Margot decided it was time to get away from the rat race of Grand Cayman. We’re in the middle of the Caribbean Sea and should get off our butts and see the Sister Islands she said. After much planning and a Monday public holiday long weekend we were at the airport ready to catch our flight to Cayman Brac on Friday afternoon.
Cayman Brac is the larger of the two Sister Islands. 1½ miles across by about 11 miles long. Little Cayman is much smaller and only has about 150 people living on it compared to approximately 1500 on the Brac and 40 000 on Grand Cayman. We were going to the Brac to explore the wonderful subtropical sights, swim in the clear blue sea and climb the Bluff (a 140 foot hill). I was looking forward to this as Grand Cayman is a completely flat rock.
As many of you know Margot is absolutely terrified of flying. We walked out of the departure lounge onto the tarmac. The humidity hits you like a wave after the chill of the air-conditioning. Suddenly Margot freezes and her face drops. She refuses to move another step. In front of us is a twin prop plane. Luckily for me an airport authority ushers us further down the tarmac to a Boeing 737 jet.
The flight is 18 minutes long. The plane climbs to 11 000 feet and then descends. My hand is being crushed through out the journey. Margot’s heart is racing, her breathing laboured and her palms sweaty. How she manages to fly long distance alone I will never know. She still manages to make friends with the lady sitting next to her, the whole time tightly gripping my hand and looking like she is going to pass out. We arrive without any further incidents and are welcomed by ladies handing out free cool drinks and sweets in the Gerrad Smith International Airport car park.
Robin, Margot’s new friend organizes us a hire car and we set off to La Esperanza, the self catering bungalows we’re staying at. It’s a beautiful spot on the North East section of the island. During our 20 minute drive we are amazed by the lush vegetation and the bluff (which runs along the middle of the island). This is the first hill/rock face/cliff I’ve seen in over six months and I’m fascinated by it (must have been a rock climber in a past life!).
La Esperanza is right next to the sea with its own bar, grocery store and restaurant. We missed the sun set by a few minutes but still managed to make the last few rays while sipping ice cold Heineken’s. The sky had magnificent pink clouds and the water a deep blue. The breeze was cooling after the heat of the day and the lapping water relaxing.
In no time at all we had a local trying to talk to us. They said the island was friendly but this was a little too much. Couldn’t he see we were trying to be alone? Margot went to the bar to get a couple more beers. When she came back he asked where his was. I explained that we had limited cash and had not budgeted on buying beers for a local (who by this time was fobbing himself off as a tour guide who was going to show us the bluff and caves the next day). He soon excused himself and we never saw him again. Although if we had we would have walked the other way to avoid him.
It turned out the restaurant was closed for renovations. The shack outside was selling portions of BBQ’d jerk chicken. We got a large CI$10 portion and headed across the road to the bungalow with a couple more ice cold beers. Jerk is a spicy fiery sauce that they liberally marinade and baste the chicken with. It’s yummy! Although you do need a beer or two afterwards to cool your mouth down.
We were enjoying the bungalows air-conditioning. It’s hot and humid here in Cayman and likely to get hotter over the next couple of months. I found a large bottle of whiskey in the cupboard; obviously left by the last tenants. A few Scotches and some bad cable TV we were ready for bed. Actually we decided to give the whiskey as miss, but the TV was bad.
Next morning we drove to the end of the island (a short five minute ride). The island is covered with historic, heritage and natural sites. There are caves, walks, lagoons, forests, historic houses and of course the world famous Bloody Bay Wall – a spectacular diving area. We had no dive gear so it would be just shore swimming for us.
Our first stop after driving to the end of the island was Peters Cave. From the car park we walked uphill through a forest full of hermit land crabs to a cave that has been used as a hurricane shelter over the years. It’s deep and dark and has a chair lounger hidden in its depth. Not to many bats. You can imagine people coming up here in a hurricane to avoid the sea surges and 200 mile an hour winds. It was fantastic to be walking uphill again. My legs have not climbed more than a short flight of steps (the highest being boarding the airplane the day before) in over six months!
The day was running away with us and we returned to the lovely air-conditioning of our rental car. We had packed sandwiches and decided to buy a couple of beers and go to the Bluff lighthouse to eat them. Don’t expect any great structure here. An solar powered battery light.
We did however climb the old lighthouse structure, look over the Bluff edge, pose for photographs, look at the red breasted boobies and return to the car without stopping for our lunch.
No not sunburnt boobies; birds that are called Boobies. They dive into the sea and catch fish. The Boobies have quite strange looking wings and soar on the ocean breezes.
Lunch was at the endangered Cayman parrot forest. The walk into the forest to search for these rare birds took us past mango trees, a mixture of plants and trees and the dildo cactus. I found this very amusing. Who would want to sit on this prickly thing?
We manged to see a pair of parrots briefly before they flew away. That was the end of our strenuous afternoon.
Later that day we drove to the other end of the island to meet up with some friends who were sailing from Grand Cayman to Little Cayman and finally on to Cayman Brac.
Got a call from them while we were watching the sun go down. Next thing we saw their sail and the pirate flag. Also got a couple of neat pictures with the sun behind the boat and a 737 flying inches over their heads.
The next day was really chilled. Slept late. Paid for the hire car, had a few beers with the intrepid sailer’s (who were having battery, engine and other boat trouble). When swimming, explored another cave – bat cave. Slept some more and then at 4.30am the next day headed of to catch our early morning flight back to Grand Cayman. Err this flight was not by choice – it was the only flight we could get.
Would we go back? Yes – a definite yes, next time with torches, scuba gear and a lot more money!