Ms Clara sells her wares day in day out at her fruit-stand near Grande Anse beach – behind the Spice Island Mall supermarket, right were the St Georges University bus stops to disgorge students of every possible ethnicity, who are here for their first years of med school/vet school, to do their shopping, right where the bus duly vacuums the students up again hours later their hands full of plastic bags* stuffed with goodies from home. The Spice Island supermarket stocks grape nuts and marshmallow whip, cheddar, brie and tacos and Branston pickle, potatoes imported from Idaho and mini-carrots packaged in the US as well as a lot of speciality products** Ms Clara’s wares are all from the island, grown by the locals, and therefore buying from her or a stand like hers is a must, the produce she sells includes beautiful avocados, eggplants, guava, passion-fruit, sugar or custard apple etc. depending on what the local farmers have to sell that day. Each day the farmers deliver fruit and veg to her stand, although some of it she brings down herself on her bus journey.Then she sits all day in the heat, calling out to passersby and students alike, chatting, telling stories, being her charming self, and selling the produce. Each day Ms Clara gets up at 4 am to travel down by bus from the North of the Island. The buses come down through St Georges to get to Grande Anse. Although Grenada is a minuscule little island (see here) , if you ran the Grenadian marathon (I don’t think there is one but that might be another tourist opportunity what with all the students on the island), you’d run the length of the island in one day, it is that small, but the roads are tough to navigate, people drive creatively and there are loads of potholes so the trips take longer. It’ll take you about 2 hours to get to the North of the Island unless you are a Grenadian driver of course then you may well be faster.
Ms Clara has been running the business for many years, she passed it on to her son, however, since he emigrated, like so many other Grenadians, to work in the US she runs it herself again. She is a beautiful woman, with a beautiful smile and a certain wisdom that I encountered a lot in Grenada. I suspect that living on small island and being at the mercy of the natural world in a more real way then we are back where I am from impacts people’s approach to life. In a chat with Clara about her life she told me she had been in a terrible accident in a bus earlier in the year (a friend who lives on the Island aptly describes the local minibus experience as a white knuckle ride). Ms Clara shows me her right arm which is heavily scarred as is her lovely face, although she has healed really well. Ms Clara says, you know, I was in hospital a number of months, and I could have died, but I didn’t and then she says something that touched me and was very beautiful, a thought and message that is fitting for today, the first day of advent “you know as long as you have life and you are alive, nothing else really matters, there are good things and there are bad things but without life there is nothing”
* The plastic bags are provided in profusion and I have it on good authority that most of the trash here goes straight to a large island landfill so I started using my backpack to try to reduce the waste I was adding.
** The enormous selection of vaginal douche products, with names like oriental sunset, romantic evening, and early morning glory (I kid you not, it’s very bizarre the names I mean, I won’t get into the other topic) I suspect that I can state that the origin of most of the students hail from the USA, as this is a peculiar US fixation ( I also happen to know that most students are from the US.).