Part of the Windward Islands in the southern Caribbean, Grenada is an independent nation within the British Commonwealth, and is situated 2,300 miles southeast of New York City, 450 miles south of Puerto Rico, and 90 miles north of Trinidad and Venezuela. Grenada lies 12 degrees north of the Equator and directly in the path of the trade winds (hence, the name Windward Islands). The trade winds make the seas around Grenada a favorite among sailors from all over the world and contribute comfortable breezes that offset the strong tropical sun. Grenada is approximately 22 miles long, 12 miles wide, and has a total area of 133 square miles, most of which is dramatically mountainous and covered with lush tropical vegetation. Its soil and climate are ideal for the growth of nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, clove, ginger, bay leaf, cocoa, and bananas.
Throughout the year, the temperature is 80-85° F during the day and 68-75° F at night. The period between January and June tends to be dry. From July to December, the air is humid and short, torrential showers are frequent. The reefs surrounding the Island are beautiful and fun to explore. Colorful tropical fish and other sea life abound close to shore and are easily accessible to snorkelers and scuba divers.
If you arrive early, you may wish to take tours around the Island and into St. George’s, the capital city. Approximately 7,500 of the Island's residents live in St. George’s, reputed by some travel experts to be the prettiest town in the Caribbean. Its red tile roofs pepper the hillside of an old volcano crater. Its picturesque harbor and yacht lagoon are unforgettable sights and the town is a favorite port-of-call for cruise lines from all over the world.
There is no charge for the University tour. They're a great chance to see and learn about Grenada, and to decide where you might like to return for more in-depth visits. To learn your way around the market, (where you may want to go from time to time to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables). The University offers a tour from the school to Grand Anse, showing bus stops and important places along the way, and ending at the Spiceland Mall. Anyone interested in hiking and nature will enjoy the tours to Annandale falls and Grand Etang. Students should bring an OLD pair of shoes that they are willing to throw away when they are done with the hike. It is VERY muddy!! Those students who hike in the Grand Etang National Forest or the Slope of Mt. St. Catherine, which is Grenada's highest peak at 2,756 feet, are rewarded with magnificent vistas and interesting flora and fauna.
During the term or after, take a tour of the country with one of the commercial tour operators. The tours usually start from the Grand Anse area and travel through the west coast towns of Gouyave and Victoria with a visit to the nutmeg processing facility in Gouyave, north to Sauters and a visit to Carib's Leap, south through Grenville and back over Grand Etang. The tours include a stop for lunch, often at Betty Mascoll's where you will have a buffet style meal of traditional Caribbean dishes. This is a great way to get to see the country, especially for the first time. Alternatively, you can get a group of students together, rent a car, buy a good map at the supermarket, and make your own tour.
Grenada has a unique culture that is a blend of African, French, and English influences. The inhabitants, slightly more than 100,000, are mainly of African descent, and a minority are of European extraction. English is the uniformly recognized and spoken language, although some of the older people and those from the interior speak a patois that is a holdover from the French. Grenadians are soft-spoken and have a lilting Caribbean accent.
Many Grenadians, particularly shopkeepers and office personnel, are very formal and reserved when "on the job;" however, little pleasantries that we often forget in the hustle and bustle of life in more industrialized countries are often appreciated. Grenadians are not driven by the same frantic sense of time with which many of us are familiar; therefore, you will be much happier if you "go with the flow" and relax your busy day-to-day pace.