Petite Martinique (P.M), Grenada was probably the closest I have ever come to paradise. It is a small, secluded island, far from city life and can only be reached by boat. My hotel was right on the beach and everything was surrounded by nature. That of course meant insects of all kinds: centipedes, mosquitos and ants. Being the city girl that I am, I would keep an eye on these insects, the same way that people of the island watched me.
“Grenada is a tri-island state.” It consists of St. George’s, Carriacou, and of course P.M. The French and the British fought over control of the island during the 18th century until the British gained complete control in 1783 by the Treaty of Versailles. P.M is the smallest of the islands–only 486 acres–and was settled by Frenchmen Pierre in the early 1700s, after leaving his home in Martinique due to an ant infestation. Once there he brought slaves to the small island to plant cotton and sugarcane. After the slaves were freed, the whites moved to the northern part of the island while the newly freed slaves remained in the southern part of the island. The size of the island, eventually, led to the mingling of whites and blacks. Although the original form of income was agriculture, there are only small amounts of rain throughout the year. However, the inhabitants quickly adapted, began fishing, and saw that it was more profitable. Today, fishing is their main source of income.
Getting to P.M was no walk in the park. It was a trip from hell. A direct flight from New York to Grenada is five hours. However, my family and I did not take a direct flight. Instead we took a four-hour flight to Puerto Rico. Then after hours and hours of a layover, another flight for an hour and a half to St. George’s, Grenada. To get to P.M, it was an 8 a.m. two and a half hour boat ride, the next day. That had to be the worst boat ride of my life. It was like a never-ending roller coaster. I was sick the whole ride there. I could not wait to get off of that boat.
When I finally got off, I was in complete awe. My surroundings were beautiful–minus all the bugs of course. My hotel was right on the beach. Right outside my balcony, there was a tree full of little birds. Since I was still feeling sea sick, I sat outside and took it all in. This was the perfect getaway from city life. And I mean really far from city life. There was no air conditioning, hot water, Wi-Fi, or television. It felt completely remote.
The island was so secluded that it had an old-fashioned feeling to it. I noticed that I was being watched. It wasn’t the way a tourist is watched by the locals–there was more to it. My every move was watched because of my gender. From the moment I set foot on that island, all eyes were on me because I’m a girl. I didn’t realize it at first. I was busy taking in the beauty of the island; my hotel was right on the beach after all.
My uncle took my boyfriend and me on a walk around the island and to his house. I hiked up steep hills in ninety-degree weather. It felt like gravity was trying to push you back down. Being at the very top of that hill was breath-taking. At the top, I had a perfect view of the blue ocean, dotted with boats, the houses, and all of the trees.
When we got back to the hotel I said to my uncle, “Where are all the women?” He responded with indifference behind his Grenadian accent, “They’re all inside. They’re housewives. They don’t come out.” My aunt added on, “You only see them if you go visit their house.” I was completely shocked, but at that moment I understood all those weird looks I was getting from the men. According to my uncle, women were always indoors cooking or cleaning. I, of course, was doing the opposite.
I wasn’t held up indoors, I was outside enjoying my vacation and hanging out–at the only bar–with the guys. While at the bar so many people looked at my aunt, my mom, and me with judgmental eyes. They were saying, “What are you doing here? Why are you drinking with the men? You should be with other women” without really saying it. The women that I did see were clearly the matriarchs of the family, working to support themselves and their family. They were given strange looks by some of the men, as well. Those women, my aunt, my mom, and I were all under observation. Everywhere we went we were like bugs under a magnifying glass, our every moved watched and judged.
I observed a poisonous centipede-looking insect slowly crawling away. Who would have thought that going to what seemed like paradise in the 21st Century would be such an odd experience.
1. About Grenada. (n.d.). Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://www.gov.gd/about_grenada.html
2. A. Prime, personal communication, January 24, 2012.
3. J. Prime, personal communication, January 24, 2012.
4. Welcome to Petite Martinique. (n.d.). Welcome to Petite Martinique. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://www.petitemartinique.com/index.htm
About the Author,
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Ada-Gabriella Peralta has a weird obsession with “Adventure Time”. So much so that she named her dog Jake. She can be extremely indecisive, but is passionate about every decision she makes. She did, after all, spend a year in a forensic science program, even though she knew her brain could not grasp the concept of math. She later became an English major and soon realized her love of writing. She hopes to become a novelist as well as write for a magazine.