For years I have dreamed about being kidnapped by pirates and setting off for a new life on the high seas. The damsel in distress act is dangerously outdated. Now I’m the pirate, bitches. Drink up me hearties yoho!
The Cayman Islands has a brilliantly made up festival every year called Pirates Week. I don’t know of any history of pirate activity in the islands so it really is just a good excuse for a really big street party. Everyone gathers in Georgetown dressed up as pirates for an entire week. There are fireworks, live music, beads and lots and lots of drinking. I attended the launch party in my casual pirate look before slipping into my wench outfit which I proceeded to wear for 6 days solid. I was in my element! Being a pirate is my dream job. I can be drunk and threaten people and no one can judge me, it is part of the pirate job description. Tourists would stop me in the street and take pictures with me. Yet somehow, I still didn’t make it into the Cayman Compass. Eurgh … I wenched up for a whole week, what more do I have to do?
I’m sure most of the budget for Pirate’s Week goes into the fireworks. They were beautiful. They even had fireworks that came out of the water. That blows my mind. How? Just how? How do they light them under water?? Regardless, they were spectacular. I also discovered SoCa music or The Soul of Calypso. Apparently I watched some of the World’s most famous SoCa stars. Those songs are relentlessly catchy, feel good music, which are overwhelmingly about celebrating big bottoms. You can not listen to them without shaking your “roly poly”, something which comes pretty naturally to The Artist Formally Known As Little Cayman’s Beyonce.
Is it November yet? I wish it could be Pirate’s Week everyday.
Within an hour of arriving in Grand Cayman for the first time I knew I was going to live here.
Grand Cayman has some of the most spectacular beaches in the World, year round glorious weather, a wealth of glamorous bars and restaurants and the streets are paved with sushi. After the near deprivation of life on Little Cayman, everything about Grand Cayman is plentiful to me. It is big enough to give me the anonymity and wealth of experiences I crave, but small enough to have a local town feel. It is very safe. Yes, it is very expensive to live here, but I was lucky enough to land a job here I love. I don’t pay tax, I can take the sting of expensive food and drink. I love that there is always social events going on. It is my dream to land on the society pages of the Cayman Compass, that is when I will know I have truly made it. Life here is very comfortable. I hear people complain that it is not “The Real Caribbean”. I am totally fine with that! If I want “The Real Caribbean”, whatever that means, I will jump on a plane and go to Jamaica or Utila or Havana, because from here I can get to those places in about an hour.
Moving to a new place is hard. Even after more than ten years away from home, I still get terrified about making big moves. I was so ready to leave Little Cayman but that didn’t stop me crying like a baby before I left. Starting a new job, moving to a new place, starting a new routine is hard. Making new friends is difficult, even as an adult, and especially on an island where you don’t know anyone. I love the thrill of it though. Starting over and making a brand new life is exhilarating. A bet a lot of people, if they were honest, would love the chance to pack up and start their life all over again.
In sum, I love Grand Cayman.
Here are some photos of me loving life here.
Beautiful, idyllic Little Cayman.
Thank you for being the peaceful retreat I needed. Thank you for being my rehab. Thank you for coming into my life when I needed you most. Thank you for your beach, my sanctuary. Thank you for your water, for washing it all away. Thank you to your islanders who became temporary family. Thank you for your limited cocktail list. Thank you for the tan. Thank you to the iguanas for being my stray cat substitutes and occasional confidantes. Thank you for supporting my decisions. Thank you for the visiting pilots. Thank you for the career guidance. Thank you for the freedom.
Thank you for letting me know when it was time to leave.
Billy – “Go to hell!”
Winifred – “Oh! I’ve been there, thank you. I found it quite lovely.”
Grand Cayman’s number one land based tourist attraction has to be Hell, some black lime stone formations of the West side of the island. The name apparently came about because, this one time, someone, said the place looked like hell … and with that stroke of wordsmithery wisdom a new tourist hot spot was created. Slightly ironic that this Hell is located in the hyper religious Cayman Islands. To really appreciate the wonder of the limestone formations you need at least 60 seconds, they are not particularly spectacular. The real genius of hell lies in the fire red gift shop. Dare to walk in the door and you are greeted by the devil himself who has no end of hell-themed knick knacks and puns for his guests. I am pretty sure it was the same devil from the classic party scene from Hocus Pocus and I spent the whole trip in character as a besotted Sarah. The best bit about Hell (those are words I never thought I would say) is that you can send a postcard with a stamp from Hell Post Office.
I loved the touristy, kitsch of Hell. If this is what the real Hell is like, I better start being a bit naughtier!
The one thing all tourists have to do when they come to Grand Cayman is go to Stingray City!
I had a day to spare after my trip to Panama and with no cool locals to hang out with, I decided to disguise myself as a tourist and go on an excursion to Stingray City. Stingray City is a shallow sandbar where dozens of Stingrays live. I got on a boat with 50 other tourists and sailed out to North Sound. I hadn’t seen Grand Cayman by water before. An island like Grand can only really be appreciated from the water. It was a gorgeous, sunny, calm day. I spent the sail window shopping for multi million dollar mansions.
When we got to Stingray City there was a few other boats there, which I had expected. The more the merrier I say! Lots of tourists, means lots of money for Cayman. Obviously the stingrays congregate there because that is where they get fed. Each boat comes ready with a vat of fish for the stingrays. With all the visitors giving them squid all day long I am surprised they are not morbidly obese, dragging themselves around the bottom of the sea. When you get in the water you really are interacting with the stingrays. They swim around you, trying to get food, whipping you with your tail if you happen to be in between them and the food. Some of them are pretty massive. If you hold their food outside of the water, they will jump on top of you to get it. The stringrays really like that squid. There was one particularly docile stingray, let’s call her Betty, who seemed to be the pet of our tour guide. She seemed happy enough giving everyone a kiss and posing for pictures. I gave her a kiss (on the lips, no tongue) and let her get on my back, which didn’t feel altogether unpleasant. The stingrays seem happy enough. They are in the sea, roaming wild. There is nothing keeping them in that spot. If they want to swim off elsewhere they can do. Why would they though? Those stingrays have a complimentary all-you-can-eat buffet every day. That sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me!
After Stingray City, we had a chance to go on two snorkeling stops. I was pleasantly surprised by how impressive the reef was. The sea was calm and the visibility was perfect that day. I dived off the boat, swam a little bit away from the crowd and found myself face to face with a turtle! He was lazily bobbing around. I kept out of his way and he didn’t spot me following him around. I really love turtles and it is so good to see them in the wild. It means the conservation efforts are working. Turtles always seem so chilled out, although I’m not sure if I think that because I have watched Finding Nemo 20 times. There was lots of tropical little fishes playing in the second reef we visited. The only bummer of the day was my bust underwater camera. I must invest in a new one because I missed out on some great photos that day. A great excuse to go back!
I love Grand Cayman … Can you tell?