To hell and back

Do you remember when Hurricane Ivan hit the Cayman Islands in 2004? Probably not. After sustaining major damage during the category 5 storm, Grand Cayman imposed a media blackout, preventing pictures of the destruction (which would inevitably hurt its tourism industry) from being immediately shown to the world.

I think this was a smart move by the islands’ government.

Even though it's been a few years, Grand Cayman is still somewhat physically scarred by natural disaster. Max and I saw remaining damage as well as a tremendous rebuilding effort during our day-long, four-wheeling tour of the island.

Still, despite the storm and in contrast to Jamaica, Grand Cayman seems to sustain a higher standard of living for its residents. The government levies no taxes, and for this reason attracts many foreign investors looking for an off-shore tax haven. In fact, the US dollar is only valued at only 80 cents when compared to the Caymanian currency.

In Grand Cayman, we saw no abject poverty, only modest homes and small business. We were never hassled for money, a refreshing change from the other ports of call during the cruise. But the most memorable part of our day in Grand Cayman, aside from speeding down the waters or Seven Mile Beach by Jet Ski, was meeting new friends. California natives Robert and Cindy approached us as we waited to begin the tour and, since a group of four was required, asked if we'd like to share a Jeep Wrangle. We readily agreed.

Like Max and me, Robert and Cindy chose the Mariner for a honeymoon cruise. Unlike us, however, their nuptials were the start of a large blended family of seven children or, as Robert explained, "The Brady Bunch plus one." I cannot fathom starting off a life together with 7 children ranging in age from 5 to 15, but this couple positively glowed when they spoke of their family during our day-long tour of the island.

In Grand Cayman motorists drive on the right side, a throwback to the time when Britain controlled the island. Max and Robert shared driving responsibilities and offered each other reminders on what side of the road should be traveled.
After stopping by a local a rum factory and savoring local product, We headed straight to Hell--a small area that certainly lived up to it name because of bizarre rock formation made of dead coral and that is unique to Grand Cayman. Hell boasts one nightclub not surprisingly called Disco Inferno and a combination souvenir shop/post office, and little else. While Max and I refrained from buying any “I went straight to Hell” t-shirts, we couldn’t resist sending ourselves a postcard just to get its devilish postmark.

Grand Cayman was certainly hotter than Hell on this particular Thursday. And even though the beach offered refreshment from the heat, I couldn’t wait to get back to the lovely Mariner. In contrast steamy Grand Cayman, the boat featured an ice show, one of the highlights of its entertainment schedule. Max and I hadn’t made it to many of the nightly shows, but after being stuck in Hell for even a short period of time, anything on ice seemed like the place to be!


utenzi said...

That's a great gimmick for them to use: I went straight to Hell. Funny!

I'm glad that the two of you, like Hermes so many years ago, were able to return from Hell, Diane.

Suvii said...

That picture of Max in the devil pose is great!

kenju said...

My daughter and her husband have a blended family of 7 children, ages 7 to 17. It has worked out well, but it isn't easy.

Diane Mandy said...

Wow, Kenju! That's fantastic! Do all 7 live with them?