National Geographic : 1965 Dec
be gone? I recalled drowsing fishing villages and quaint towns, roofs peeping through the palms; the warm hospital ity of remote places, where strangers are welcome because they open a rare window on the outside world.* Most im portant, would the tropic languor and sense of mafiana be swallowed by the mounting pressures of the 20th century? I had sent Finisterre ahead, and flew first to the small island of Grenada to pick her up. Doubts filled me as my small plane dropped over a steep escarpment to land on a pocket-handkerchief airfield that ended at Atlantic shal lows. Half the population of the nearby town of Grenville was on hand to watch, and soon a taxi was taking me up the steep spine of the island on a highway dating back to the days of French ownership. Road Crowded on "Banana-ship Day" Lush vegetation pressed in from both sides, waxy, dark green leaves of breadfruit alternating with the delicate tracery of coconut-palm fronds. Here and there I saw bril liant splashes of poinsettia and bougainvillea. As we climbed higher, the mighty trunks of gommier trees-the source of the great Indian canoes that astonished Columbus-lifted above lesser growths. Even today gommier is the name in local patois for the dugout canoes used by the fishermen. It was a road better suited to the donkeys we passed plodding along the edges than to the trucks we met in the middle. "This banana-ship day," explained my driver as we crawled along behind a load of green stems topped by a boy playing a harmonica. "They's goin' to St. George's to be sold. Here we got no minerals and not many visitors. We got to grow things to eat." For miles we drove through forest broken only by occa sional clearings and native huts. Then we went over a final crest to see the Caribbean shimmering far below, and I glimpsed rooftops as the way wound down through culti vated plots. I was almost reluctant to enter the streets of St. George's. It existed in my memory as the perfect small West Indian town. Since my last visit Grenada had been devastated by a hurricane, and then there was all that progress I had heard about. I found a community as unmistakably tropic-colonial as a pith sun helmet. It was perhaps a bit more populous and prosperous than before, with more modern shops, but basically the same. A turn brought us to the open-air mar ket, and I told my driver to stop. Getting out, I became part of the remembered swirl of color and smell and sound. (Continued on page 761) *See "Carib Cruises the West Indies," by Carleton Mitchell, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, January, 1948. Ghosting seaward in a morning breeze, Finisterre slips out of St. George's, Grenada, on the start of a five-week cruise through the Windward Islands. Verdant peaks rising from the blue Caribbean, the isles dwell in a quiet eddy of the 20th century, luring voyagers with the music of rustling palms, the charm of life at walking pace, and the perfection of cruising in sun-blessed waters. 756 KODACHROMEBY WINFIELDPARKS© N.G.S.