A writer's work is never done. All photos by James Sturz.
Fathom's contributing koan editor James Sturz explores the goings on above and below sea level in this photographic report from the little-visited Caribbean island Grenada.
GRENADA – I'm writing this from 22 feet underwater, in the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park in Moliniere Bay, Grenada. Started in 2006 as the world’s first underwater sculpture gallery by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor, it only takes a scuba dive or snorkel — or languorous cruise along the surface in a glass-bottom boat — to wend your way past more than 60 sculptures, each of them cast in cement and covered by coral.
WHERE TO STAY
Sandals LaSource Grenada, just outside St. George's, is the island's best choice for accommodations. It's an all-inclusive resort, which includes nearly unlimited scuba diving. Top-tier rooms come with butler service. You don't have to be a couple to visit, but you won't find any twin beds.
If you're tired of swimming, you can see them kneeling.
And then have a snack.
Sometimes fish get in the way.
Or there's talk of God.
But sometimes all distractions slip away, and there's only beauty left.
Enter the underwater world, and you'll understand it's different. It follows different rules.
Sometimes the best way to see it is up close.
But scuba diving in Grenada isn't all about sculptures lurking below the ripples. There are also wrecks. The Bianca C sits 165 feet below the surface, just off the island's capital of St. George's. Sunk in 1961 from explosion and fire (after an earlier sinking off Marseilles, in 1944, by way of a German torpedo), it measures 600 feet in length, and is sometimes called "the Titanic of the Caribbean." We descended into the cruise ship's swimming pool, and then did our best to circumnavigate the hull. The ship was once part of the Italian Costa line, best known for the Costa Concordia. That's where she gets her one-letter last name.
The water was murky, but the sky was still straight up.
Down looked more treacherous, and endlessly more interesting.
There was also the Veronica L, an 82-foot cargo ship which I dove at night. Its mottled colors reminded me of Missoni.
And the King Mitch, a 200-foot mine sweeper-turned-cargo vessel in 120 feet of water. We never quite found it due to the current, but we did find its various friends.
Including the eagle ray.
Which doesn't mean everything in Grenada is underwater. Most Americans — at least those alive during Ronald Reagan's administration — will remember Operation Urgent Fury, when the 22nd Marine Amphibious Unit bound for Lebanon was diverted to the lush 133-square-mile island nation, six days after a Marxist military coup in 1983. The population back then was 91,000, and Cuba was building an airport. That's still where you fly in today, especially thanks to the nonstop JetBlue flights from JFK that started in June.
What do Grenadians think today about the U.S. military's October 25, 1983 visit? They celebrate it as their Thanksgiving Day. They built this Garden of Remembrance to the fallen American soldiers.
But this might be a better indication of the mood.
Until Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004, damaging 90 percent of the buildings on the island, Grenada was also the second largest producer of nutmeg in the world, after Indonesia. I've traveled a good deal around the Caribbean — Grenada's fish aren't different from any other Caribbean island's — but somehow its spices are another story. Here's a photo of a nutmeg. The yellow fruit is used for jam, the red is mace, and the pit is what you grate onto winter squashes. The little red ants are freeloaders. I don't know if they're tasty, too.
Grenada's chocolate is also really, really, really good. The dark organic bars from Grenada Chocolate Company are especially delicious. But this shows something different, held Thursdays, at the Sandals resort where I stayed.
Since you can't base a cuisine solely on chocolate and nutmeg (and cinnamon, cloves, and ginger), there's a de facto national dish called “oil down.” It's made with breadfruit, green bananas, callaloo, coconut milk, tumeric, okra, and salted pig snout or tail. There might also be chicken and potatoes, plus some dumplings.
You're not allowed to give leftovers to the locals.
It's true that oil down's a little heavy for the beach.
But after a day of exploring, plus a little rum and cocoa, it might help you fall to sleep.