Learning to be Alone in Grenada

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After coming to Grenada, finding myself single, and nursing myself through Dengue Fever, I lost a bit of my mojo. My extroverted ways were replaced with an overwhelming desire to do nothing but read books and “play” on my computer – writing, watching tv shows, and exploring social relationships from behind the safety net of an internet connection. Perhaps I’m simply learning to be alone.

This post was originally published in 2011. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.

Scared of the World Beyond my Door

The world outside my little secluded beach hut seemed very intimidating. “Just be careful; once Grenadian men get news that you’re single, they’ll be very – VERY – persistent,” was the first piece of advice I received from a neighbour my age when I told her my initial plans to be here with a partner had changed.

And she wasn’t the only one to give me a similar lecture. A few females were quick to warn me of friendly men – even if their initial intentions appear platonic.

And in my low physical and emotional state, I was tired. The last thing I wanted was to be constantly on-guard against overly-friendly and persistent men (who often carry machetes I might add) while trying to rest and recoup from my adventures and mis-adventures of late.

All in all, learning to be alone just seemed easier, so I could hide away in my beach hut for three months.

Being The Professional Hobo

But this overwhelming desire to cocoon wasn’t a guilt-free pleasure. I am, after all, The Professional Hobo. Is The Professional Hobo allowed to do nothing? Would it not be almost irresponsible or culturally offensive to stay for three months on a tiny Caribbean island nation without venturing more than 10kms from my front door? As much as my seven-day-a-week life of working on the road can occasionally wear me down, inner voices remind me I’m living the dreams of many, and I’d better not take it for granted.

Panic

But then, just before I’d go out with the dog, or even go out to the grocery store, I’d be struck with a wave of panic. I didn’t want to run into anybody, or face the inevitable stares I got as the “token white girl” in the area, or fend off the sometimes-humourous (but exhausting nonetheless) advances of wannabe suitors. I didn’t want to take pictures and further set myself apart as an outsider. I didn’t want to worry about personal security.

I just wanted to stay in my safe little hut and read my book.

The Day that Changed Things

I woke up one morning, deciding to release myself of expectations – expectations of my own, or perceived expectations of others.

After running the morning errands I was drenched with sweat. Grenadian folklore claims there’s no better cure for what ails than “wettin’ your skin” in the ocean, and I hadn’t been swimming since my episode with Dengue Fever.

So I scooped up the dog and went for a walk through the mangroves and the woods over to the next bay, where there are reputedly some emerald pools ideal for swimming.

The dog knows this walk well, so I didn’t need a leash – just my key, bathing suit, and sarong.

Walking Alone

Even this walk around to the next cove incited fear. This is a really remote area. What if I run into somebody intending to cause me harm? What if I slip and fall? What if something happens while swimming in the ocean? It would take ages for anybody to realize I’m missing and then to come and find me.

Even as I forged ahead, this inner chatter constantly reminded me of the one thing I was painfully aware of: that I am alone.

But I kept going. Being alone is no reason to stop living. This is a safe island, and I have a loving protective dog with me. There’s nothing to fear.

the next beach in Grenada, where I'm learning to be alone

Reaching the next beach was my first reward. The white-sand crescent beach was beautiful, and completely isolated. I saw the silhouettes of two people in the distance fishing off the next point; far enough away that I didn’t worry about having to interact, yet close enough that I felt protected in case I needed help. I stripped off my sarong and sat in the clear shallows of the calm ocean bay, enjoying the perfect water temperature and keeping an eye on the dog who was happily sniffing everything in sight on the beach.

fishermen on the point


Enjoying Paradise Alone

Without anybody around as a gauge for the passage of time, I wasn’t sure how long I could (or should?) stay in the water. It seemed almost over-indulgent to just sit in the ocean on my own for too long. So after some time (enough time, however long that was), I emerged from the water and kept walking down the beach.

Turning off the beach I headed up an old road towards the next point. Finally reaching the point was glorious; I stood on an impossibly green grassy knoll atop a dramatic point jutting into the sea. On one side was the calm bay in which I just swam, and the other side was a turbulent ocean leading into a bay full of sailboats. Ominous storm clouds hovered above the bay as the wind picked up, and I could see heavy rain coming over the hills.

the grassy point

Similar to my night in Prague I didn’t have my camera (these pictures were taken on a subsequent day), so this dramatic experience was purely and unabashedly mine to absorb as much as I could. I looked around in awe, taking in the the dramatic scenery.

view from the point

“Looks like we’re getting wet,” I said to the dog. But it was more of an observation than a complaint; I felt no need to find shelter or hurry back since I was still wet from my swim, and I had no hope of making it back in time anyway.

So I turned from the point and ambled back towards “home”. Just as the rain started to fall lightly, I saw two men with fishing poles coming towards me. My stomach dropped. I didn’t want the dog to cause a stir (as he tends to around people with fishing poles, and I had no leash with me), and even more so I didn’t want to endure their leering stares and an awkward conversation – or worse – in this very remote place.

But my fears were unwarranted. The dog behaved, and all I got from my passers-by was a friendly smile and “Good afternoon” as we kept to our respective trajectories. In fact, I noticed the same cordial head-duck of shyness coming from them that I felt myself.

In that moment, that one fleeting moment as we were all about to be pummelled with rain, we shared something in common; a love of being out and about on this beautiful island – rain or shine. Nothing more, nothing less.

Rain, Glorious Rain

As I continued to walk, the inevitable rain came down. Warm, thick droplets splashed on my face, my hair, and eventually fell harder and harder until every part of me was drenched.

I did nothing to quicken my pace, or to find cover, and was simply thankful for not having a camera. Instead, I maintained the same languid pace while I enjoyed the impromptu warm shower, with nowhere in particular to be. Even the dog didn’t seem to mind the rain, as we continued along the abandoned road and listened to the ocean on each side.

As I retraced my steps along the beach and into the rainforest back towards my cove, the fresh green forest cradled me as the rain made comforting sounds falling onto the thick leaves and foliage.

By this point I was giggling and singing and splashing in the puddles. I had watched many passing storms come through in days and weeks prior as I sat in the dry comfort of my hut, and not once had it occurred to me to go out and experience the rain. But here I was, having the time of my life, soaked to the bone, skipping on the beach and through the woods, dancing and singing without a care…like nobody was watching.

And in fact, nobody was watching. I was completely alone.

And that is what made it so special.

Editor’s Note: This was written about a month ago, shortly after recovering from the ill effects of a nasty breakup and Dengue Fever. I’m happy to report that my “mojo” is back (!), and I’ve really enjoyed exploring Grenada for both its natural wonders as well as its social scene. Going forward you will enjoy a series of posts and videos depicting life in Grenada – a place that is quickly becoming one of my favourites in the world.

And although there’s a degree of being “on-guard” against the advances of men in any foreign country (especially as a solo female), I’ve also discovered that 99% of Grenadians are incredibly friendly, and you can have a conversation with just about anybody you pass by.

Yet one of the beautiful things I also love about Grenada is that it is a quiet island, and I’m living on a quiet little corner of it. Celebrating my own time, and rejoicing in the freedom and introspection of being alone has been truly wonderful. I believe surviving our dark moments helps us to appreciate life to its fullest. It seems I am truly leaning to be alone….and love it. 

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28 thoughts on “Learning to be Alone in Grenada”

  1. Great writeup. You probably already know this but don’t believe everyone’s advice about the horror stories. I’m glad you got out and still continuing to explore the Island.

    Shawn

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  2. @Erin – Thanks!

    @Shawn – Isn’t that always the rule? Ignore the blanket warnings, proceed with caution, and figure it out for yourself! 🙂

    @Cybiont – You can’t have one without the other!

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  3. Super post. Learning to be alone isn’t easy, but very rewarding once you have mastered the art! Wishing you lots of adventures in the future, whether solo or not.

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  4. As is so often the case, you brought me right along with you Nora. Not only with the gorgeous pictures, but with the images you described in the post. Thank You! I’m getting along in my own journey and although i haven’t yet “experienced” the culture shock of being “alone” – I know it is just right around the corner and it haunts me just a little! This makes me feel better. Kudos and Gratefullness!
    L

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  5. I related to this post a lot. While normally a fearless person, or at least someone who normally doesn’t tolerate fear and ignores it, I do go through periods of anxiety sometimes when I travel. The only remedy for me is forcing myself out the door…. and then I realize there is nothing to be afraid of 🙂 Glad you’re getting out there and enjoying the island!

    PS – Having spent a lot of time in Trinidad (going back for the holidays) I can say that Caribbean men definitely have a reputation for being flirtatious 😉

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  6. Bravo…well done all around…and also you can paint a landscape with your words….BTW, I thought you and your significant other had separated long ago…in Australia…am I confused or what?…I’m glad you are recovered from your Dengue fever and that you finally got to dip your feet in the water…keep safe and well…cheers

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  7. @Lisa – Try not to let the anticipated future haunt you too much….taking each day as it comes has been my best remedy, and the best way to appreciate all of life’s little gifts!

    @Jasmine – You’ve written very poignantly about the freedoms of being on your own (especially in the aftermath of a breakup), but yes – as amazing as those freedoms can be, it takes that first step, that push out the door, to experience it.

    @Baron’s – You’re right. I separated from my partner of 4 years in 2010 in Australia….the most recent breakup with with my “Swedish Squeeze” with whom I was together earlier this year.

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  8. What a wonderful story, it speaks to the heart – Nora. I have enjoyed this morning of catching up with your stories. You have endured a lot recently, and your strength shows.

    I used to travel solo quite a bit before meeting Chris, and now we travel non-stop together. I recently had the experience of an extended solo road trip. I was afraid at first, but by the end I had embraced it. It was good for my soul, and for independence within our partnership.

    Grok the islands… I am missing them greatly!

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  9. @Andrew – Pleasure. Thanks for reading – that’s a very important ingredient!

    @Kate – 😉

    @Cherie – I think experiencing both solo travel as well as partner travel is terrific.
    For myself, I’ve traveled solo before, but never really been alone. A lot of volunteer gigs entail being around (and sometimes living communally with) volunteers, locals, home owners, etc.
    That’s what has made this time in Grenada extra special and unique, because as a house-sitter, I have space (and time) to myself. It’s lovely!

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  10. So glad you got your mojo back! I know I’ve fallen into the same trap when traveling solo and even at home sometimes too. There is definitely a tough balance when traveling solo as a female between knowing when to take a chance and holding back so that you don’t get yourself into too much trouble. Lucky for you it sounds like you have a pup pup to act as your guardian! Can’t wait to hear more about your adventures in Grenada. Would love to hear more about the cost of living there. Enjoy yourself!

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  11. @Shani – I’m not sure the pup would do much more than lick an enemy to death, but he does have an intimidating bark.
    More Grenada adventures….coming up!
    And yes – in early 2012 I’ll be doing a post about my cost of living/travel in 2011…all in. So stay tuned! My own cost of living here has been incredibly cheap (using a few tricks of the trade, of course)!

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  12. Great story!! And many thanks for not sharing the name of your secluded beach. Until now we thought it was ‘our’ secluded beach 😉

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  13. Dont forget about the good times we had in SXM. I’m sure u will have many good thing to say about my special place. have a safe journey and may the angles keep an eye on you! you are unique and very special!

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  14. Thanks, DJ Nico…..likewise….was a pleasure to meet you, and who knows when and where our paths will cross again! Big sea….small world….

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  15. Mesmerizing. Thank you for your blog. I am about to embark on the venture of being a nomad and I am terrified, yet I literally tingle for top to bottom with anticipation.

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  16. @Crystal – Enjoy the sensation! Big changes are to be revered; I enjoy the butterflies of anticipation I get when I’m about to do something big.
    Where to first?

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  17. My 16yo son and I will make our first trip through Mexico, Central America and then through South America ending, we think, in Argentina. From there he will come back to the US to finish school and I hope to move forward possibly to Australia. We are very excited!

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  18. We plan on three months to get there. My son will be coming home for school but I am hoping to continue on.

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  19. Great to know theres someone out there that has similar thoughts…. how do you go about housesitting in grenada, i would love the experience

    Reply

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