After four long years I’m finally heading out to the Grenada Chocolate Festival, on the Caribbean island of Grenada (not the southern Spanish town of Granada – spelled and pronounced differently). My plane stops in Barbados for a few hours (it’s the Virgin Atlantic one and about £150 cheaper than the direct route or the one that stops in St Lucia to refuel), giving me just enough time to make a beeline for Oustins – a touristy foodie strip en route to Bridgetown frequented by burnt English people and pissed Aussies. As it turns out I’ve arrived for Friday Night Fish Fry, so it only seems right I settle for a grilled Mahimahi with rice n beans and fresh plantain, dressed with extra hot pepper and cocoa nib sauce and a rum punch to wash it down.
A little prop plane awaited my return to the airport, a drastic transformation from the jumbo I came over on, and in less than one hours I touched down in Grenada.
After a delicious sleep in what can only be described as the Magical True Blue Bay Resort where the chocolate festival is held, I was still up at the crack of dawn. Like a little kid at Christmas I just couldn’t wait to get stuck in with everything the Grenada Chocolate Festival has to offer! The first day was a heady mix of mindfulness, healthiness and intense jungle exercise as we began the day with a yoga and mindful eating session conducted by the beautiful and wise Malaika. Yes, you really can focus your mind and set your intentions during a mindful eating session with chocolate ‘ I WILL NOT eat ALL the chocolate, right now…I will *try* to save some for two minutes time’. Not only that but we also learnt the inner power of our toes, by doing some ‘toe workouts’ – yes, toe work outs really are a thing, and my god are they difficult, the chocolate was definitely needed to help us focus our minds and strengthen our toes!
After yoga, which was followed by a chocolate breakfast spread put on by the great catering team at True Blue Bay Resort, then followed the Healthy Chocolate Product making workshop – introduced by the very knowledgeable and chic Karine Choco, or Miss Choco of Montreal, Canada. Once we had all smothered ourselves in chocolate facemask (oh wait, was that just me), learnt the art of whipping the perfect coconut cocoa butter courtesy of the beautiful and inspiring Sheba who runs the blog Grenada Soul Adventurer and created the body scrub to end all body scrubs with the elegant Zoe Smith of Maida Cosmetics, we headed out (for those who were brave enough) on our first ever Hash.
Now I’m sure many of you will be familiar with what a ‘Hash’ is, I however, was not (despite the fact it apparently originated in England with the military, so I probably should have known about it). Organised by the Grenada Hash Harriers, on arrival at the start point they really were very insistent that we sign our names on this form, when asked why there were two boxes to tick, I was told ‘at the end of the race we gotta check all the names to make sure you all got back, or we need to go find you.’ Right, got it, so we’re going for a run through the woods, in the rain, along a route marked by bits of shredded paper, and sometimes the route will result in a dead end…what if we get lost and can’t find more of the paper?
Well, I found that out the hard way! But it was great, you could choose either a walking route or running route and both took you through open fields, dense undergrowth, giving way to beautiful views of lush green mountain tops shrouded in mist, wild cacao seedlings growing under the rainforest canopy, bamboo forrest and creepers galore. I got distracted by the little cacao seedlings and soon wandered off course, after what felt like an hour (but was probably only 20 minutes) of seeing no humans or little bits of paper I decided I was lost and began hunting out the best looking mango tree for a snack in case I needed to bed down for the night. Luckily before I plucked the golden fruit I heard a low ‘ON ON’ which means 1. there is someone near by and 2. that they have found some paper – and I’m not lost after all. Following the noise out of the undergrowth I came across the most stunning view! Back on track and after shimmying down a rope into a little stream, I came across Eyore who was well up for a nose rub!
Not too long after, and just before the heavens opened, I made it to the finish line – in time to join in with everyone else revelling in the pissing (warm) Caribbean downpour whilst tucking into some Oil Down – a Grenadian traditional dish of basically everything starchy and meaty that tastes soooo good with heaps of herbs and spices thrown in, and Tanya Logg – an amazing local drink that’s kind of a cross between Slippery Elm Food and pulverised oats – again with lots of fragrant spices! Then it was time to take refuge in the Jouvey / Diamond chocolate shop when the heavens really really opened – a perfect time to stock up on chocolatey essentials!