What’s the first thing you think of when you think of the Grenada?
Hopefully it’s gracious people, nice beaches, the smell of spices, and an authentic Caribbean vibe. It’s extreme southern Caribbean location keeps it from the main cruise ship tourism circuit, because of that, the island nation is rich in other commodities other than jewelry stories, t-shirt shops and other cruise ship catering ventures.
It’s simple and special.
This story isn’t about the natural beauty of Grenada though, it’s about me and a near misunderstanding that thankfully didn’t have me in a jail cell.
I had flown into Grenada to take a trip of the Grenadine islands on the Diamant, a beautiful sailboat in the Island Windjammers fleet.
During that trip we visited the islands of Grenada, Carriacou, Union Island, Bequia, the Tabago Cays, and Mayreau. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in the Caribbean and I think about it often.
One of the reasons I think back on the trip is because I see little parts of it everyday. I collect and display sand from my travels and am reminded of these island everyday when I see the sand. During that trip I had small amounts of sand from five different beaches throughout the Grenadines and Grenada.
I usually put the sand in an empty water bottle, write the name of the beach on it, and pack it away in my luggage. No harm, no foul. At least that’s what I thought.
Our amazing adventure on the Diamant ended after a week and I found myself sitting in Grenada’s Maurice Bishop International Airport waiting for my flight back to Miami.
That’s when a voice came over the intercom asking for Ryan blah blah blah to please come up to the ticket booth. It almost didn’t register at first. I heard Ryan but the last name was a mess. My last name is 12 letters long and most of them are vowels, so it gets murdered all the time. But something told me they were looking for me.
I already had checked my luggage and had my ticket, so I wasn’t completely sure what the problem was. I went up to the booth and told them I was Ryan.
“Sir, please come with us.”
This can’t be all good.
They took me out onto the tarmac, around a couple corners and into back workings of the airport. Comfortable with the situation it was not. This is pretty much a 3rd world country and they are marching me back into the private areas of the airport.
I could feel my bald head begin to sweat.
They lead me into a building with a large machine and several armed military or police type personnel. I knew I didn’t do anything wrong, but obviously I was nervous to what all the hub-bub was about.
“Sir, is this your bag?”
I said, “Yes.”
At that point, my mind was racing, trying to fill in the gaps. Ahhhh, the sand. They probably think the five water bottles full of sand are cocaine or some other illegal substance.
They open my bag in front of me and take out the water bottles. I explain to them that they are sand from the Grenadines and that I’m a travel writer that collects sand from lots of destinations.
The officers look over each bottle, open them, smell them, shake them, and finally put them back in my bag.
I explain that it’s just sand and that I would really like to take them home to add to my collection. They determine that I wasn’t a drug smuggling thug, help me repack my bag, and wish me well on my travels home.
They lead me back to the main terminal where I sit down and analyze the last 15 minutes. I was a bit nervous and on edge, but in the end everything was okay. I didn’t do anything wrong, they just had to look through by bag at something suspicious and their way of doing that wasn’t as formal as something you might expect in the US.
I remember sitting in the terminal after the fact thinking, “Man, that was crazy. They thought I was smuggling drugs, but really I’m just a sand collecting nerd. This is going to make a great story!?
Isn’t life all about creating news stories and telling friends about them later? What’s a story you’d like to tell?