Fiasco in Grenada

Yep, even paradise has a worm in the Apple. And you know what they say about why it’s better to find 1/2 a worm in the Apple versus none; if you find none then obviously you’ve already eaten the worm. Ok, Ok, I know it’s lame.

Truly, the turtle experience reminded me of the book Confederacy of Dunces.  Julie on Sea Otter had contacted Keith about a Leatherback Turtle watching tour. She had arranged for  us to pick up a local sandwich called a Roti and then we would get to the beach head and wait for the Turtles to show up and deposit their eggs on the Beach.  We were informed that there was a 75% chance of having this happen. But it was what we were not informed of that made the trip a mess.

We arrived on time at the marina where the Taxi was to pick us up. We were to be given red flashlights at the beach head and if we had any of our own we were to bring them. The light we are told will not distract the turtles. There we were informed that we wouldn’t be stopping for Roti’s but instead we would stop at KFC (of all places). Fortunately W/ and I had a large late lunch, not sure if we really wanted another Roti. They are good and they’re full of Curry. Curry can only go so far in my diet.

So off we went, taking the Magic Moutain ride through scenic Grenada, we arrived at KFC after sunset.  We ate on the luxurious (not) wooden tables down the street. The town dogs were waiting for scraps, and we ate rather quickly and went.

Then we arrived at the Levera Beach head where there is a small building with some restrooms and a new guide. She tells us a little about the turtles; conflicting some with what we’ve picked up from the internet; oh well, it is the Caribbean. But what concerns us is that she’s already downplaying the possibility of seeing any turtles laying eggs. She also said that most of the season for laying is now over!  Wait; did anyone tell us that before we left for the tour?  In addition she didn’t pass out any “red” lights.  Not good.

We depart the Beach building and head down the road to the beach where some local and imported “researchers” (from Ocean Spirits) are to be doing beach sweeps roughly every 1/2 hour.  They’re to be sweeping from each end towards the middle and then when they see a turtle they’re to call the guide and then take us to the turtle. We’re brought to the beach and deposited to wait. We had been told to bring mosquito spray and blankets for waiting on the beach. At the Levera Beach Center there were some wooden picnic tables and no one could understand why there wasn’t any table or seating out here. This is after all an organized “Tour”. There were also no toilets anywhere around; fortunately no one required any and I guess the ocean would have accommodated any needs.

About an hour into our wait the “researchers” discovered some Leatherback babies wandering around on the beach. They gathered them up; put them in a bucket to show us.  No one from the group was able to go see them wandering the beach or even where the hatchlings came from. We were informed that the “researchers” never found the nest.

After about 10 minutes of everyone looking into the bucket and attempting to take pictures with red lights the guide let them go and they wandered (with some help from a light) to the sea.

Then we waited. The researchers never came back to do a beach sweep.  We waited. After another hour passed by and no beach sweep we were informed that they were tired and wouldn’t be doing another sweep, and also that the park closed at midnight and we had to go. WAIT?  WHAT?

We were never informed of any of this. In fact one site implies that the females don’t often arrive till after 11:30.

Finally after some grumbling (what were we to do) we all climbed in the taxi’s for the ride back. The driver thought if he provided us with some Rum and Coke’s or Carib’s (beer) we would take it much better. That was not to be. And while all the Taxi’s look full size; personally I’m not sure they are. I can never seem to get comfortable in any of them. I was however only awakened once when the driver left the curve of the roadway for a driveway and came to an abrupt; but slightly bumpy halt.

Personally I’m not going on another  Turtle Tour here again until  there are some changes to how they operate. There should be a guarantee that you’ll see what you take the tour for. Oh; I know, it’s Mother Nature and all that, but hell; Sport fisherman in Florida guarantee that you’ll catch fish or you don’t pay them. Fish too are related to Mo’ Nature – No?  The tour operators need to communicate to each other before hand. The Taxi driver said one thing, the guide another and we never even got to talk to a magical “researcher” (which by the way you can pay to become!)

I felt that someone (I don’t know if it was the researchers, guide or driver) figured since we saw baby Leatherbacks then we got our money’s worth. Not in my book!  I want my money back. I know I won’t receive a refund but I can help ensure others don’t fall prey to what I consider an island fiasco.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay long

ps  This hasn’t soured me on Grenada. Just on organized tours that aren’t very organized.  I too will be more cautious here and in other countries.