National Geographic : 1941 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine somber Soufriere. When we reached there, we stopped for coffee. Finding mine not hot enough, I asked SoSo, our driver, to have it heated. Whereupon he replied: "I goes to hot she, mistress." In West Indian dialect all neuter gender is referred to as "she." From Chateaubelair we went by boat to the Dry River, and then began the two-hour climb to the crater of Soufriere. Halfway up, vegetation ceases and the slopes are scattered with volcanic ash. Upon reaching the rim of the crater, we looked down upon the still, limpid waters of Crater Lake, 1,000 feet below, and marveled that so serene a sur face could erupt into a seething mass of de struction. Since the eruption in 1902, the deep, per pendicular walls of the crater have been bereft of the lush vegetation which formerly covered them. Grenada Is the Spice Island The Barbadians tell a story of the eruption of Soufriere in May, 1812, when the ashes from the violent volcano were carried a hun dred miles, falling profusely on the astonished Barbadians, who called the gray visitation "May dust." Grenada, 68 miles south of St. Vincent, covers an area of 133 square miles. The seat of government of the Windward Islands, it is often called "Spice Island." Nutmegs, mace, cloves, vanilla beans, and cocoa grow luxuriantly in the well-watered hills. Cloves grow in tall trees which blossom with fragrant flowers. When the cloves are pink, boys and girls scramble up the trees and shake the branches until the ground is covered with creamy petals and the air is spiced with a fresh, piercing fragrance. When the pink unexpanded buds have been thoroughly dried out, they are packed in bags for shipping. Clove pickers are paid only a shilling a day; yet a happier group of people I have seldom encountered. One morning when we were walking along Grand Anse road, a young creole woman barred our path by dropping suddenly to her knees. Holding her hands outstretched to us, she shut her eyes and chanted in a ripe sing-song, "I shut she eyes and de Lord Jesus hear .. . I shut she eyes." .. . One eye cautiously opened at this point. Then, seeing no penny was forthcoming, she opened both eyes wide with astonishment, say ing in a softer tone, "Is it you, mistress, wants I be hungry, when I'se down in de dust tellin' Him to bless you?" I dropped a penny into her outstretched hand and was surprised to receive a nutmeg in return. Grenadans are a proud people, re specting themselves as they respect the white race. The Growing of Nutmegs Nutmegs are grown from seeds which re quire ten or twelve years before the young bushes bear appreciably. The nutmeg is covered with mace, a fibrous coat resembling red lace, which, when removed and dried, be comes a separate spice; and the nuts are grated or shipped whole (page 44). In the tops of high hills we saw cocoa orchids growing. They are faintly fragrant in the early morning and evening, but with the sun the fragrance disappears. There is also a love vine which, belying its name, chokes any thing growing around it. The vine which pleased us most is called the "lucky leaf." If a person breaks off the dark, shiny green leaf, ties a piece of string to the stem and hangs it in his room, he will know whether his love is returned. Aimee, my Grenadan cook, says, "If she take root, you is loved." Aimee mixes a magic dish called "calaloo," which I like even better than bouillabaisse of French fame. She takes a bunch of eddo leaves, tomatoes, and an onion; and chips, chips, chips them until they are almost atoms. Then she adds shallot blades, thyme, salt pork, a piece of pig tail, and a big crab (with plenty of salt and pepper). All of this is steamed over a slow fire for twenty minutes. Sufficient hot water is added to make the desired quantity of soup. When the mixture has boiled for half an hour, the crab is taken out while Aimee swizzles the soup with an oversize swizzle stick. When the soup is quite creamy, the crab is put back and the delicious dish is served. It is typical of Grenada that the govern ment homes for the poor, the mentally de ficient, the prisoners, and sick people have the best sites on the island. Looking down from the high hills above the red-roofed town of St. George's, these havens for the hapless are blessed with sea-swept breezes from all sides. The narrow, winding streets in the town below remind one of certain hilly sec tions in Montmartre; but the quays and tun nels are definitely English in type. This fertile island of 89,000 souls gave us two treasures to carry to our home in Trini dad. One is Aimee. The other is the incom parable last glimpse of the scarlet sweep of flamboyant trees flaming through green hills above the crescent harbor of St. George's.