Grenada Stories and Tips

"I Was a Soldier in the Revolutionary Army"

View From the Fort Photo, Grenada, Caribbean

Many of the interesting places in Grenada are, unfortunately, not on a public bus route. That leaves you with a couple of choices when you want to go exploring: you can rent a car, or you can go on a tour.

I don’t recommend renting a car in Grenada unless you are a true glutton for punishment. Roads are narrow, poorly marked, and often on a steep grade. Sidewalks are essentially non-existent, so you are sharing the road with pedestrians - and the occasional herd of cattle. If you do rent a car, make sure your personal relationship can handle it; I saw more than one couple erupt in bitter recriminations over their rental car.

I’ve never been a big fan of group tours. I can’t quite handle the "Everybody on the bus. OK. Everybody off the bus. OK. Here is where to take pictures. OK. Everybody back on the bus." It’s just not my style.

Enter Winfield Gabriel, better known as Pirate. Pirate was recommended to me by his wife, a sweet woman who worked at the hotel where I stayed. Pirate is a taxi driver who also runs Pirate Tours.

I am particularly interested in military history, and when I made my arrangements with Pirate, I told him I wanted to visit the forts on the island, and maybe see some waterfalls and a nutmeg processing plant.

He picked me up the next morning, as arranged. Once I was safely seatbelted into the front seat, I asked him how old he was. Pirate gave me an odd look, and I hastened to explain. "I am interested in the US invasion of Grenada in 1983," I explained. "I just wanted to know if you are old enough to remember it."

Pirate looked at me and said simply, "I was a soldier in the Revolutionary Army."

Pirate took me to three different forts on the island. He showed me where Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and some of his supporters were lined up against a wall and shot in 1983, and gave me a first hand perspective on the US invasion, which was supposed to be about protecting US medical students at St. George’s University.

"You know," he said, "the US students could have left at any time. They weren’t in any danger." Talk about living history!

Pirate also took me to some lovely gardens, a fantastic waterfall, and several spice farms. He is polite, conscientious, and seems to know everyone on the island. And, unlike some, he is a fairly conservative driver. You can either design your own tour, or have Pirate design one for you.

You can contact Pirate by e-mail at wgabriel@caribsurf.com. Once in Grenada, you can call him on his cell phone at 444-4984.

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