Yes! River tubing! How long has it been since I've plonked my butt down into an inner tube and let loose for some fun on a DIFFERENT kind of body of water? Well that's too long!
Arriving here to the Cruiser Mecca on the south coast of Grenada very late in the "season"... we worried that everyone would be leaving and there would be nothing to do! That certainly has not been the case. Evidently the "season" is still on as cruisers are arriving almost daily by plane to take up where they left off at the beginning of hurricane season. Then there are plenty who just linger around like we do!
Our calendar filled up fast and we've actually had to begin passing on things just to make time to keep up with our normal activities, like boat maintenance and sleeping! We can let the mundane things go but anything that involves a trip into the interior of the island is high on our list!
Nice restaurant and bar
We met up with other Cruisers at Whisper Cove Marina, who kindly allows us to leave our dinghies on their dock so that vans can shuttle us to the various events held around the island. Shade Man was our driver and tour guide extraordinaire!
Patrick (the name his momma gave him) has been driving Cruisers around the island for years and he made us feel very much welcome. He takes his job seriously and although any bus ride in these islands can be a harrowing experience... Shade Man puts our wellbeing and happiness first to ensure that we come back to him again and again!
A little Christmas cheer!
In Shade Man's gentle care, we were whisked through the streets of Grenada. We skirted the town of St. Georges, seeing the harbour below and the tiny boats down there where we had once stood gazing up at the houses on these very hills. We passed many tiny villages and enjoyed the fresh air blowing jungle scents into the open windows.
Nutmeg and Mace growing in the wild!
Shademan - nicknamed for his policy of finding a shady parking place since his bus has no air conditioning... put this little expedition together for us at a special "Cruiser rate". We get to do the same excursions that folks on the Cruise Ships do, only we pay far less for it than they do. Let's just say that perhaps our standards are a bit less gentrified than theirs and our bus isn't as shiny... but we have the same - or better - fun and get to see a different side of Grenada!
We arrived to the Pavilion Restaurant where we would have lunch after our float down the river. It's a pretty little open-air bar/restaurant with ongoing renovations going on upstairs where there will soon be rooms for rent. The staff were friendly and very welcoming. They were short on river staff so our group had to be split into two. Bruce and I paired with Paul and Deb (Kelly Nicole) and one of the ladies there hung out with us during our wait and answered our endless questions about the place and about life on Grenada in general.
We were led down some stairs through more buildings that were quiet now, but at night were used as a river-front bar and venue for weddings and private parties. The entire river bank was "paved" with cement and rocks in a very uneven and natural way to cut down on mud and possibly to prevent erosion. It makes a nice launchpad for our tubing adventure!
We chose our tubes, floatation vests and head protection
First group is launched!
Muddy River after the rain!
Load 'em UP!
And we're off, floating down the river with no idea what's in store for us!
The guides gave us a short instructional safety talk, then they helped us each mount our tube. One-by-one we were loaded and given a gentle push into the stream where the current took over our fate. Someone told us that the last time they did this tour, the water was crystal clear and a little more rushing. The muddy waters from recent rains weren't as picturesque, but we didn't need ANY more rushing water! The water level was perfect to keep our butts from bumping most of the rocks, but we quickly learned to lift our butts!
Our tubes had hand-holds for a reason! The current carried us through narrow passages where the water rushed wildly and we twirled like rubber duckies! The rule was - if you get stuck just wait patiently for the guide to come and give you a shove... Which they did. What they didn't tell us was that along with that push would be a SPIN! I caught several sly smirks as I whirled away from my rescuer!
Coming through!! Look out!!
Just seems strange waiting to be rescued!
Collecting us for a tricky part
Say CHEESE! Lovin' this!
Oh NO!! My turn!
Several times they would collect us and send us through a rough patch one-by-one.
Hang on Deb!!!
These are the ones that worry me... Getting trapped in an eddy can flip the tube!
My Happy Guy!
Another gathering point. This is the BIG ONE!
You first Deb! Oh NOOOOO!!
Line her up and give her a shove!
You're next Buddy...
That wasn't so bad... I'm just gonna hang out over here for a bit.
A little help from my friend!
Here comes Bruce!
Hey Deb! Whatcha doing over there!?
And then it was all over...
Peaceful and serene
A Heron hunts near the shore
Spiders? What spiders!?
We drifted beneath huge bouquets of bamboo
1-2-3-4, yep! All accounted for...
Bloop! Those are the ones that will get you!
The end so soon??? Can we go again???
We reluctantly climbed the banks to our awaiting van. Fun's over...
What an awesome time that was! There was just enough water rushing over the rocks to give us a bit of a thrill. The feeling of imminent danger with an edge of doubt creeping in kept us clinging to our tubes for dear life and gave us a sense of victory after defeating the mighty Balthazar!
I don't know what distance we covered on the winding river, but the ride back to the restaurant seemed very short. We arrived to find the first group of tubers seated on the veranda waiting patiently with cold drinks in hand.
We enjoyed a delicious lunch of local food and loaded back up for the drive home as the afternoon sun sank and cast a different light on the jungle.
What a beautiful island this is. Today was the first of many fun outings we have planned. Looking forward - we have a year to spend down here doing - yes, boat projects - but otherwise, whatever we please. Dos Libras' dance card is filling fast!