Back somewhere in most traveller’s mind, is the question of possible illness, accidents or general malaise. Perhaps since travel journalists travel more often then the usual tourist, we become aware of cutting edge solutions sooner than most.
Not long ago on a trip to Kenya and Tanzania, a fellow writer, the hardy adventurous type, had one of the greatest assets a peripatetic person should carry in their luggage. It’s a ‘just in case’ kit. Travel Safe, Travel Smart is a mere 17cm by 19 cm zippered lightweight, waterproof case that can fit into the smallest space. This Adventure Medical Kit (comes with a concise pamphlet) for the savvy traveller, especially for those going to developing countries with a high incidence of tropical and infectious diseases, is a diminutive miracle of medical first aid and more. Insideare Nitrile gloves, packets of extra strength Tylenol, Motrin for muscle inflammation, Alamag Plus for upset stomach, Diamode for diarrhea. There are many more valuable treatments; for wounds there’s Povidone Iodine and Tincture of Benzoin, bandage material, Ceralyte Oral Electrolyte Mix which helps prevent dehydration, insect repellent, Non Mercury Thermometer, bandage scissors and for more serious situations sutures and a syringe for countries where safe sterile supplies may not be available or up to our standards. Adventure Medical Kits also have a packet size waterproof Dental Medic, a first aid kit for teeth which is a temporary filling mixture to “alleviate pain and protect the tooth from further damage”.
However, there are situations that even these wondrous packages couldn’t heal on one of my recent trips.
Here’s the scenario. On my way to the airport heading to Grenada, I became aware of flashing paparazzi lights in one of my eyes but there wasn’t a camera or a long lens anywhere. Trouble, I said to myself. A brainwave had me asking the Air Canada ticket taker, if they had any medical assistants. To my surprise I learned that Pearson and most airports have a clinic, another important notation for travellers.. This was located in Terminal 1 in the basement level. After a brief, helpful discussion with the nurse on call who left the decision to me, I took my chances and headed to the plane.
However, next day, very early and on a hot morning in Grand Anse Grenada, the flashing was more apparent. At Grenada Grand Beach Resort’s reception desk, two most helpful staff members gave me the name of a “great eye doctor”. Point two..most hotels have a list of doctors. Knowing that there is a medical school, St. George’s University, on this Windward island in the Caribbean, this alleviated some of my panic. A phone call at 8AM with my complaint was answered with ‘sure, can you be here (St. George’s, the capital city) in an hour?
Dr. M’s waiting room was full but Dr. M, once the only ophthalmologist on Grenada (now there are two), saw me immediately, gave me the mandatory examination, put drops into my eyes, and sent me back to wait for 20 minutes until the pupils were dilated.
Back into his office I was directed to look up, down, sideways, I noticed Dr.M would often lift his head towards a certain corner of the room. Did he have a tic, did he have eye trouble, I wondered. As it turned out , suspended from the ceiling was a small, silent TV featuring the important Grenada versus Australia cricket game. (Grenada lost). Grenadians are cricket crazy. It’s the most popular sport and every field has young to old, playing this ‘hockey of the south’. The doctor and I had a jolly good laugh, but most importantly, he told me that I didn’t have a detached retina.
Feeling much better, I decided to wander around the streets of St. George’s before heading back to the hotel,( an hilarious 20 minutes ride by local bus. A lot of entertainment for a mere $1).
Another view of the harbour
The small city is steamy. The rhythmic music blares out of every doorway, everyone seems to gyrate to the beat, they walk with a great rear end wiggle and life seems made up of music and sensuality. St. George’s main action is the daily open air market on Market Square, in the heart of the city’s commercial centre- a noisy but colourful hive of activity. The air was permeated with the delightful scent of spices, hence the name, The Isle of Spice. Under umbrellas, a protection from the hot sun (over 200 rainless days), were vendors, mainly women, selling the country’s indigenous produce particularly, mace, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, bay leaves, turmeric, saporte and nutmeg (their biggest export).
Although hiking, biking, snorkeling, diving and walking on the fine white sandy stretches of beach appeal to most of the island’s guests, there is something quite appealing also about strolling among the hustle and bustle, viewing arts and crafts and meeting the friendly locals.
Close to the market is the Roman Catholic Church which dates back to 1884. Nearby are the grand-looking Houses of Parliament.
The hilly city and the heat persuaded me to hail a taxi which took me to the Carenage, a horseshoe shaped, charming harbour where cruise ships dock and hundreds of travellers disembark to experience the sounds and smells. From there, up the hill is Fort George, built in 1705 with historic significance and where in 1983, the Prime Minister and a dozen more ministers were assassinated by the People’s Revolutionary Government. It’s now the headquarters of the Royal Grenada Police Force. The view from this high vantage point is easily one of the best with a clear sight of Grand Anse, St. George’s Lagoon, and the tile-roof architecture. Fort Frederick, a gratefully breezy haven, completed in 1791, also has a panoramic view.
To think I may have missed this all by opting not to take this trip would have prevented me from the sightseeing of this diverse island. But thanks to the comforting doctor, I was able to tour Grenada, take the 90 minute ferry to the small island of Carriacou where I lunched at Sand Island Café overlooking the Caribbean and swam at Sandy Beach, a five minute speed boat ride. I wouldn’t have seen the gracious five star Spice Island Hotel on Grand Anse and had the opportunity to indulge in a super facial at their Janissa’s Spa and would have missed out dining at the hotel’s fine cuisine where the menu included green banana soup and blackened snapper. How sad it would have been not to have been to a real ‘happening’- eating at Patrick’s Homecooked meals where 24 dishes of traditional food including Callaloo soup, Lambie in Creole Sauce, Tannia Cakes with shrimps, comes in a flurry, as does Patrick, a wannabe Mae West, ( on my most recent trip, I learned that the amusing and wonderful Patrick had gone to the cuisine in the sky) or lunching at the beach front grotto-like Aquarium or spending time contemplating life as I looked at waters that go from light blue to azure and turquoise. But with my well packed medical kits, the great medical attention, my comfort level was satisfied.