Tuesday, 31 July 2012

It's a hard knock life...

...when you're on holiday in the Cayman Islands! I am having an absolutely fabulous time here - early morning swims, playing with my super-amazing nephew, spending some time with my sister and brother-in-law... and of course getting to see some of the sights of Grand Cayman too.

My nephew is seriously impressive - he's 6 and a half months old and is not only crawling (which he's been doing for the past month and a half already) but is also climbing absolutely everything he can, which includes the stairs, trying to get on the sofas and chairs (which luckily are a bit high for him to actually get onto) and mostly climbing up people. He managed to climb up me onto the sofa yesterday which was quite impressive. He's also started hitting your hand if you ask him to 'Gimme 5' and has such a huge smile and happy character.  I'm in love!

So, what have I been up to that has put the arts and crafts on hold for two weeks? Well... to start with plenty of visits to the beach, including Seven Mile Beach (yes, it's a white sandy beach and it's seven miles of beauty!) cocktails by a turquoise blue sea, swimming at the pool attached to my sister's condo and hanging out with the iguanas (including blue iguanas which are native to the Caymans).

But the highlights have been:

  • Meeting my dad's cousin who has lived here for the past 30-odd years. She's an absoloute fount of knowledge and a wealth of facts about the history, flora and fauna of the islands. She took my sister and myself on a small trip to see some bits off the beaten track - we went looking for Lucas and Pygmy Blue butterflies and learnt about house-shaped graves which are a feature of some of the graves around the mid 1800s. They are found all over the island but there's some speculation as to why people started using them. Ann Stafford, who runs CaymANNature has done a fair amount of research into it and has some really interesting facts and finds. She's an expert on the flora and fauna of the island as well and showed us some unusual places, well off the beaten track, where we saw different kinds of herons, a nesting hawk and lots of different kinds of butterfly, and she told us all about endemic plants and those that were introduced and how some places are now threatened due to roads and man encroaching on habitats. You should definitely go and look at the website and feel free to go and like the facebook page too.
  • Sting Ray City. Possibly the best part of my trip to Grand Cayman so far. We went out on Captain Marlin's boat for a 3 hour trip which had 3 stops - one in sting ray city, one at the barrier reef and one in the coral gardens. In Sting Ray City, you get to walk around on a sand bank about half an hour away from the main island. All around, and on, the sand bank are sting rays who are super friendly and just come up to you, brush against you and swim past looking for food. We got to feed them some squid and have photos taken with them, which included having to kiss one of the sting rays! They were so amazing and I was a bit like an excited child wading around looking to make friends with them.  The reef was really pretty, although it was slightly tempered by the fact that my mask was leaking and I couldn't adjust it enough to stop water coming through. But the coral gardens were amazing! There were thousands of tropical fish that we were swimming with - from Sergeant Majors to Blue Tangs, Angel Fish to Needlefish there were all sorts. And again we were given food to give to them - hand-feeding wild fish in their natural habitat was a really amazing experience and I would love to do it again. I was totally in awe of what I was seeing and having the opportunity to experience.
  • Swimming with dolphins. YES! I went swimming with dolphins at Dolphin Cove. Admittedly these dolphins are not wild (actually one of them is, but the others were bred there) although there is actually an entrance where they can get in or out if they wanted to. But they are fed pretty well and well looked-after so they stay where they are. We did the 'Ultimate' dolphin experience which meant that not only did we get to swim with them, stroke them, kiss them and get kissed, but we also got to swim by holding on to the dorsel fin of a dolphin on each side and they pull you through the water and, even more amazing, the 'toe-push'. You lie on your tummy with your legs locked and your feet facing down. Two dolphins come up behind you and push your feet with their noses, literally pushing you out of the water so that you have your torso and upper leg above the water. I got to do it twice as the first time I did it, Sally (one of the dolphins) didn't quite manage to get her nose onto my foot and I wasn't raised up out of the water. The next time both Sally and Lucia performed brilliantly and I ended up pretty much walking on water! It was great fun and such an brilliant experience. What a fabulous day!
  • Turtles! We went down to the Turtle Farm where they breed green sea turtles. Sea Turtles have a real issue with breeding as a number of the babies never make it to the sea and their natural breeding grounds are being destroyed by humans. At the farm they breed turtles, many of whom are released into the wild. I hadn't realised quite how large they can get - they are huge! And we got to hold some of the baby ones which was fun too. As well as the turtles, there were also some nurse sharks, various fish and a crocodile. Another fantastic experience. And I've seen lots of Cayman wildlife now. Yay!

So there you go - some of the highlights of my trip so far. I am having a fabulous time. Sorry for the lack of craft posts but...well you have to make the most of the time you have! I'll be back next week so don't worry, there'll be crafts and reviews aplenty very soon. 

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