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From Sugar Apples to Shooting Stars – Peaceable Paradise Found in Grenada

View from room veranda at The Lodge, Grenada

For me, the simple things in life hold the most meaning and magick. Be it Mother Earth’s natural beauty or the wonders of the heart, it is easy to be in awe daily. Present awareness and loving openness can shift your experience into life itself being a sacred meditation simply by living it fully.

One does not need to physically journey in order to find peace, paradise, the exotic (exotic  by definition can mean 1. From another part of the world; foreign or 2. Intriguingly unusual or different; excitingly strange)… You can journey within and harness your passions to create all things from your heart, sail the ocean of your imagination, make different choices or even one new choice a day, explore a new tasty dish or recipe, feast on a luscious mango, read an explorative book, connect with and smile at someone new, listen to the bird singing outside your window, smell the flowers, plants and air on a walk in your neighborhood, take an inspiring class, create something with your hands and heart… Life has much to offer for those openly seeking.

Me at St. Margaret’s Falls

Being an adventurer by heart with an innate soul need to explore, if I’m not traveling within my inner landscape and creating or discovering the new in my immediate environment, I’m off traveling the world when I can. Not everyone has this same calling, but for me, to immerse myself in other cultures, commune with our sacred Earth, her children and wondrous mysteries, connect with my collective family, and integrate the energies to support global healing is food to my soul.

I love to share the inspirations and discoveries I have on my journeys so that others can learn, enjoy, be inspired, and perhaps make the journeys themselves one day. I have loved helping others with information on exotic travels from my own experiences and am excited to have just received word that one of the people I’ve assisted is on her way with her family in just a couple of months to my last LOVED destination, The Galapagos Islands.

I’m always guided in synchronous alignment to each of the places I have traveled, for different meanings that unravel as I follow the nudges. We all do things differently and have different trajectories and missions so how things translate are relative to each. Being very symbolic, creating my life as a work of art, and being a cosmic explorer and Earth keeper, I’m a soul that needs to integrate and cultivate that which my heart loves.

Grand Etang Forest Reserve

I am grateful to have a knack for listening to the signs and messages, which guide me to amazing journeys and experiences. Having just returned from my latest travels to Grenada, I can share that this trip was no exception to that. I tend to be attracted to the more exotic, eclectic, and unconventional places that stem from deeper reasons than mere attractive “idea.” I didn’t know anything about Grenada before being guided to it, but I’m happy to have followed the nudges to explore it nonetheless. Not only did I discover it to hold a masterpiece, vegan sanctuary, but found it to be a paradise for anyone looking to immerse in peace, nature, self-nurturing, and new, transformative adventures.

View of Port of St. George’s from the veranda as night approaches

From start to finish of this trip, magick awaited in the simple wonders that were abound. It seemed around each corner we were greeted, acknowledged, gifted, and blessed. Arriving at night, I had no expectations other than to get a good sleep in to welcome our first day. However, the cosmos sent a beautiful hello to kick start things.

As we journeyed to our home-away-from-home for the next week – The Lodge – I gazed out the window of our host’s truck and, to my joy, saw the largest shooting star like no other I have ever seen. It appeared like a huge, brilliant fiery opening/portal in the dark sky and streamed briefly into the oblivion from which it ripped through. I’m still not convinced it was actually a star. 🙂 No one, but myself saw it. Each night the stars were enchantingly clear and sparkly, sprinkled like stardust ships across the black cosmic sea. We used the “Sky Map” application and were able to easily make out all the constellations, planets and stars. Many nights were spent star gazing from the veranda and we would see one or more shooting stars consistently. It’s so beautiful to be away from light pollution so that the veil is removed and the grander picture of our Universal connection can be experienced.

Port of St. George’s, Grenada

Our new home, the only exclusively vegan accommodation in the Caribbean offering lush, organic vegan epicurean dining, sat atop Morne Jaloux overlooking the port of St. George’s (considered the most beautiful port in the Caribbean by many). I’m convinced that the rumor of The Lodge having “the best view anywhere in the Caribbean (not just Grenada), period,” (stated by German cyclists who had ventured every island in these waters) IS spot on.

The Lodge, Grenada on Morne Jaloux

The Lodge is a gorgeous, 1925-built, old sugar cane plantation that resides on beautiful, lush land with a 360 degree view! of the surrounding waters (Caribbean and Atlantic). It remains in its original state with only some renovations, additions and new roof (which was removed in one of the hurricanes – Hurricane Ivan 2004). I found the rare pitch pine ceilings and accents to be gorgeous and almost naturally, artistically etched. It has a rustic, old charm feel and literally is your home when you set roots for your visit, complete with large lounging parlor and dining area, kitchen, private dining tables and couches on the verandas and two en suite bathroom guest rooms, each with their own huge private verandas that catch both sunrises and sunsets.

Lap pool at The Lodge

Owned and run by Mark Hardy (previously with his wife Mary who is no longer with us) for 12 years, you can enjoy a carbon neutral vegan visit – they even plant a tree for each visitor who stays at The Lodge (read more at the link). There is a gorgeous 25 meter lap pool at this retreat from the “real world” that we enjoyed each morning for exercise before breakfast, which is filled with rainwater and is pH balanced with an electrolytic/saline system keeping it chemical free. There are currently two guest rooms with no tv, dvd, radio, or electric air conditioning to allow you to shut down and “be” in the natural elements. The guest room limitation adds to the exclusive and personal touch and all of the culinary meal delights are available to you morning, noon and night and can be created to support any non-animal allergy and dietary needs and restrictions. Although I don’t drink myself, Mark does have vegan wines on hand for those who do.

The Lodge, Grenada with amazing orb and energies captured

You can feel the love and devotion that has gone into creating The Lodge. Mark (and Mary while she was on Earth) truly are examples of people living their dreams and sharing their passions and loves with others in service. Everything you see, other than the natural beauty, has been created by their hands. What makes this such a unique experience is the fine details that have all gone into this work of art and the impeccable service and care that will leave you spoiled in every way. The Lodge is 100% vegan down to the products available for use and purchase, to the products used to clean sheets and towels, the organic food, and Mark’s knowledge and recommendations. The Lodge is self sufficient in fruit and create their own fruit preserves you will enjoy at breakfast with freshly made organic bread that is amazing!

Inside The Lodge, Grenada

Mark has been vegan for almost 27 years and has an eclectic knowledge and experience that you will find most enjoyable to share in conversation during your stay. He is generous, respectfully and sweetly hospitable, creative, inspirational, compassionate and simply a gentle soul. You can tell he follows his heart, gives of his gifts, and lives his dreams. He is an amazing chef who creates recipes, much like myself, by inspiration and heart. He is also a musician of many years (drummer) and has traveled much of the world. His eclectic and exotic tastes were music to my own heart. He took us on a global culinary journey each night with exotic vegan dishes that traveled the world through our tummies. Breakfasts are included and lunch and dinners are optional, but I highly recommend you embrace the options, as most everyone does that stays there, and immerse yourself in vegan bliss.

Breakfast at The Lodge, Grenada

We kept our lunches open merely because we knew we’d be out and about on daily explorations, but I would love to have sampled his two course lunch options being that the four course dinners were out of this world. We looked forward to greeting and ending the day with his wonderful offerings.

As mentioned, a brisk swim  in the lap pool was followed by 8 am breakfast (it is served 8-10 am) consisting of an organic granola, a huge bowl of fresh fruit galore, exotic fruit and coconut smoothies, fresh organic bread with their own fruit preserve Mark makes, special toasted tahini from England and organic peanut butter options, and herbal teas or organic Arabica coffee from Costa Rica.

Amazing Indonesian dish at The Lodge

Grenadian chocolate mousse at The Lodge

Dinners were served at 7 pm and included a soup, salad, main entree, and light dessert that perfectly complimented. The magick is in the perfect blend of spices and tastes that left your senses feeling whole and complete. We explored Indonesian, Moroccan, Peruvian, Japanese and other exotic creative entrees like one of our favs – deviled, spicy beets, sweet potatoes, green beans and a polenta stack infused with tapanade filling. MMMMMMM AHHMAZING! ALL OF IT! Desserts completed the meal and were perfect, light and healthy blends of exotic fruit sorbets with a finale of Grenadian chocolate mousse to put closure to our blissful week.

Sugar apple at The Lodge, Grenada

Sugar apple at The Lodge, Grenada

One of my exciting and yummy new discovery favorites was Mark’s introduction of sugar apples. We were lucky to enjoy these from a just-harvest from his land, which he announced as dessert one evening to our delight. I was grateful to receive his tree’s gift, as this truly is a special fruit. It looks somewhat like a pine cone or small grenade that you can simply open by gently pulling apart since it is so tender when ripe. The inside has little pods of sweet custard wrapped around blackish-brown seeds that you can pop in your mouth as you tenderly chew around them and enjoy it melting in your mouth. I literally licked and ate all the remaining remnants of custardy flesh from the inside after I’d finished with the custard around the seeds. YUMM! I was so excited that we decided to take home the remaining seeds in hopes to grow a tree ourselves 🙂 I’ll keep you posted.

Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed not only the accommodations, views, energy, and locally grown organic foods, but also valued our conversations with Mark, meeting and spending time with his son Mathew who helps out, and his beautiful eclectic taste in music that graced each of our candle lit dinners on the veranda. We even had a chance to catch ear of a little of his local band practicing one late afternoon in the side parlor.

Vegetable Roti, Grenada

Callaloo soup, La Sagesse Beach, Grenada

Mark generously shared the places we could find vegan food options for lunch and what to look for. We enjoyed the local organic Vegetable Roti, which was a light pastry-like wrap filled to the rim with vegetables and slightly spicy, saucy broth. It is quite a filling meal that comes in a thick, square or slightly rectangular shape. We also very much enjoyed the Callaloo soup specialty of the island – a local leaf blend soup. So delicious! All of Mark’s soups totally inspired me and with fall and winter seasons at hand, I’m looking forward to creating some yummy soups.

In the front seat of Route 3 bus, St. George’s, Grenada – the driver’s seat is on the right in Grenada

Grenada is a lovely, small, and young volcanic island of 100,000 population (60% of which are under 25) and is only 21 x 12 miles in size. Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, it is home to a huge variety of tropical plants and 45 beaches, all of which are public. It is easy to get around on the local bus system, which is fun and a way to soak in the local energy. We quickly became “Grenadians” as we immersed in their main form of transportation. 99.9% of the time we were the only non-locals traveling their bus system, which made it that much more fun. Most tourists it seems, use taxis, but I assure you you’re missing out and can save a lot of money by using this easy system. We jumped on a couple routes a day and at a dollar a ride, it is quite efficient and a way to converse with the lovely Grenadian people. Buses are small vans that can hold upwards of 22 or so people and you just pack in, 3-4 a row and are off on the very narrow, steep streets that run throughout the island. Very much reminiscent of San Francisco and Europe.

Grenada not only shares its array of natural beauty, but also is home to the historic Georgian town of St. George’s, the Plantation Houses, Forts, and some of the oldest rum factories in the world. It has a very turbulent history filled with pain and suffering, that includes the very sad times of slavery. To understand is to truly immerse yourself and for me, I always feel that my travels help to integrate things and allow me to assist in healing on personal AND collective levels.

Grande Anse Beach, Grenada

The beaches are beautiful and the waters in the low to mid 80’s with no waves on the Caribbean side so basically you could just float and swim all day. Our timing was great, right before the high season kicked in, so the beaches were virtually private if not completely and like a “peace” of paradise heaven always, which was mirrored in having no one else at The Lodge staying at the same time either. The perfect ingredients to a week of relaxing, shutting out and down, and just receiving and recharging.

Besides all of the above mentioned blessings we experienced, here are some of the other fun highlights, memories, facts, and recommendations to help with your potential  future visit to Grenada:

Demonstration about the spices at Douglas Town Estate, Grenada

  • I learned from Mark about a plant named after me – the Tania! While Grenada is known as the Isle of Spice and is home to ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, mace, turmeric, vanilla and cocoa to name but a few, it also grows exotic vegetables like callaloo, dasheen, okra and tania! There are more spices per square mile than any other place on the planet. Grenada produces one third of the world’s nutmeg and is the second largest producer.

    Guy Fawkes celebration, Grenada – prepping the “dummy” for the parade

  • Mathew took us to experience the Guy Fawkes (or Guido Fawkes) celebration which concludes with a bonfire of a “dummy” Fawkes burning at the stake. Guy Fawkes was a member of a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. A Guy Fawkes mask is worn by V, the anarchist revolutionary who tries to convince the people to rule themselves in V for Vendetta, if you remember that movie. This day happens to be celebrated every year in Grenada on the night of November 5th (our first full day on the island), even though most of the Grenadians really no longer know what they are celebrating. It’s a long night of loud music, parading steel drum and Guy Gawkes dummy and coming together in the streets until midnight. We only explored it for about an hour just to see what it was all about.

    Me at BBC Beach, Grenada

  • We agreed with Mark that our favorite beach was BBC Beach, which is like a horseshoe shaped cove, was quiet, beautiful, and had a restaurant where they served vegetable Roti – highly recommend this beach!
  • Snorkeling Flamingo Bay with Eco Dive had beautiful reefs and tons of fish varieties that comes in second for me of all of my snorkeling experiences – nothing will top the Galapagos Islands! So this is a great place to snorkel.

    “The Vicissitudes” at the Underwater Sculpture Park

  • We learned about the Underwater Sculpture Park in Molinere Bay that is home to a collection of ecological underwater contemporary art consisting of sixty-five sculptures by Jason deCaires Taylor and covering an area of 800 sq meters. This is “The Vicissitudes” pictured in the photo that honors the African Ancestors that were lost in the sea during the middle passage. It is the most recognized work in the park featuring a ring of 26 standing children, holding hands and facing outwards into the current. Definitely worth experiencing.
  • La Sagesse Beach on the Atlantic side was a beautiful private cove recommended by our amazing hiking guide, Telfor, that is home to great Callaloo soup at the beach restaurant – known to be the best on the island, but we would have to agree that Mark’s still beat it out, as good as it was 🙂
  • We discovered the grounds of Coyaba Resort, which is an all-inclusive resort on Grande Anse Beach that we intended on enjoying their beachfront grass grounds and lounge area after snorkeling and that manifested. Never hurts to ask, as the lovely security guard welcomed us in where we discovered eggplant burgers and bruschetta sandwiches. Not a bad find for vegans crashing a more generic, all-inclusive. What I loved was that no where were we pushed any processed foods or imitation “meats”. Strictly vegetable, fruits and grains, just as I like it!

    Organic cocoa galore at Douglas Town Estate, Grenada

  • We learned and of course taste-tested Grenada’s “best quality cocoa on the planet,” as it is known to be. The key being the rich volcanic soil and being 12 degrees North of the Equator. YUM! We picked up several bags of pure organic cocoa balls that can be dropped in hot water for a quick chocolaty warm, liquid treat!
  • The Arawak are the original indigenous people of Grenada, no longer on the island, as they were wiped out by the British and their diseases.

    Telfor and me in the Grand Etang Forest Reserve, Grenada

  • Hiking with Telfor Bedeau is a must-do! He is a 73+ year old hiking guide who knows every inch of Grenada and all about its flora and fauna and then some! He is more fit than any young person or group of young people put together and hiked with us in only his little yellow jelly sandals! He kayaked around the island (64 miles) alone just recently in about 17 hours if I remember correctly. He has also hiked the tallest peak 180 times and is going for 200. On each birthday he always does some remarkable feat and gets coverage on tv and radio about all that he adventures out and succeeds in doing. He reminded me so much of my French grandfather who just passed recently. It was a lovely connection to say the least. He can take you on any adventure you desire. We explored the Grand Etang Forest Reserve on foot with him, hiking the volcanic crater edge and inside the crater, as well as hiked to St. Margaret’s Falls. This was a long day from 10 am to about 5 pm of some of the most amazing hiking that was truly “natural” to the extent of Telfor bush wacking most of our way in the dense rain forests around the crater and fashioning walking sticks for us to assist in the steep mud and rock embedded earth. Again, no one else on the journey or on any of the paths, nor at the falls except for us stumbling upon a small group of very friendly military doing some maneuvers (Well at least that’s what they were supposed to be doing lol! although seemed quite content napping and talking. I can’t blame them in this paradise). Peace found in communion with nature! Telfor’s company is “Explore Grenada on Foot” and he can be reached at (473) 442-6200, or if you stay at The Lodge, simply ask Mark to hook you up.

    Dave in the Grand Etang Forest Reserve, Grenada with the military who were taking naps and hanging out

    Sensitive plant in Grand Etang Forest Reserve, Grenada – they are the lilac flowered plants that have the delicate thin almost zipper-like looking leaves on longer stems

  • I thoroughly enjoyed learning about and seeing all the different varieties of tropical plants. One of my favorite being the “sensitive” plant, as Telfor said it was called. This lovely plant interacts by sense of touch, gently coiling and folding its delicate leaves and stem when you place your finger on it.

    My Mona Monkey soul friend in Grand Etang Forest Reserve, Grenada

  • Mona Monkeys! I LOVE these little ones. These monkeys are not native to Grenada, but were transported to the island aboard slave ships from West Africa in the 18th century. I loved experiencing the monkeys on Bali, but these Mona Monkeys are completely different souls. They are unafraid, calm and gentle, and will come to you when you have a banana, from the rain forests. They are so sweet and have such soulful eyes and no qualms about you gently stroking them. Most were on their way after feeding and connecting for a bit, but one in particular was communing more. I just know I was soul connected with him, as I was so sad to leave him. I felt a piece of my heart remain with his. I was able to place my hands on him and pet him softly, or rest my hands on him giving him Reiki, rest my head on his shoulder and he would peer into my eyes and just hung out as I talked to him, even after his bananas were eaten. If not for having to leave I would have stayed with him much longer. He was the same one you will see pictured with Dave below, touching his hand in deep connection. A beautiful memory indeed.

    Mona Monkey communing with Dave in Grand Etang Forest Reserve, Grenada

  • Touring the entire island with Mandoo Tours is another highly recommended way to get in all the main highlights and also receive a plethora of knowledge. Mandoo, a former British merchant naval sailor, is the island’s activist and environmentalist that is so woven into his community, knows of world affairs and the issues most vegans are compassionate about, and assists the well-being of the children and the island, donating his time to teaching the kids in school about tourism when he is not touring. He was awarded for outstanding contribution towards the development of the tourism sector with the Pearl Independence Award, as well as awards from the Grenada Bureau of Standards and the Willie Redhead Foundation for his dedication to environmental protection issues and the observance of Standards in Grenada. We explored Concord Falls, Douglas Town Estate – an old sugar cane plantation now the largest on the island producing spices and cocoa, the oldest functioning rum distillery (1785 built) in the western hemisphere – River Antoine Estate, home to Rivers Rum, the Belmonte Estate where we enjoyed a 3 course vegan meal (concluded by vegan chocolate cake) overlooking the cocoa and spice plantation where we could see the cocoa being turned by bare foot (called trampling or dancing of the cocoa), and many other points of interest and stops along the way. We also enjoyed sampling and purchasing the famous “The Grenada Chocolate Company” chocolate. I took home 6 bars, including 100% pure organic, vegan dark chocolate! Now that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout. I don’t recall ever having 100% proof! Mandoo is a wonderful guide host. His motto he shared with us is: Life is uncertain. Death is certain. Give it your best shot. Live your life fully. Yes sir! Mandoo holds the Grenada Board of Tourism award for winning tour guide. I can see why. He offers personalized tours and more. All information and how you can contact him for your journey in Grenada can be found here: Mandoo Tours

    River Antoine Estate, Grenada – oldest functioning rum distillery in the western hemisphere

    Belmonte Estate, Grenada – worker “trampling” the cocoa to help turn it while it sun dries

    Ethereal sunrise rainbow over Port of St. George’s, Grenada

    Mondoo and me with the Grenadines behind us – Caribbean island chain

  • And besides the amazing shooting stars, the last 5 days in a row we were greeted at sunrise with full half-circle rainbows straight in front of our veranda over the port of St George’s. The first being a double rainbow and the last accompanied by a stunning and ethereal sunrise.

My seven Andara crystals accompanied me on this journey and each day I was guided to work with one, occasionally two, that felt in alignment with the energy. I took them out on each day’s excursion and also slept with one or two under my pillow each night. I love that they are each now infused with the Caribbean sea, Atlantic Ocean, waterfall, and equatorial sun energies to bring back with me. I also love that I was able to do some crystal healing grid work by anchoring in their energies – something I do on all of my global journeys. I found it powerfully potent to also swim and hike with them in my hands. It definitely added to the entire experience and upon returning I’ve felt continuously energized.

The Lodge in Grenada is definitely a vegan haven must for exclusive, quality pampering in rustic paradise. Whether vegan or not, you will find the accommodations, food, and host to be special delicacies and gifts worth nurturing yourself with. And I know we all need some good old fashioned nurturing these days. The people of Grenada are warm and friendly, the natural beauty is inspiring, healing, grounding, and recharging.  It is one of those places and experiences that put you in touch with the simple values that rewire your priorities in life.

If you enjoy the adventure of living fully and love to travel, this is one of the places you can add to your list that can support compassionate life style needs and explorative new horizon desires. And if you’re not a traveler then perhaps my sharing will help you travel within your creative imagination, igniting a spark, and will inspire you in ways relative to your resonation to seek, put to action, and find ways to bring a bit of the “exotic” and a “peace” of paradise into your daily practice of life.

I am noticing continued themes, messages, and people I am encountering that mirror the heart of who I really am, and so the reinvention of self continues. The process is definitely a joy to witness, as I challenge myself further every day. I return with new inspirations, focuses, and clarity, as well as received the next exotic adventure to celebrate 2013 and my 40th year of this life with. 🙂

My 7 amazing Andara Crystals sparkling in the equatorial Grenadian sun

I know, for me, a renewed sense of peace, recharge, and reprogramming from my experiences (whether travel or finding the wonders in and around me), is always accompanied by majorly transformative energy that opens new doors to other realities. There are so many things I am immensely grateful for. I encourage everyone to embrace their own sense of peaceable paradise in life , however that translates for you. I know that when I’m in my day-to-day experiences, I find ways to create it in the simple things I have with me and around me. I believe that anything you can do to foster a sense of wonder and create inspiring and peaceful moments outside of your routine, can greatly benefit you.

Life is a blessing and gift and magick awaits the heart-guided explorers that live life fully. Everything is a journey of the heart and all roads lead there.

I took nearly 500 photos during this trip, so as you can imagine, it’s quite a challenge to choose which to share and so I chose those for this blog post that visually accompanied the story. I was excited to find so many amazing energies show up in the photos, including orbs, what to me look like faeries or sprites, and other ethereal presences. Always interesting to see what will appear and I’m not surprised, given the energy felt and worked with that so much did come through. If you are on Facebook, you will be able to find a bunch more of my fav and highlight photos in my album titled Grenada 2012, shortly, at my page: Tania Marie. May peace and inspiration fill your heart!

…there are times when we stop. We sit still…We listen and breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper. ~ James Carroll

Double rainbow over Port of St. George’s, Grenada from the veranda – first rainbow display of 5 days in a row

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