Friday, 19 October 2012

Island Photos

Yesterday I accompanied a group of "Significant Others" on an exciting tour of Grenada! The day started bright and early...but rather than write about the day, I'm going to show you. And maybe narrate a little as necessary. 

Pearl Airport, St. Andrew's Parish.
These are remains of a Cuban airplane. The 26-military plane was apparently a gift to Cuba from the Soviet Union in the 70s. After the US intervention in Grenada, the plane and airport were abandoned (or so says the internet).

Our mode of transportation

The next stop was Belmont Estates. Cocoa beans, that will eventually become chocolate, are grown here. The property is family owned, employs 100 workers, and is comprised of 400 acres of land. Most of the cocoa beans become dark chocolate bars produced by The Grenada Chocolate Company! These chocolate bars are organic and completely island derived and produced.
For real, these chocolate bars are the best dark chocolate bars I have ever had!

Cocoa beans are white when they come out of their pods. The beans are placed in large bins to ferment for 7 days. I'm not sure why...I wasn't listening to the tour. I think it's supposed to bring out the flavour of the beans. Banana leaves and cloths are placed on top of the beans to keep the heat and moisture.

Fermented cocoa beans begin turning the characteristic brown but continue to darken as they dry in the sun. Hundreds of thousands of beans are dried and raked for multiple days to air and heat dry before becoming wonderful chocolate.

We opened up the outer shell and tasted the cocoa bean inside. Strong flavour. They definitely needed some sugar. I will interject that The Grenada Chocolate Company does sell 100% cocoa bars. Our tour guide said that they taste pretty much like this bean. I'm gonna stick with the sugar-kind of chocolate.

Cocoa tea sample

Visiting the parrots and monkeys on the estate

Finally, we visited River Antoine Rum distillery. The entire rum distilling process happens in this old cement building, complete with functioning water wheel and giant copper vats of boiling sugarcane liquid.

Sugar cane enters this huge crusher to extract the sweet juices. The dried cane stalks are then used to fuel the giant boilers used to process the soon-to-be rum.

Fermenting sugarcane juice

One hundred thousand bottles are produced in this distillery every year. Almost everything is done manually. I mean, men with buckets transfer the cane liquid from one vat to another and the finished product is bottled by hand. Rivers rum is another organically produced product of Grenada. River Antoine is too small of a facility to export, but demand is high enough in Grenada that they have plenty of work to do.
Illegal rum. At least, illegal to export into the US. Notice the 75% symbol..
Our grand adventure was supposed to end with a beach swim but weather prevented us. We did end up stopping at Grand Etang National Park to visit the monkeys as we were driving back. I definitely enjoyed seeing more of Grenada with a fun group of ladies. I live in such a beautiful place, eh?
Mom and Dad, see what you have to look forward to?!

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