Four Days with the Caymaniacs

Lisa and I skipped the country for some relaxation, something I am not very good at.  When we were trying to decide on a place to go, we realized that if we go anywhere I know someone, I’m going to want to see them, so we opted for somewhere where we knew noone, where we couldn’t overplan, and where I’d have to just chill out for big periods of time.   We chose Grand Cayman, even though the drug-violence-induced-discounts in Acapulco were really attractive.

My quick review of Grand Cayman:

  • Overall, not the typical Rollins vacation (which would be more about the outdoors, kayaking, etc).  We stayed in a hotel (no tents) across from Seven Mile Beach, which is 7 miles (surprise) of high end hotels, time shares, and condos as far as the eye can see, if your eye can only see seven miles.
  • Diving.  Grand Cayman is largely a diving mecca (and I have retired from scuba).  Lisa was certified over a year ago, and finally got to try it out.   Not Lisa’s cup of tea.
  • Locals.  The Caymaniacs (my name for the locals, though they prefer Caymanians, I guess) were all friendly and willing to help if you asked politely and directly.
  • Bike riding.  The island would be ideal for bike riding, if it weren’t 80 degrees the whole time, and that all the tourists weren’t getting wasted during the entire day.   I rode a rented mountain bike (i.e. junk heap with no brakes) to the tip of the West End, which was a nice way to spend an afternoon, even with the gale force winds.
  • Snorkeling. The Rollins did snorkel quite a few times, with Cemetery Reef being out most visited spot, which was great.
  • Scooter.  We rented a scooter and drove out to Rum Point.  Half the run was the excitement over whether or not I was going to spill the scooter and end up leaving two large human carnage marks on the smooth Caymanian roads.   They drive on the left side, which wasn’t too hard to master, except when combined with turnabouts and having to read directional signs while trying to keep the scooter turning in the correct direction.
  • Mastic Trail.  DON’T GO.  We were looking forward to a little hiking to break up the beach walking and swimming, but 200 yards into this swampy marsh, and we decided to turn around and get back on the scooter.  Lisa acquired about 10 large mosquito bites during the 5 minutes we were in the swampy part.   Seriously, don’t waste your time on this hike.
  • Buses.  The bus system is great.  They aren’t the large public city style buses, but vans that hold about 10 people and they run constantly.   Every 10-15 minutes once swoops up and away you go.  About $2.50 a person, so it’s not cheap like a city bus, but you can take it for 10 miles and it’s all the same price, so it’s much better than a taxi.
  • Hotel.  Sunshine Suites, where we stayed, was a great choice.  It fit the Rollins budget and the free breakfast was great, even if it was the same thing every single day.
  • Food.  Overall the food was expensive but tasty.   The Jerk Chicken was fantastic at the Sunday brunch at Guy Harveys.  The Mango Snapper at Paradise was tasty.  The Conch Ceviche in the open air bar on the NorthWest side was top notch.  The peanut butter and banana sandwiches that I made myself were simply brilliant.
    • The over budget-conscious Rollins prepared what I think may be the worst meal I’ve eaten in 5 years.  We’ve recently been on a turkey sausage kick, and thought we’d try pork, which of course were breakfast sausages though we didn’t realize that until I had consumed about two of them with a scowl on my face.   The fact that our hotel advertised a grill but doesn’t actually have them meant we were frying them (plus Lisa’s hot dogs) in a frying pan in our hotel.   Add in a red bell pepper, and some cheese and crackers, and I wanted to refund the entire meal.
  • Book Reading. I managed to finish Barbarians at the Gate, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Look for a post on that later.
  • Taxis.  More expensive than buses, but appear to be the only option to and from the airport.   From the airport, we had a clean air conditioned cab.  To the airport, we had a non-air conditioned “Elvis” cab where the Caymaniac driver had Elvis glasses, straight black hair, and had Elvis music playing in his Elvis-decorated cab.  We exited the cab to the tune of “Only Fools Rush in” but I couldn’t wait to get out.

If you’re like the Rollins, I would recommend looking at other islands, possibly the two smaller islands, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which are apparently much less developed and “shopping” is not a central activity in either location.

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