Stop and Smell the Fermenting Cocoa Beans: Mid-trip Thoughts on Grenada

smell the cocoa

Ian Pshea-Smith

2nd Year, MPH Epidemiology Candidate

Working in different contexts can be draining. We often lose our support systems, the little everyday pleasures we’re accustomed to, and sometimes our coping mechanisms. Without these, we can be prone to stress and may forget to enjoy the experience and the new environment. For me, I think it has been most important to sit and be present throughout the experience - rather than just driving towards a singular goal.

Oftentimes, the culture of the US (especially in academia) drives us to work, work, work and work some more. We have a set of goals (graduation, a new career, a stellar CV) and will do whatever it takes to accomplish them. When the culture supports this, it can be incredibly difficult to enjoy the process. It is incredibly cliche to focus on “enjoying the journey”; however, we don’t want to look back, and all we can remember is the diploma, the deliverables or the blurb on our CV.

In Grenada, the culture is different (although globalization is a thing and social media has sunk its teeth in). There is, of course, a drive to work, as capitalism plagues even the most idyllic circumstances. However, I want to remember the wild spiderwort vines, the fantastic spices, and our amazing collaborators. While I also want our end products to be lovely and beneficial, the whole experience needs to be integrated - enjoy the island's beauty, but get the task done.

Within Grenada, we have been extremely busy - between organizing meals, getting to and from field sites, crafting deliverables and engaging all the necessary stakeholders, there is no end to the work. However, we have also had some amazing opportunities to pause and enjoy the island. Some went snorkelling and vibed at the beach; others went out for drinks and tried new foods. I have been waking up early, sitting alone and enjoying the warm island air - sitting and smelling the sea, fending off birds that want my bowl of fruit, but generally just sitting and enjoying our time in Grenada. We are here to work, but if we don’t stop and smell the fermenting cocoa beans, have we really gotten to know Grenada?