Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Parents Finally Visited! (Part One)

            Once again, it’s been far too long since I’ve last blogged.  I have a halfway decent excuse, though.  My parents came to visit!  Also, I’ve been pretty sick for the past couple of weeks (even during their visit, yes) and am having very little luck shaking the bug (or whatever it is).

            But that’s not really important or relevant to this post.


            Split One: My parents first couple days


            Mom and Dad flew in on Wednesday evening, September 4th.  Ivan and I met them at the airport and took a taxi to their resort, The Grenada Grand (über swanky!), before taking an evening stroll down to “Wall Street” (a strip of financial institutions and other businesses), which is appropriately referred to as “Street Meat” when night vendors take over the strip and sell meats and drinks.  We had some drinks and got my parents some food.  Mom had grilled tuna and Dad got barbequed pigtails.  Sounds gross, right?  Surprisingly delicious!

            On Thursday we had a pretty relaxing time touring around the campus and swimming in the crystal waters just outside of their resort.  We had breakfast at Le Papillion (a French breakfast restaurant) and my parents got their first real taste of Caribbean heat and humidity.

            On Friday, we went on an island tour with a few friends and Mom and Dad.  We visited Grenada Rum Distillers (Clarke’s Court), where Dad and Kevin tried the “White Ball” rum which boasts a 75% alcohol content.  Then we went to Grand Etang where we were unfortunately unsuccessful in seeing any monkeys.  We did bring a few bananas and not for nothing since there were two very skinny dogs hanging around.  After they’d scarfed down the bananas, Kevin began feeding them some peanut butter crackers he’d brought as a snack.  The pups seemed pretty pleased about the meal.

            We drove past Pearl’s Airport so my parents could get a glimpse of the old Cuban planes and the cows tied up to the wreckage.  As we continued north, we drove through the city of Grenville where we stopped for lunch.  Our driver, Leslie, knew of a cafeteria-style restaurant where we were able to fill up on some really delicious local cuisine. 

            Next we visited Belmont Estate Cocoa Plantation where our excellent tour guide was kind enough to show us the monkeys they keep.  So Mom and Dad were able to see some of the Mona monkeys, even if they didn’t show at Grand Etang.  We all bought chocolate candy bars and truffles as souvenirs before heading back out.

            That was the end of our island tour for the day; so we had Leslie drop us off at La Boulangerie (an Italian restaurant with a huge menu of pastas) for dinner.  There we ate our fill and headed back out for one more stop: the Fort Bar.

            After seeing pictures of the creepy spiders (tailless whip scorpions) and dank tunnels at Fort Matthew, Mom and Dad wanted to check it out.  So Friday evening, we made our way to the fort and spent a couple hours relaxing in the red-lit caves, sipping on cold drinks and chatting.  We made our way through the ruins as well and admired the view of the city from the top of the fort.  Below, in the tunnels, with flashlight on, we scouted for the nightmarish tailless whip scorpion.  We found a couple husks of dead spiders, dangling ominously in other spiders’ webs (the tailless whip scorpions are not spiders and thus do not spin webs).  Finally, Ivan cast the light into a wide hole and there, poised in mid-attack was a creepy tailless whip scorpion.  We were all shocked and gave the hole a wide berth to let the scorpion finish its business.  But then it didn’t move.  It just stayed frozen in a ferocious stance.  Dad leaned forward and blew at it.  The scorpion toppled over, long dead, stuck in an awkwardly aggressive position.  We moved on, happy we saw some dead ones, to at least show Mom and Dad their size and what they look like, but disappointed also that we weren’t going to see a live one.

            As we made our way towards the green ambient light of the bar, Ivan stopped and spun the flashlight beam against the wall.  There, a tailless whip scorpion was slowly creeping towards a crevice in the craggy tunnel.  Dad broke out his camera and quickly snapped off a couple of photos while Ivan poked at it with a long piece of glass to keep it from slipping into the shadowy recesses of the tunnel wall.  After we successfully got a couple photos, we let the tailless whip scorpion amble away and we returned to our drinking stations victorious.


Split two: The hash


            So, yeah, hashing was definitely on the to-do list while Mom and Dad were visiting.  Dad’s a pretty enthusiastic runner and takes to the trails when he can, so hashing seemed to be right up his lane.  Mom’s a social butterfly and likes a good hike as much as the next person.  Of course, not all hashes are created equally and I didn’t know if this particular hash would turn out to be a nice, moderately difficult hike with beautiful views, or an outrageously long, backbreaking journey with beautiful views.  Either way, my folks were signed up.

            Saturday afternoon, we caught the bus that took us up the west coast of the island to (Kirani James’ hometown) Gouyave (pronounced gwav).  Mom met with the girls she’s be completing the walkers’ trail with and we all crowded around the hash master as he delivered news about upcoming events, directions for the hash and (for the newbies) how to hash.  Then we were ON! ON!

            I was still on a round of pretty potent meds (remember how I mentioned not feeling well?) and totally overestimated my ability to perform in that state.  Of course, even if that were not the case, my dad still would have smoked us, which he totally did.  On our first uphill, we lost him.  We didn’t see him again until we made it to the finish.

            The hash itself was lovely, as usual, with a great mix of terrain and elevation.  There was some mud, but not much.  Mostly we were on grass and dirt trails, with a little creek action as well.  We met up with a couple friends, one of which was also a little under the weather, and kept each other company throughout the rest of the hash.  Towards the end, we came across a lone little (tiny, really) puppy.  In keeping with Grenada’s standard of animal care, the poor thing was drenched in fleas and underweight.  It also had a ribbon (red shoelace, maybe?) tied around its neck.  The loop was already pretty tight and we could foresee an embedded collar issue in the very near future.  Unfortunately, none of us had a knife or any way to cut the ribbon off.  So we waited while Nick worked and worked at the knot and, finally, was able to get the ribbon off of the puppy.  We left the little guy there because we didn’t know if he was owned or if anyone was looking to adopt a puppy, but at least we were able to take that hazardous noose off of his neck!

            When we arrived at the finish to the usual pumping bass from the dance music blaring around the drink tents, we found Mom and Dad enjoying some refreshing beers and watching a local man on stilts dancing in the road.  We all had some oil down (the national dish) for dinner and enjoyed the post-hash party, which included the de-virginization ceremony.  Mom and Dad, having been first-time hashers and, therefore, virgin hashers, were a part of the ending ceremony.  All virgin hashers were called to the front of the group and addressed by the hash master.  He assigned them all a de-virginization certificate, before the whole group was asked to embrace and ceremonially sprayed with beer.

            It may not sound like fun to everyone out there, but Mom and Dad had a blast.  It’s just too bad that they were only around for one hash.  

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