Festival of Chocolate in Grenada 2018 – Healthy Decadence!

Hot Chocolate
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Grenada Chocolate Fest: 11 – 19 May, 2018

Chocolate Museum Grenada

Pic of Chocolateria inside Chocolate Museum above. 

Pic of cocoa bean mill inside Chocolate Museum. 

You’ll find (left to right) friendly staff at The Chocolate Museum – Kendra, Maria, Rina and Kay.

Have a passion for everything chocolate? The Grenada Chocolate Fest is a delectable event that celebrates the island’s delicious organic and ethically produced cocoa and chocolate. It is truly something to behold and experience for yourself. People sing, do the “cocoa dance” through the streets and douse themselves in liquid chocolate to celebrate this integral part of the island’s heritage.

In Grenada, the chocolate artisans craft famous ethical “tree to bar” products. During the festival you can “take a journey through the island’s rich history and visit cocoa farms nestled in its lush Caribbean rainforest… dance the cocoa or be a cocoa farmer for a day. Jam by the turquoise sea at sunset, and run through a cocoa forest! And when you are ready to relax and unwind, indulge in some authentic chocolate-inspired cuisine and luxuriate in cocoa-infused island life!” (http://grenadachocolatefest.com)

What’s more, because the chocolate produce on the island is so pure, central to their local history and world famous, there is even a Chocolate Museum in St. George, the biggest town in Grenada. They display a brief history of the island in terms of cocoa produce here and you can have a shot or shake of chocolate or buy cocoa butter or chocolate lava cake, all things chocolate. They also focus on the health benefits of pure, organic chocolate here. Did you know how good it is for you? Here are some benefits they listed at the museum:

  • Protection from Disease-Causing Free Radicals.
  • Potential Cancer Prevention.
  • Improved Heart Health.
  • Good for Overall Cholesterol Profile.
  • Better Cognitive Function.
  • Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Aid.
  • Antioxidant-Rich Superfood.

Photo of downtown St. George, Grenada from coolestcarib.com

So! Have some chocolate right now. And remember, it needs to be dark chocolate, preferably 70% or more cacao and sorry, no sugar, in order for it to have these health benefits . Without sugar it truly becomes an acquired taste.  A suggestion is to have it with stevia or honey if you don’t like the bitter taste.

Best in chocolate to you and hope to see you in Grenada at the chocolate fest!

More pics taken this week  in St. George, Grenada click here or follow us on Instagram.com/coolestcarib

Discover Pig Beach, BAHAMAS – Where Pigs Rule (and Swim)

Photo of pigs in Bahamas
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You’re stuck in your office, surfing the web for just about any getaway to sunny shores and you come across this story about pigs living it up on their own island in the Bahamas. WTF!? – as in Modern Family’s Phil’s acronym – Why The Face? Well, stop making a face and start reading this. For if pigs can swim in the Bahamas, so can you!

Picture from Instagram.com/theswimmingpigs

You can even visit and swim with them, these porkers. There are about 20 pigs and piglets on Pig Island, also known as Major Cay, Big Major Cay or just Pig Beach. The island is uninhabited and located in an area that comprises more than 300 islands in the Bahamas, called Exuma. They are not the only animals there, there are some goats and stray cats to be seen too.

How did they get there and how do they survive, you ask? For one thing, in order for any living being to survive, they need water. Lucky for these porkies, there are three fresh water springs on the island. What about food then? Currently they are fed by locals and tourists – a big attraction in the Bahamas.

But how these hogs got to the island is somewhat of an urban legend. There are various theories and speculations, one being that the boars were brought to the island as part of a business venture to create a tourist attraction. Another, and the most “famous” one, is that sailors brought some sows to the island with the intention to eat them at a later stage. But they never returned. Then there is the story that the swine survived a shipwreck and swam to the island to save themselves and survived on food dumped from passing ships. A last theory is that the pigs escaped from a nearby islet – and decided to rule their own island, named after themselves.

If you want to stay near Big Major Cay where the hogs are cohabitants, according to Angie Away, “your best option is itty-bitty Staniel Cay, which offers a sizable marina, several small hotels (EMBRACE Resort is my favorite) and an airstrip. From there, you can rent a small boat or hire a local guide to whisk you over to Pig Beach. From Staniel Cay Yacht Club, it’s only about 10 minutes to the pigs.”

If you do decide to visit Pig Beach, be respectful, remember these are wild-ish animals you’ll encounter and that its their island, for goodness sake! Reminds me of Animal Farm – “where all animals are equal, some are just more equal than others…”

Pigs are very clever and cute but their bite can be very serious – when you try to take selfies they might think your camera is food, or even your face! (to quote an observation by Angie Away).

So, take care and be safe on Pig Beach – it will certainly be a very different getaway story to tell when you get back home.

Continue reading “Discover Pig Beach, BAHAMAS – Where Pigs Rule (and Swim)”

Best Pics of GUADELOUPE – First Week!

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I’m visiting Guadeloupe currently and loving the views! Guadeloupe, if you didn’t know, is a French territory island in the Caribbean. It is shaped like a butterfly on the map, surrounded by a few other islands under its government: Marie Galante, Les Saintes, Petite Terre and Désirades. The mainland is divided in two islands that are connected with a natural bridge: Grande Terre and Basse Terre.

So far we’ve explored Grande Terre from St Francois to the furthermost eastern point of the island to the north at Le Moule and west past St Anne and Le Gosier to Pointe-á-Pitre where the international airport is located.

Here is some proof of the beauty of this place. Enjoy!

2017 Holiday Season in the CARIBBEAN – a Tax Deductible Donation?

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by Lizpiano.

Steel pan versions of Christmas songs are playing again. Probably including my favorite Christmas song by the indelible Jimmy Buffett, ‘Christmas in the Caribbean’:

“It’s Christmas in the Caribbean, snow birds fill the air.
… send away for mistletoe.
It’s Christmas in the Caribbean, we’ve got everything but snow.”

No-one will be singing any songs with Maria in them or naming their newborns after grandma Irma this holiday season, of course. However, slowly but surely Caribbean people are picking up their lives and businesses, some trying their best to be ready for the holiday season.

And low and behold, some islands are back in a new way (like with more solar power, thanks to Elon Musk, see my blog: More Tesla Solar Powerpacks Arrived at Puerto Rico Airport link below) and open for business.

Photo of Labadee, Haiti, from moveabroadnow.com

The headline, ‘The Caribbean is now Open for Business’,  www.caribbeanisopen.com, is a quote from a campaign launched in October 2017 after the devastating effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria this year.

It is called the “Caribbean is Open”-campaign and aims to make tourists aware that 90% of islands in the Caribbean are unaffected by the hurricanes.  According to some Caribbean websites, there has been about a 26% decrease in business to the Caribbean because of a perspective that the whole Caribbean has been devastated. This is not true. The US Virgin Islands, St Martin, St Barth and Puerto Rico are the most developed and well-known ones affected. Smaller ones include British Virgin Islands, some of the Bahamas but not the most visited islands, Barbuda, Turks & Caicos, Dominica and Cuba that were affected by the hurricanes this year.

The fact that these islands were so hurricane-slapped should urge tourists to visit them in order to support their road to recovery.

But that also means other favorite islands are still ready for the picking this upcoming holiday season. Off the top of my head there are so many – in alphabetical order: ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao), Anegada, Antigua, Anguilla, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, St Eustatius, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia,  St Vincent & The Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago.

Since these islands are mostly dependent on tourism, this could be a very good idea and an altruistic-tourist-move – beneficial for everyone involved. After all, since it started snowing in the northern hemisphere again, what more do you want than a sandy beach and sunny shores, those are still on the islands. Hotels have electricity, water and food as they were more prepared for disaster than the general islander, so why not? For instance, 65% of hotels in Puerto Rico are now operational and so are many resorts on Turks & Caicos.

Why not view a visit to the affected islands as your own personal donation to their hurricane relief programs?

Here’s a thought for every tax-paying tourist – why not speak to your legislators and request that your away-time this year to the Caribbean, or if you’re from the US – St Thomas, St John, St Croix or Puerto Rico – can be made tax-deductible (as a donation)?

Just a thought. I am looking into doing that.

Hope to see you in the Caribbean this holiday season. Season’s greetings!

Continue reading “2017 Holiday Season in the CARIBBEAN – a Tax Deductible Donation?”

More Tesla Solar Powerpacks Arrived at PUERTO RICO

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Since our blog titled, “Elon Musk Willing to Power Puerto Rico” of 6 October, a few hundred Powerwall battery packs for solar power energy arrived in Puerto Rico.

According to *Frederic Lambert of Electrek.co, “The new shipment arrived not long after Musk spoke with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello last week to talk about ways for Tesla Energy to help rebuild the power grid destroyed by the two hurricanes that recently hit the Caribbean.”

That’s not all. Elon Musk is now putting extra effort into bringing power back to Puerto Rico AND other affected areas by unveiling his new Tesla Semi truck earlier than planned:

Tesla, the automaker, is changing the planned revealing date of its electric truck, the Tesla Semi, from October 26 to *November 16 (according to Electrek.co) as it focuses on Model 3 production and aiding “power-less” Puerto Rico.

Tesla Semi, Model 3 truck image from trucks.com

Currently, less than 20% of the island has power and some areas may experience months without electricity. That is why Tesla plans to first focus on helping hospitals and medical centers to get stable power.

Puerto Rico and Tesla seem to be committed to work together beyond short-term solutions and rebuild the power system to be more sustainable with solar power and energy storage. Continue reading “More Tesla Solar Powerpacks Arrived at PUERTO RICO”

ARUBA Without Plastic Bags since January 2017

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Photo by Liz Strauss at Casa Del Mar Resort, Eagle Beach, Aruba.

ARUBA. It’s been nearly a year since January 1, 2017 where all retailers and vendors in Aruba were no longer allowed to distribute nor sell carry-out plastic bags at supermarkets and retail shops.

This then allows tourists and locals alike to bring or buy a re-usable bag or use a carton box to put their groceries in.

Government or city inspectors can fine retailers 10.000 Aruban Guilders (which is about $5715) if they don’t abide by the law to ban plastic bags. This law was created and accepted on 30 June 2016. However, the government gave the community until the new year to adjust to the new rules.

So far this ban and its strategy have been important in a mind- and behavioral change toward increased corporate responsibility from retailers as well as locals and tourists.

You may ask how much of a difference does a plastic bag ban can make to the environment?

It’s estimated one can save 500 to 700 plastic bags from the ocean and landfills each year by bringing your own plastic bags when shopping, according to the Plastic Pollution Coalition. If you consider these facts: Plastic is a substance the earth cannot digest and 8 million tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year, we’d all better start refusing single-use plastic.

According to Juliet D. Carvalhal, special coordinator of the Aruban government’s Green Agenda project, “managing waste on islands, especially those heavily dependent on tourism, has been an ongoing challenge. But then again, being an island in itself also presents the community with added motivation to apply concepts of “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Respect” seeing there is limited or practically non-existent access to “Recycling” facilities.”

Reducing not only your use of plastic bags, but managing your trash can also have a big impact if it is carried out daily. Take for example founder of Trash is for Tossers website, Lauren Singer of Brooklyn, New York. Lauren has proved that she could live in one of the biggest cities in the world for 4 years without producing more than one mason jar of waste.

She suggests composting and separating trash effectively, investing in a re-usable water bottle and mason jars and making sure you pack enough bags when you go out shopping to reduce your day-to-day waste. Every little bit helps, especially if everyone does their part.

In the words of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, “let’s make plastic bags go extinct!”

Continue reading “ARUBA Without Plastic Bags since January 2017”

Post-Hurricane Aid: Solar Filter Can Turn Sea Water into Potable Water

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By Lizpiano

So much sea water but nothing to drink?

As part of our Post-Hurricanes Irma and Maria CoolestCarib.com series, Sustainable Solutions, we introduce a solar still with an open source design (see below article links about the design.)

It is called Eliodomestico and it is a solar-powered water filter, can be made from simple and easily accessible materials, and can purify 5 liters of (sea) water per day (according to India Times.)

Pic from gabrielediamanti.com

Created by Italian designer Gabriele Diamanti, this “solar still” delivers clean and pure drinking water by boiling water and separating it from other elements. Eliodomestico is made from materials like terracotta, anodized zinc, and recycled plastic, operates without filters or electricity, and requires minimal maintenance.

The open source design was named as one of 12 finalists in the Prix Émile Hermès 2011 competition.

There are actually a lot of new products like this, specifically geared towards aiding residents of developing – and now disaster-struck – areas with no clean drinking water. Monash University graduate, Jonathan Liow’s, Solarball is a glass ball that purifies water using the sun.

Diamanti’s solar powered water filter works, in short, like this:

  • Water is poured into the terracotta section of the filter in the morning.
  • Steam is formed as the day develops because the still heats up and later begins to boil the water.
  • The steam that was formed into the nozzle at the top condenses against the lid then drips down into the catch basin below.
  • Provided it was a warm enough day outside, voila! – in the evening there will be 5 liters of fresh drinking water available in the catch basin.

The Eliodomestico can work without fuel, electricity, filters, and needs no maintenance.

According to an article by Bridgette Meinhold of Inhabitat.com: “these devices can also be built anywhere from readily available materials – anyone who can throw a pot can handcraft the main elements necessary for the water filter… Eliodomestico could be made for $50 and produce 5 liters… The design is available as an open-source project for anyone who wants to make one and is licensed under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.”

Continue reading “Post-Hurricane Aid: Solar Filter Can Turn Sea Water into Potable Water”

Elon Musk Willing to Power Puerto Rico

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By Lizpiano

Picture of Elon Musk by Getty Images.

That is, if given the green light to go ahead. Elon Musk has helped many smaller islands, like Ta’u Island in Samoa, with his solar power devices and tweeted this yesterday:

“The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too. Such a decision would be in the hands of the PR govt, PUC, any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of PR.”
@elonmusk

Above is a video about the SolarCity created with Tesla’s Microgrid Solar Power in Samoa.

In response to this, Puerto Rico Governor Ricky Rossello showed interest, tweeting “Let’s talk” to Musk, saying “PR could be that flagship project.”

Musk has already done his part for Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria left the island’s power grid in tatters, so Tesla reportedly sent hundreds of Powerwalls — battery systems designed to store energy — along with employees to install them in an effort to restore power.

Powerwall batteries can be paired with solar panels to help restore the grid. According to Fortune.com “the Powerwall, which was first introduced in April 2015, is a battery designed for homes that store the energy generated by solar panels.”

Musk also donated $250,000 of his own money to the relief effort.

In the meantime, President Donald Trump said on Fox News in an interview with Geraldo Rivera, “the island’s debt will have to be wiped out.” Puerto Rico owes over $70 billion to creditors while the total storm cost is between $45 and 90 billion dollars.

Continue reading “Elon Musk Willing to Power Puerto Rico”

Caribbean Must Do Now: Dirty Energy to Clean Power

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NECKER ISLAND, BVI. According to British billionaire, Richard Branson, low-carbon renewable energy conveniences should substitute old fossil fuel-dependent forms when the Caribbean islands are being rebuilt now.

Photo from @richardbranson

Reuters stated he approached the British and US governments and is mustering help from financial institutions like the Inter-American Development Bank and other philanthropists to set up a fund to help Caribbean nations.

“As part of that fund we want to make sure that the Caribbean moves from dirty energy to clean energy,” he said.

It has generally been the norm in Caribbean islands to create power by diesel burning – that forms global warming carbon dioxide, which will increase the frequency of freak weather events.

“I’ve been involved in talking out about climate change for a number of years now… I never thought I was going to be in the front line in quite the way I was two weeks ago,” he said at an event on fuel efficiency.

Branson has been a longtime champion of clean energy. Head of the Virgin Group conglomerate, he co-founded the Carbon War Room in 2009 to accelerate the implementation of business plans that reduce carbon discharges.

In reference to the U.S. program that helped rebuild Western Europe after World War Two, Branson mentioned in his blog that the Caribbean needed a “Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan” to aid in restoring and in long-term economic renewal. Continue reading “Caribbean Must Do Now: Dirty Energy to Clean Power”

St. Maarten/St. Martin Getting Back on Track

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PHILLIPSBURG, St. Maarten. It has been 22 days since the island was mauled by Hurricane Irma. People in St. Maarten have been vowing to stand strong and build the island back up in no time. Well, today grocery stores and restaurants are re-opening on the island in the Dutch part.

Today we celebrate St. Maarten standing strong and forging ahead!

Photo courtesy of @teamsxm.

If you’ve been to Simpson Bay on the Dutch side, you couldn’t miss the Buccaneer Bar on Kim Sha Beach. They are open again with a limited menu. Other well-known places like Pineapple Pete’s and both Greenhouses on the island are serving cold drinks and hot food.

These recovery efforts have not been an easy process. Thanks to Dutch and French government aid, people are slowly starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel again.

Photo courtesy of @teamsxm.  French Air Force arriving with supplies at Maho Beach airstrip.

By Pocahontas.

Sax Car Rental Sint Maarten   B52 Kitesurfing School in Saint Martin SXM Caribbean