We arrived in Grenada, feeling that blast of hot air as you step off the plane and trundle down to the tarmac, the sweet smell of the tropics. This is Point Salines, soon to be Maurice Bishop International and a poignant start to our trip. ‘So that’s the overly-long runway,’ one of the boys says. Yes, this is the infamous airport, the Soviet satellite, the military base with a runway too long to accommodate mere tourist planes - the airport that helped justify an American invasion. Dan cheekily gets some shots as we walk down the steps, but it’s okay, this isn’t Gatwick. No one pounces on us apart from a smiling lady from the tourist board who is here to whisk us away through customs. Mental note: must always remember to feign filmmaking status to avoid long queues at airports.
We spend the late afternoon doing a little political site-seeing, grabbing the bus into town and taking a hike up to Fort George. Here the Revolution unravelled in dramatic fashion when crowds of people stormed the fort and military headquarters, after freeing their leader from house arrest. Here too they saw him gunned down, that is if they weren’t running to save themselves or taking their chances by clambering over the cliff face, some dropping to their deaths by the sea.
So goes the story, and this is what we’re here to unravel. What went so terribly wrong that made friends turn against friends and divided families down the middle. So I’m thinking about this as we’re exploring the fort and the sun’s golden glows are reflecting off every building in the distance. Such a beautiful place, yet the fort is almost medieval, broken and bruised. I wonder if it’s Hurricane Ivan, or Regan’s bombs that are more to blame for its state of decay. A group of kids are playing basketball where Maurice and his supporters were lined up and shot. Occasionally the ball bounces off the plaque that lists the names of the dead.
Market Square and I’m doing my tour guide thing to get the guys acquainted. Vendors are closing down for the day but still eager to make a sale from us fresh-off-the-boat ‘tourists’. A radio is blaring amidst the hustle and bustle, but hang on, I know this, I’ve heard it before. A voice booms and a crowd cheers. He’s talking about the airport, making fun of the ‘pretense’ that it is a development for tourism. The voice is Maurice Bishop’s and it turns out his memory is alive and well for George, the bar owner who is playing his speeches loud and proud throughout the whole of this month. It’s 30 years next week since the revolution began yet for some, like George, the memories are as fresh as yesterday.