"Unfortunately our cruiser attire of shorts, T-shirts and flip flops was not deemed dignified enough to enter the ministry"
This week we’ve been braving bureaucracy to get the cats on our flight back to the UK. We had to get a pet import permit for a start. As the cats stay on board the boat, we have been declaring them at customs, but not applying for the import permits. However, as we will have to take them to the airport, they need the paperwork to be allowed onshore.
I looked online about how to get this permit and it said we had to write a physical letter to the Ministry of Agriculture. I managed to find a phone number, but it appeared to be out of use as no one ever answered it. The idea of writing a letter seemed so alien now; plus impractical for living on a boat at anchor - where would they send the reply? We decided we would have to go to the ministry to try and get the permit in person. We got the bus to the capital St Georges and walked up the hill through the botanical gardens to the Ministry of Agriculture. Unfortunately our cruiser attire of shorts, T-shirts and flip flops was not deemed dignified enough to enter the ministry, so we had to walk into town to buy new clothes. While in town we also took the opportunity to print out the paperwork that the vet would need to fill in at a printing shop. It was a relief to be admitted into the rarefied air-conditioned ministry after a sweaty walk in full length jeans and shoes. Fortunately, once we were inside, we were able to get the permits sorted out quickly.
While we were in St George’s we decided to finally visit the fort. We bumped into a local walking guide called Jimmy, who said he could give us a tour and we decided to take him up on his offer. Jimmy offered us a different perspective from some of the other Grenadians we have met. Samuel from the chocolate factory and another man we met on a bus were very pro the revolution and nostalgic for those days. Jimmy on the other hand is very glad the revolution is over. He had a traumatic experience as a fifteen year old and it has put him off socialist governments. As he took us up to Fort George up on the hill, he pointed out the steep hill, where as a fifteen year old, he had had to jump and run from firing troops in 1983. The fort was built by the French to keep out the British, but was later taken over by the British. After the Grenadian revolution in 1979, Bernard Coard, the second in command to Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, proposed a powersharing agreement. The Cubans advised Maurice Bishop against this and the Coard faction arrested Bishop for reneging on this agreement. He and other ministers were taken to the fort in 1983, just four years after the revolution. All were summarily shot, including a minister who was reported to be pregnant. We saw the bullet holes in the wall where they were shot. According to Jimmy, the pregnant minister, Jacqueline Creft stepped forward to inform them she was pregnant and that’s why the bullet holes that mark where she was shot are against a metal post in front of the wall. Her body has never been found so reports that she was pregnant cannot be confirmed. Fifteen year old Jimmy had joined a crowd at the fort to demand the release of Bishop and his ministers. The military not only shot those they had arrested, but also fired on the crowd. This was immensely traumatic for him and a reason why he sees the subsequent American invasion as a rescue mission, in contrast to other people we have spoken to. Jimmy is a big admirer of the Queen and the Royal Family and sees the UK as the mother country.
I have to say, I was surprised to hear this view, as the reports on the recent royal tour showed the general opinion of Grenadians to be moving towards that of a republic. The idea of the UK as a mother country, I also saw as something from an earlier time. However, like anywhere, a multiplicity of views exist. Jimmy is glad that Grenada became independent but wants it to remain in the commonwealth. Something that he shares with other Grenadians is the view that the treatment of Grenada’s fruit crops, especially mangoes, was much better during the revolution. We have heard a lot of complaints that most of the mango crop is now wasted, while during the revolution all of the fruits were picked and canned or juiced and that people were more community minded. Like other Grenadians of this generation that we have met, Jimmy is very in touch with nature. This is a sharp contrast to attitudes in the UK. All of the Grenadians we have met have been keen to show us the different trees and to give us scrapings of cinnamon bark, fresh nutmegs, mangoes, hibiscus and tamarind from the trees that grow all around.
The next step was for the cats to have their entry paperwork for entering the UK completed by a vet. The vet came to our boat to check the cats and to fill in the paperwork. This cannot be done more than 10 days before we fly. Then it is sent to the cargo handlers who contact the airline, who confirm that the cats will be booked on the flights. It is all very last minute as you can see. He filled in as much as he could and then told us that the form needed to go to the Ministry of Agriculture to be signed by the Chief Veterinary Officer of Grenada before it can be completed. We had no idea that this was a requirement. We will now have to go back to the Ministry of Agriculture, hope the Chief Veterinary Officer is available and hope for the best. We are having the boat hauled out on Monday, so we can’t go until Tuesday at the earliest.
The boat is being hauled out on Monday and we have a lot of work on the boat we need to get done before we fly back to the UK, so this will be our last post of the season. As we look back to less than a year ago when we left Southampton to start on this journey, we had no idea whether our dreams could actually become a reality. The trip has certainly had its challenges, but also so many amazing moments too. We are looking forward to coming back next sailing season to explore the Leeward Islands. We’ll be back in London on 21st July to work for a few months and will come back out at the beginning of December. We hope to catch as many of you as possible while we are home - please get in touch. We’re hoping to continue with our podcast while we are home, so please look out for new episodes on our website, Spotify or Youtube. The sailing blog and vlog will recommence in December.
Best wishes, Steph, Luciano, Suki and Chocolate
This week's Vlog.
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