Monday, April 23, 2012
Inland Grenada Where Acrobats Drive Cars
Today (Friday, April 20th) Francis, the owner of a six-car rental outfit drove us to the Police Station at St George’s to obtain a temporary driver’s licence for Al, and surrendered his Toyota mini-van to us around 10:00 am. During the drive from St David’s to the main city, we talked about the bad driving habits of the drivers of the mini-van collectivos etc. I made a remark which seemed hilarious to Francis; about the fact that although for the people of Caribbean there was no need for making any haste for anything in life, as soon as they sit behind the wheel, they start running at a mind numbing speed. And the roads that they fly on are a different phenomenon. The cars in either direction brush each other while passing, there is no shoulder at either side, one side is usually on a thousand feet cliff, the other is at a wall carved out of the mountain. But the scariest part of the road is the trench, nicely made of concrete, about four feet deep, cut between the road and the wall, no shoulder. Anywhere else in the world with these conditions most of the pedestrians would be killed and one of every ten car would be totaled. Not here, so far in the week that we had been on the roads, we saw no accidents. The difference is the attitude of the drivers; they are patient, courteous and respectful! They don’t seem to be selfish or having a need to prove to others that they are smarter. We were in the city when Al took the wheel (right hand side of the van), driving on the left, English style, and I was sitting on the left seat. I got so scared looking at the trench, almost under my seat, while cars coming towards us from the other direction and random pedestrians were walking in front of us or leaping towards us, I could not stop myself from screaming at Al to slow down or stop every second. He got angry and told me to trust him. If I can help it I don’t like nagging, but the conditions have to be a little better to be able to trust anyone. Thankfully Al had driven on the left several times before; he had spent three months in Indonesia, and drove a van in similar conditions (twenty years ago by the way) and two days in Trinidad, four years ago, when we rented a car and saw the country side with Bahadir and Christina, just before our sailing trip at St Vincent and the Grenadines and again in the BVI last year. However, the roads in Trinidad were much better, although the drivers were kind of similar. None of us had been scared in Trinidad while Al was driving. However he admitted that on most other occasions he had driven American style automobiles, driver’s seat was on the left. This was the first time that he drove an English style car for a while, wheel by right hand, shift by left; signal by right hand, windshield wiper control by left. Thankfully it was an automatic car; he did not have to deal with a stick shift on those slippery and winding mountain roads. Anyway, the first thing we wanted to do was to check out the airport and the areas close by, such as Point Salines, in order to find a place to stay on our last night, since our direct flight to Toronto, Canada is starting at 7:30 am. Al cannot trust the taxi drivers in the Caribbean in general, so wants to be close to the airport for such an early flight. We drove around and inquired at two places. One was a pretentious resort, almost across the road from the airport, but the asking price seemed too high to me. We first thought we could have lunch there, but did not like the looks of the restaurant area, and left. The second place (Grooms Beach Villas & Resort) was much more reasonable, so we made a reservation for May 2nd. We learned that they only served breakfast and dinner, but a nice restaurant on the beach below could be an option for lunch that day. So we left the car at the resort, and walked down the road for five minutes. The weather was rainy/cloudy until then, but somewhat cleared when we got there, so we saw the beach with all its majesty. I really liked the setting and the atmosphere of the place called The Beach House, the grounds of which ends at the beach. I am thinking of starting early on the 2nd, and spend the day there at the beach.