It’s 8 uphill miles from Grenada’s Port Louis Marina to the thick green hills of Windsor Forest. The winding route takes 20 minutes by car or 90 minutes by orange jelly shoes. Here, on the edge of a jungle trail ripe with nutmeg, tropical fruit and natural remedies, waits the man known islandwide for his footwear and the unfathomable distances he’s covered in it. We’re going for a walk with Telfor Bedeau.
We won’t go far. I don’t do the long walks anymore — maybe 15 miles a day. It used to be 30 miles a day or more. I walk because I enjoy it, and it just happens to be healthy. I sailed on schooners when I was in my 20s. Whenever we had time off the ship, I’d hike up mountains for the views of the Caribbean. So this all began out of curiosity. After a while, people started to recognize me as “the hiker.” You think I have a French accent? Most towns around here have French names, like me. But I’m not French. I don’t even speak French. On my birthdays I kayak around the island. [It’s 54 miles.] I rowed around it on my 50th and 60th birthdays in boats I built. Actually, I row or paddle more than I hike. It’s just that people see me and recognize me when I’m walking. Out on the water, I’m a dot in the distance. The sea cures everything. I don’t take pills, and I don’t use bush medicines. Some people believe in them, and we can find them on these trails if you want. But me? I eat a coconut every day. I drink water. If I’m feeling sick, I go for a swim and sniff seawater up my nose. All better. Next time you’re on Grenada, let me know. We can meet for another walk.