Thursday, July 8, 2010

Grand Cayman Vacation

You may want to read the previous post below dated July 3rd before reading the following post ....

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Our flight from Houston was a smooth one.  I found that I wasn't as nervous as I ususally get when I'm flying.  The movie was "How to Train Your Dragon" and we noticed there were lots of families on the plane. Our transportation from the airport was a small bus and the first thing we noticed was that the steering wheel was on the right side, or should I say the "wrong side".  As soon as we took off for our hotel, all four of us gasped when we saw what looked like a car pulling out in front of us.  In reality the car was on his side of the road and there was a curve in the road so it looked like he was turning in front of us.  We all thought we were about to hit him!!!  After we realized what was happening, we all had a big laugh. 

Once we arrived at the hotel, we quickly unpacked and did some exploring around our hotel.  We walked down to look at the beach and decided to take a long barefoot walk along Seven Mile beach.  It was beautiful!  The weather was cloudy and not too hot, but we were told it had rained that morning.  The water felt cool on our feet and the sand was white and very fine, not at all like we were accustomed to at Galveston beach.  We walked quite a ways looking at the trees and rocks and shells along the way, and the residences and condos on the beach.  I later discovered that the rent for a beachside condo is about $2000. per month. 

Note: Cayman dollars are worth less than US dollars so $1. US is worth $1.25 CI or Cayman Island dollars.  Just one meal for 4 people in the hotel equaled about $160. - $300. CI dollars. 

After we walked back to our hotel, we had dinner overlooking the beach.  The food was fabulous and since we purchased an all-inclusive package, we could order appetizers, dessert and anything we wanted.  I discovered that I loved the virgin Pina Coladas.  They were so smooth, like eating ice cream.   I bet I had about 9 of them during the 5 days that we stayed there. 

We probably turned in around 10 p.m. after a long day of travel and getting settled in. Our room was very nice, but it seemed to stay a little damp.  We teased Patty and Jackie about being in the Presidential Suite on the 5th floor, which was also the top floor.  They weren't really, but it made for lots of laughs.  Jackie is very creative and quite the story-teller, so he kept us all entertained during our entire stay.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday didn't seem like July 4th.  No fireworks were on the agenda for our time in Grand Cayman.  Although I think we did see a few fireworks, but we also learned that Monday was a national holiday in the British West Indies, Constitution Day.  So any fireworks that went off were probably in celebration of that day.  We also learned that the shopping areas are closed on Sundays and would also be closed for the holiday except for when the cruise ships were in port.  So we planned to try to do a little shopping on Monday. 

We woke up, ate a huge buffet breakfast, complete with omelets made to order, fruit, all sorts of breads, and anything else you can imagine.  Afterward we couldn't wait to hit the beach and do a little swimming and just relax.  It was very overcast and suddenly a big wind came up and started blowing away the beach umbrellas so we quickly got out of the water and sat by the hotel pool under an umbrella watching it rain.  Eventually I think both Jacks got back in the water until we decided it was time to get dressed and get some lunch.  We had a late lunch in the Red Parrot dining room and it was again fabulous.  They served sparkling wine with the lunch, which didn't taste too good to me so I only took a couple of sips.

We asked where we could find an interesting attraction in the area to see and we were directed to Smith Cove.  This was a very beautiful spot where the water crashes onto the rocks and there were some boys there diving off the rocks.  There was also a group of people there that we decided must be celebrating a wedding.  They were drinking and singing and having a great time in the park there.  We also saw a huge house that was guarded by 4 large dogs.  The taxi driver who took us there was an interesting character because he was an Elvis impersonator.  He sang for us and it was so funny because Jackie Dennis has also impersonated Elvis and was once the president of the Elvis fan club in Texas.   What a small world !  Of all the taxi drivers in Grand Cayman, we get the Cayman Elvis!!!  Elvis said he had about 14 Elvis costumes and one cost him about $3000.  Evidently he is pretty famous on the island because the other taxi drivers knew him well.

That night it rained very hard as we had dinner by the beach.  At one point we had to get up and move to another table because it was raining so hard. We enjoyed great conversation with Jack and Patty as they all reminisced of school days and friends they knew and we all got to know each other better.  Jack D. was able to arrange for us a tour of Hell, the Turtle Farm, and the Tortuga Rum Cake factory for Monday and for Stingray City and snorkling for Tuesday afternoon.  He told them that he was a travel editor and they gave us some special rates.

Monday, July 5, 2010

We got up early today to eat a buffet breakfast again and meet our tour guide by 8:45 a.m.  Nelson, a Jamaican tour guide greeted us and Jackie teased that he looked like Stevie Wonder and wondered if he could also sing like Elvis.  Every sentence either started with "Hello mon!" or ended with "yeah mon", and yes Nelson did sing for us, but not like Elvis or Stevie.  Nelson made the tour of the Governor's mansion, an 18 hole golf course, the Ritz Carlton, (where the rooms are $600. a night)  the Turtle Farm, Hell, and the Tortuga Rum Cake factory all very interesting.  He gave us lots of facts about the island and we really enjoyed our morning.  We also saw some almond trees and "sea grape" trees while we were on the tour.

Hell is an actual town in Grand Cayman Island and it is quite a tourist trap.  You can send postcards to your friends from Hell and have a "Hell-uva" time.  There is a rock formation there that when it was first discovered the person said  "This must be what Hell looks like" and the name stuck.  So after a very brief visit, we decided to "get the hell out of Hell".   (At least that's what the driver Nelson said!)   

At the Turtle Farm we saw a 579 lb turtle named Sparky.  Sparky is a female sea turtle and is the best breeder they have.  She is something like 65 yrs old.  Sea turtles are the world's largest reptiles. There were lots of huge sea turtles there and we were told that turtle soup is really a delicacy and is "good for men" (whatever that means!)  And so we had lots of jokes too about looking for some turtle soup.  We got to hold some of the smaller turtles.  It is illegal to kill a turtle we learned and the only place you can get them is from Cayman Island. This is so they won't become extinct. So they breed them at the Turtle Farm and release many of them back into the sea but also sell some of them to eat.

At the Tortuga Rum Cake factory we got to sample different flavors of rum cake, pineapple, coconut, apple cinnamon, banana, chocolate, you name it.

That afternoon, after lunch at the hotel, we decided to take a taxi to do some shopping but discovered all the shops were about to close since the cruise ships were getting ready to leave.  That was at 3 p.m.  We picked up a few souveniers and stopped and had a drink at a Starbucks before returning to the hotel.  A taxi ride for just a few miles was $15. US or $12. CI each way. 

Thankfully it didn't rain on Monday but that night we decided to eat dinner indoors at the Red Parrot since we had been in the heat all day.  It was a very quiet and intimate dinner and we just enjoyed great conversation again and anticipated what we would be doing the next day.  Jackie was talking about our trip to Stingray City and I wasn't really paying attention and at one point he said "nothing like unprotected s...." and he couldn't get the rest of the word out and my eyes got big!!!  I started laughing at him and at myself and he finished his sentence "unprotected STINGRAYS" and we had another big laugh.  So I teased him about saying "nothing like unprotected s...." for the rest of our stay.  

After a very relaxing meal, we all walked down and sat in lounge chairs on the beach and talked.  We laughed and laughed as we listened to the waves against the shore.  It was so peaceful and relaxing.  We also talked about some of the things that we each had learned over the years and how we measure success in life.  It was a very special time for all of us and it was almost midnight by the time our heads hit the pillow.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On Tuesday the girls slept in while the guys had breakfast together.  Around 10:30 a.m. we took a taxi into town again to see if we could find the glass blowing store.  The taxi dropped us off and we walked a LONG way to the glass blowing place, but it was worth it.  It was very hot today and even hotter inside the store.  The ovens that the glass blower uses get over 2000 degrees and you could feel the heat standing several feet away when he opened the door to the oven.  We watched as 3 guys worked together to form a beautiful fish.  The prices there were very high so we didn't purchase anything but it was amazing to see their work. 

We stopped and had a light drink before returning to our hotel and we quickly grabbed a sandwich before we met our transportation to Stringray City at 1 p.m. We learned that a man at our hotel on the previous day had been stung by a jelly fish and their trip was cancelled so they were trying it again.  So we all were a little nervous about taking this trip.  It wasn't far to Safe Haven where we boarded the catamaran to take us out to the sand bar where the stingrays are.  There were probably about 35 people on the catamaran with us and the weather was gorgeous and the water was pretty calm.  

Note:  One thing we learned about Grand Cayman is that they really seem to cater to families.  There were lots of children and teenagers there.  Not the partying type of crowds and babes in bikinis that you see in Mexico.  

We sailed out about 3 miles on the catamaran to the most beautiful spot near Rum Point.  It was a sand bar and there were several boats  and catarmarans already there.  We were given snorkle gear and exited the catamaran into water that was 3 - 4 feet deep.  It was cold, but not freezing cold.  It felt really good.  Immediately, the crew were feeding squid to attract the stingrays and they were so awesome.  A photographer was available to take pictures and we had so much fun petting them, holding them and just watching them swim in and out among us.  It was quite an experience!!!  I was never really nervous although the pics the photographer took of me look like I was ready to poop my pants !!  Hahahaha

We were able to enjoy the stingrays for quite a while and then we went over to an area to snorkle but Jack was the only one who was interested.  The water was deeper there and the current was pretty strong.  He jumped in at first with no life vest and no swim fins, but ended up getting back on the boat and getting outfitted.  He did some better but was really tired out when he got done.  Even though we spent around 3 hours in the sun, we didn't really burn at all.  It was still very cloudy but we really thoroughly enjoyed the trip.  There was a great sense of accomplishment over conquering our fears about swimming with the stingrays.  We returned to the hotel and had a wonderful dinner in the outdoor restaurant by the beach.  Afterward we took a little walk on the beach and then just sat silently listening to the waves again on the beach.  I was very very tired that night.  I think all the sun and the week was catching up with me.  I think we all were also a little sad knowing it would be our last night together and our last night in Grand Cayman.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

On Wednesday we got up pretty early and started packing our bags. We went and ate breakfast and then Jack and I headed to the beach to rent a waverunner.  The water was so peaceful and calm that morning. Very few waves. Riding a waverunner was my "one thing" that I wanted to do but Jack was a little hesitant about it.  I assured him that we could do this!  And off we went.  It was so much fun!  Like riding a motorcycle except on the water.  At one point he got up to about 30 miles per hour.  I wanted to go again and this time drive the waverunner but we decided against it.   Jackie and Patty arrived and took our picture just as we were getting off the waverunner.  We then got in the water and saw some cool fish.  A huge snapper fish about 3 ft. long and some cute little black and yellow tiger / zebra fish.   We enjoyed it so much we didn't want to leave, but knew we had to get cleaned up and get ready to head to the airport. 

We finished packing and met in the hotel lobby and got on the computers and started uploading some pics on facebook.   Then we went outside and ate lunch and watched some people parasailing.  We took more pictures and then left for the airport.  Once we got to the airport we had to wait a while since our plane did not leave until around 5 p.m.  It ended up being about 30 min. late due to the heavy rains in Houston.  I had to wait barefooted while they sorted through my purse and took everything out in the open.  The officer finally put all my hand lotion, eye drops, etc., into a clear baggie and offered me a caution about having these items where they could see them.

We bought a few last minute souveniers at the airport including some rum cakes to take back home to friends.  We also met a couple from Sealy Texas who had been on the same flight from Houston with us on Saturday, visited Stingray City with us, and then were flying home with us.

Note:  We found all the people to be very gracious and kind in Grand Cayman.  Wherever we went they were eager to serve us and seemed very genuine.

We worried that the flight would be rough but it really wasn't.  The plane wasn't full like it was flying in from Houston and this time I had to pay extra for the movie.  I chose "Dan in Real Life".  It was raining a little when we arrived in Houston around 8 p.m. but not really bad.  It probably took us an hour and a half after we got off the plane to get through customs and get our baggage and get back to where our car was parked.   We finally arrived back home in Bridge City around 11:30 p.m.  What a wonderful vacation.  Something we will definately never forget.  Amazing island, amazing friends, amazing time!!


  1. What awesome detail Pam. You had to be writing in a journal to recall of this.

    Yes, it was a remarkable trip. Half the fun was just being with you and Jack. To my knowledge I have only seen him a few times since high school.

    It was nice to see and get to know who he married, learn about your family and sharing the laughter of our school days and laughter of this trip.

    I cherish this blog entry, because I forgot at least a third of this.

    It was also very interesting because as we enjoyed and shared this, little did I realize it was a combination of new beginnings and close of a fond chapter of life.

    It only been a week or so, but I miss the fun we shared in Grand Cayman.

  2. It's the other way around...$4 CI = $5 US approx :)

  3. This is probably my 6th visit in the last few years to this outstanding island. It seems that everybody is running to reach there. Hotels are always full and there's a great crowd at food places and restaurants which makes this island more attractive. I am looking for a Cayman Guide, so that I can make a list of places that I would like to go.