Friday, March 7, 2014
The Caymans a slice of heaven
After lunch I took a nap (surprise), woke up in time to walk the beach just after sunset. The stars were starting to come out and I could see the lights all the way up 7 mile beach. The Marriott is on the west side of the island at the south end of 7 mile beach. Fine white sand and ocean seem to go on forever. After my walk I made a s'more , the resort sets up a fire on the beach every night. Then decided to get some provisions in for breakfast. The local grocery store was fairly large with good selections. The Cayman dollar is worth about 20% more than US and everything is expensive. I wonder where all the workers live and shop. They people in the grocery were very nice and called a cab for me when I was done. Cabs are plentiful but the 5 minute ride back from the grocery cost $10. US.
The cabs from the airport are regulated and the dispatcher assigns the driver and sets the price. Our driver Eric was chatty, we commented on driving on the left side and he said he'd been doing it a couple weeks. He was obviously kidding, so I said that it was amazing what you learned in prison these days. (A reference to La Cage). He said, in fact, he had been in prison for 22 years. Bazinga. The whole story was that he grew up in a small village outside Belize City and became a police officer. He came to the Caymans on a one year contract, met a woman, got snagged and married. Had a couple of kids and went from police work to corrections officer. He retired a few years ago and now drives a cab. This is one of the best parts of travel for me, meeting people and hearing their stories.
I am thankful that Connie made all the arrangements for us to get here. I was so crazed with La Cage that I just had enough brain power to grab my passport and a few clothes. Today I have to find an ATM , get batteries for my camera and a disposable underwater camera. I'm learning that doing this stuff on the fly instead of planning for weeks can be liberating. Expensive, but liberating.
After the grocery I went to the pool, you've got to love the climate where you can go to the pool at 10PM. The stars were gorgeous and a crescent moon was hanging in the sky like a big soup bowl. The water was a little cool but I got used to it . I was thinking about the hot tub but there were 2 people already in it and it looked like they were getting a bit passionate.
Today I want to go see the farm where they raise the sea turtles and schedule my dives. Then we'll have drinks with Connie's former neighbors who have a condo here.
We went down to the beach for a while, it's nice but with all the Marriott guests squeezed onto their little patch of beach, kind of crowded. They give you terry cloth covers for the chairs and beach towels. Courtney used his big drill to sink an umbrella for us and Evans brought us drinks. We sat for a while, then went out in the water. So beautiful and clear. The Marriott has sunk dozens of "reef balls" out in the water to conserve the sand and provide habitats for sea life. They are big, hollow half balls of concrete with holes in them like giant wiffle balls. They take pieces of broken off coral and stick it on the balls and it starts to grow. The coral is too young to look like much, but there are fish all around.
We decided to head out to the Turtle Farm. We stopped at the concierge desk and she gave us a discount card for admission and told us how to catch the city bus. The buses are really mini vans that drive specified routes and you can flag them down at any point and get off whenever you want. They only cost $2.50 US one way. The Turtle Farm breeds, hatches, grows and releases sea turtles. They also farm a certain number for local cuisine. They have prevented the extinction of the turtles and of course provide education. Lately, tho, they have added a water park. It probably brings in revenue to support the conservation, but it gave a sort of weird vibe to the place. Anyhow, we went first to the breeding pond, a big area with plenty of room for the turtles to swim and mingle with a big sandy area for the mommies to lay their eggs. The farm digs up the nests and transfers the eggs to an indoor nursery to keep them safe from predators. We saw some pretty big iguanas roaming around. Then there are tanks with the juveniles, they keep the males and females separate till they reach sexual maturity (I think they said 15 to 20 years). Lastly we went to a spot that had young ones, about as big as my hand that you could touch. You could even wade in the tanks with them. I was in hog heaven, when I tried to hold them they flapped their flippers and were amazingly strong. Reminded me of trying to hold a cat to trim its nails.
Rode the bus back and went into Divers Down, talked to Spilios about a dive for tomorrow afternoon. Got back to the room and had a snack. I decided I'd rather rest than go for a drink so agreed to meet Connie for dinner.