforest to an area of waterfalls known as the Seven Sisters. Even in 2002 we were the old folks in the group, which was otherwise comprised of young, physically fit college students. After we reached our destination (for which the reward was a swim in the glistening pool at the foot of the falls--can you find us in the picture below?), our tour guide (Mandoo, seated on the rock) invited us to return by another way. "Sure," we said, "you lead and we'll follow."
Famous last words. As we continued on our adventure, the hike turned into a climb--literally. Here we are, having almost made it to the top. Please note in the picture that there is no visible ground behind us, just a precipitous drop-off. We pulled ourselves up the side of this cliff by using tree roots as hand and foot holds. Did I also mention I'm acrophobic? I just kept listening to my husband's cheerleading from behind me as I looked always up and forward, never back.
Somehow we made it back to our cottage, but I was sore for three days. In spite of that, we had a once-in-a-lifetime trip and created memories that we will always treasure.
But wait a minute--did I say once in a lifetime? Make that twice, because guess what . . . we're going back! And this time we're taking the family! And how, you may be asking, can we possibly afford to do such a thing, homeschooling three children and living on a church worker's income?
Here's the answer: M-I-L-E-S. Miles, that is, earned on our American Airlines Advantage credit card. About two-and-a-half years ago we opened the card and resolved to run as much of our household spending as possible through it, charging (but paying off each month) everything from groceries to gasoline to recurring bill payments to . . . you name it, we've charged it. And a few months ago we hit the magic number--125,000 miles--enough for round-trip off season airfare for 5 people to Grenada. So we planned time off and made our reservations--come October we'll be sitting on that beach at La Sagesse. With deposits on accommodations as well as airfare already paid for, that just leaves the remainder of our cost for lodging as well as the cost of eating & recreation while we're there. Still a few more months to save for that. And hey, we'd eat whether we were there or here, right? Oh, and did I mention that Grenada is about the cheapest Caribbean island there is?
Here are my husband and I getting on the plane to come back home six years ago. I haven't flown since.
Can you tell how utterly thrilled I am to be getting on that plane? I'm trying not to think about having to do this again. Time to get out those Grenada photos and remind myself once more of what awaits after the plane lands.