Central America Travel News

Inhale the scents of the spice isle

Sweet and alluring - that is the very air of Grenada, a come-hither fragrance set gently across the sleepy tropical isle. Grenada seems a perfect honeymoon destination because of its pristine beaches, but its the myriad of aromatics harvested on the island that make it worth the exploration. Travelers can follow their nose, but a private tour of Grenada will take a more direct path to the sites where cinnamon, cocoa, vanilla and nutmeg abound. 

Nutmeg mania
Grenada is known as the Spice Isle, and of its many spices, nutmeg had long been its top crop. The devastating effects of Hurricane Ivan changed all of this when it damaged most of the island and uprooted huge swaths nutmeg trees, making Grenada unable to hold onto its title as world's largest producer of nutmeg. 

Despite this blow to its nutmeg production, tourists can learn about the sweet spice at the Gouyave Nutmeg Processing Station. The hurricane landed a huge blow to its yearly 3 million-pound production, but the plant is now back in full swing as it reaches pre-hurricane levels.  

At the three-story plant are demonstrations of nutmeg's uses as well as a constant show of workers picking, sorting and packing the product for global shipment. 

Sensual estates
At the Belmont Estate, one of Grenada's top visiting destinations and informal spice king of the isle, nutmeg's sweet and soft scent was once the prevailing aroma. The Belmont Estate, however, has learned to expand its market.

In addition to the cinnamon, pimento, cloves, bay leaves, turmeric, ginger and mace produced on grounds, travelers can indulge in the scent of the island's next biggest crop: cocoa. Belmont has formed a relationship with the Grenada Chocolate Company, providing organic cocoa for chocolate bars. Visitors can sample the source, including a take on local hot chocolate, which is a fermentation of cocoa beans along with nutmegs, cloves and other scents. 

The Dougladston Spice Estate might not be the finest in agri-tourism as the Belmont State exclaims, but it is worth the trip. Here the drying process takes on a romantic and rugged charm, as spices, from cinnamon to pimento, are laid on long drying racks in the midday sun. Along with buying a small bag of spices, travelers can also ask workers for an explanation of the process. 

Rum diary
Anyone unfamiliar with the many uses of sugar cane should become familiar with at least one at the River Antoine Rum Distillery. While mainly a museum, the distillery still produces via the old-fashioned methods a particularly strong liquor that can only be found in Grenada. 

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