Hello again from the land of traffic, line-ups and retail!
Can you imagine going back in time and telling someone from two hundred years ago that we can travel three thousand miles across land and sea in twenty four hours? They’d think you were mad, probably burn you as a witch for the mere suggestion. Yet that is precisely what the Prez and I did this week.
Last Saturday our wagon headed south to Seattle and we boarded a plane bound for Miami; final destination Little Cayman Island and an interview for the position of General Managers of Little Cayman Beach Resort. It would be twenty-six long hours (including driving and waiting times) from point to point during which time we would have the opportunity to consume in-edible airport food, show our passport two thousand and forty-seven times, and lament that children are not crated and put in the cargo hold of the plane like pets.
I am a brat magnet. Parents, let me be perfectly clear about something: I love your kids. Kids are wonderful; they are so open, honest, curious and energetic. I think your kids are fabulous…except when they are on the same plane as me. Inevitably, the person sitting behind me will always be a four year old wailing like a wounded badger and beating on the back of my seat with their feet for the entire flight. You all must know by now that I am not a person to advocate violence, however, on our very last flight I was seized with the urge to leap out of my seat, gag and duct tape the kid behind me to the chair then kick the back of his seat for an hour or so screaming, "How do you like it!!!!" (there I’ve vented, much better).
OK, back to the story…
So we arrived in Miami first, and within half an hour remembered why we hate flying into the Miami airport so much. If there was an award for ugliest airport with the worst customer service, Miami would be a shoe-in. Am I sounding a little negative here? No worries, it does get better, I promise! Next flight was to Grand Cayman and from there we boarded a Twin Otter to Little Cayman.
There are three Cayman Islands; Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. As the name would suggest, Grand is the largest and most developed of the three. This is where the cruise ships dock – there will be more about that later. Brac and Little are referred to as the Sister Islands. They are roughly the same size (aprox 11 miles long and 1 mile across) and only five miles apart, though Brac has about two thousand full time residents and Little has fewer than two hundred.
Little Cayman is a gem of an island. Famous for diving and especially the world renowned Bloody Bay Wall, it boasts a largely pristine natural environment and the third largest bird sanctuary in the Caribbean. The land is flat, flat, flat and there are no rivers, which means no sediment flowing into the ocean, which means crystal clear water, which means you can see over a hundred feet down on most days! No one comes to Little Cayman for the nightlife; there are few resorts and only one stand-alone restaurant. What Little Cayman does have plenty of is peace, quiet and relaxation.
We were met at the airport (I use that term loosely, "runway" would be more accurate) by the owner of the resort – I’ll call him "BC" for "Big Cheese". He’s a friendly guy in his mid-fifties and made us feel immediately welcome and at ease. Within minutes we were at the resort, checked in and saying hello to the current managers (I’ll call them Ivan & Wilma, after the hurricanes) who were also very friendly. To our surprise, the Prez and I were set up in one of the beachfront rooms; one of the nicest ones on the property. Also unexpected was the complete lack of formality. We’d been prepping and studying (The Prez especially, he was like a machine) for what we imagined was going to be an in-depth interview, one where we’d have to be on our toes and ready to show our expertise, so you can imagine how we felt when we asked what the plan was and were told that, essentially, there was no plan. It seemed a little odd but, hey, we are nothing if not adaptable!
Night one was spent, primarily, looking around the property and chatting with BC, Ivan & Wilma, and the guests. It was a huge relief to see that this place was tidy and organized – unlike the monkey’s wedding of Sea Level Cottages. I suppose if you hate quaint, pastel coloured buildings, loathe palm trees and stunning blue water, and despise sipping fruity cocktails by the pool then this is not the place for you…we loved it, funny about that.
Ivan told us that we were more than welcome to sign up for a dive the next morning but we were quite jet-lagged and decided to do an afternoon dive instead. And make no mistake, this is a resort for and about divers. Guests rise early for the breakfast buffet and hot-foot it down to the dock by 8am for the morning dives. The boats return around noon and the guests have a swim and a bit of a relax before the buffet lunch. By 2:30pm they are back on the boats and headed out for the afternoon dive. Dinner buffet is next between 6:30 and 8:30pm, after which almost everyone is zonked and back in their rooms.
The great thing about small towns and small islands is that there are all kinds of stories and usually everyone is quite happy to tell them to you. Ucluelet had its fair share of rascals and scandals, political problems, and family feuds – Little Cayman is no different. The first half of day two Ivan and Wilma filled us in on not only the day to day operations of the resort, but also all the juicy tidbits that make small island living interesting, sometimes frustrating, and always challenging.
The Current hoo-ha in the Caymans revolves around New Year’s Eve. The Islands took a real beating after the big hurricane of 2003. Grand Cayman suffered massive damage, not helped by the fact that the government (who fled the country and left the expats to stop the looting during the disaster) tried to keep the whole thing quiet instead of asking for much needed help. Tourism, one of the main sources of revenue for the Caymans, was hit hard and is still struggling to recover. New Year’s Eve falls on a Saturday this year; there is a law, designed to encourage locals to attend church, which forbids drinking, dancing and music after 11pm on Saturdays. Any rational person would say, "Oh heck, it’s one night of the year and tourists will certainly expect to party after midnight". yes, any rational person would say that but who ever said governments were rational? The government has agreed to a one hour extension but after the stroke of midnight the party must come to a grinding halt. As usual, tourists are voting with their dollars and bookings are down by up to ninety percent from last year. Ivan and Wilma told us that Caymanians are deeply religious…when it suits them. Apparently having several children, with several fathers, out of wedlock or cheating on your spouse with multiple partners is not as much of a crime against god as doing the Macarena and sipping a Pina Colada after ringing in the New Year. You know how god hates the Macarena! Well, I may not be religious but it appears god and I finally have something in common!
Moving right along…
The Prez and I jumped aboard the afternoon dive boat for a little bubble making. Sadly, the wind made things pretty bumpy thanks to Tropical Depression #35, or whatever it was, still we managed to have a fairly decent dive. I certainly do miss being below the water and frolicking with our fishy friends! Diving Little Cayman could spoil a girl as, along with the stupendous visibility, there is very little current. I’m not a fan of current. I remember one dive in Key Largo where the current was so strong that during our five minute safety stop my body was completely horizontal and it was tiring just trying to hang on to the rope. Oh yes, and 82F water in November certainly doesn’t hurt either!
I’ll wrap up part one by saying that by the end of day two we were having a lovely time; the meals were great, the weather was textbook (can you say warm?), and there were plenty of nice people to chat with. In part two I’ll tell you about our next two days and how we thought the interview went overall – and I won’t make you wait a week for it either. Ooooo a Coconutty cliffhanger!
So until the next posting I hope this finds everyone healthy, happy & lovin’ life!