Thursday, May 31, 2012

Va-cayman-tion 2012: The Cruisening: Day 6 - Grand Cayman

Due to a lot of strange things in my brain, not limited to the news story of that man eating that guy's face off, I had a dream that I ate S. Epatha Merkerson, and I did a really terrible job of hiding the body. I was really wasteful when I think about it, because I really only ate her calf, and then wrapped the rest in saran wrap and threw her in a dumpster. And I was caught and going to prison, because shock of shocks, my finger prints were everywhere. I can't even remember the last time I saw an episode of Law & Order, so why the image of her? I say image because the woman looked nothing like her, I just know in my dream it was supposed to be her.

Anyway, we had to order room service to get an early start again. This time they brought the toast in pairs, but thinking last night they wouldn't, I ordered two, and consequently got four pieces of toast.

Getting off the boat was quite the ordeal as the cruise ship had to be moored some distance offshore, and there was no pier long enough to stretch, which is surprising. You'd think they would be all over that, but why have a pier where people can just walk to shore? It's better yet to have boats that can handle 150 people at a time and take 45 minutes to load, travel the 500 yards to shore, and unload. It makes so much sense for the end of the day, too, to make everyone waiting on the pier in the hot, hot sun as they slowly load the boats. What kind of Disney ride is this?

We had good timing as we were among the last few people aboard the boat, so we walked downstairs, walked right through the checkpoint, and walked on to the boat, which immediately left and dumped us on the docks of Georgetown. There was some tourist trap shops, and LOTS of people trying to get you to go on their tour. If you get on shore and want to go on a tour and can't find one, there is something wrong with you. These people are every five feet and yelling their pitch at anyone who will hear. Which is everyone because they are loud.

We got there very early because there was a little bit of confusion between "ship time" and "island time" and what our tickets said, but we passed the time by wandering around the market which was itself a big tourist trap. There were plenty of trashy things to do, buy discounted watches, diamonds, and tanzanite (which I had never even heard of until this trip, but apparently people love this shit). You could buy various art things, Swarovski crystal in the shape of an elephant or a tiger (as Anna says, klassy (yes, with a 'K')), duty free liquor, and various tourist crap. You could go to a fancy I-talian restaurant, or you could drink breakfast at Margaritaville (tempting, I will admit).

We walked by the shore, remarking at the blue clear water, wanting to jump in it. It was really, hot and humid, moreso than any place we have ever been. There were beaches that were roped off, and little reef/coral rocks you could walk out on and watch little crab walking all creepily sideways. Crabs are creepy. They are just an underwater spider with claws. Strange. I'm able to dismiss that image entirely when I eat them.

We wandered away from the main drag and back a couple of blocks and found a chachka shop filled with all kinds of junk I would never buy, and further down the street a small park that consisted of a tree and around this tree, more wild chickens. I had a moment with one of the chicks, slightly older than a peep-chick, and almost all its baby fuzz gone. It looked at me and cocked its head. No pun intended. I tried to whistle at it at the same pitch, but ultimately I don't speak chicken, and I'm pretty sure it spoke only Castilian Spanish. I think it was swearing at me as we left, and then it hailed a cab.

Thankfully our tour started and we headed back to the tourist trap at the port. At the check in we were assigned to a bus and seated behind us was this amazing looking family. They were so good looking, they could have been models. I poked them to see if they were made of cardboard. They weren't. The husband was of Asian descent and had an athletic build, and the wife was black and had these uniquely shaped eyes and a gorgeous smile. I thought she might be Jamaican or from one of the islands, but I didn't ask; she sounded American. They had two boys, one was about seven and the other was an infant. Even the kids could have been child models; they were really adorable. God, it was annoying.

Our first stop was the glass-bottomed boat, which was a pseudo sub. We drove over two shipwrecks and a big reef. We saw tons of fish, a barracuda, a sting ray, sponges, corals, and more fish. It was very Finding Nemo. The announcer or excursion narrator, or as I like to call him, Captain Screamypants, was loud. He was very, very islander. Lots of "ya mon," and he had an interesting accent. I imagine that in the privacy of his home, his real accent is either proper British, or Texas.

Our bus driver and tour guide was Damion and he was from Jamaica originally. He riled us up by getting us to respond "ya mon" to everything he said. He really was from Jamaica, though so I didn't imagine him at home with a totally western accent. But it's funny to imagine. The next stop was Hell. This was a place where a bunch of jagged, black limestone rocks protrude from the ground across a section of land in a creepy and interesting way. It would have been more severe had the entire thing not be lined with greenery. Apparently this place is really cool at sunset, but we only had 15 minutes, and it was all we needed. There is a small wooden walkway and a badly painted standup devil with a speech bubble saying 'Welcome to Hell!' It was a little anti climactic, since what I was picturing was way more amazing than this, but when I think of attraction, I think Disney, and I have been spoiled by quality.

In their gift shop, we asked the lady if they stamp passports. She said they weren't supposed to, but as she was saying no, pulled out her stamp and pad. So now my passport shows that I have been to hell in the Cayman Islands. Gregory also bought a Cayman Island dollar. It has the Queen on one side. Helloooo!

The next stop was the Tortuga Rum factory. I wish there was more of a tour of this place with a little history and a cheesy photo op, than just dumping us at the gift shop to sample and buy. But the samples were awesome, so we bought. Rum cake party when we get back!

Next stop was the most amazing thing and worth the trip to the Cayman Islands, quite possibly the entire cruise. As in I want to come back here and do this again, but spend all day, because apparently we only saw part of the park: The Cayman Island Turtle Farm. First of all, my experience with turtles is ordinarily chocolatey with pecan clusters, or the turtles have been small and not particularly friendly. These turtles were HUGE!!! And they were so cute all swimming around with their flippers and looking around with their turtle faces. We made our way over to the younger turtles that were a little smaller and they were hilarious. Damion reached in the water and pulled one out by the shell and it started to "swim" away from him, its flippers going crazy. He handed it to someone, and as they took it, he started to gently stroke its chin and neck, and it immediately stopped flailing and stayed there docile and content to be held and petted. The shells are so cool feeling as is their scaly skin, and this kind of animal is so foreign to my simple cat-dog universe, it was fucking awesome to hold a turtle!

I want one.

Right after that, we went to the cafe and had turtle burgers.

Here's the thing about that: you don't need to do this. You can do this, but it's not like meeting a cow and then having filet mignon. You will not be wowed by the experience because turtle, although apparently quite healthy and it does has a nice flavor (it does NOT taste like chicken), is tough like a shoe. There is nothing chicken-like about this experience. Do it if you must, but I'm Switzerland here.

Incidentally there were iguanas everywhere, not just in the park, but wild, like the chickens. We would be driving by and see several on people's roofs, in gardens, or in their driveway.

Sadly our excursion was over, though not after Damion showed us a couple of homes for sale (3 bedroom condo for 650k) since some of the people on the tour were asking about real estate (show offs!), and he also drove us past the ridiculously lavish Ritz Carlton hotel and golf course. Amazing! looking… because I don't play golf, so… pretty!

As a side note we drove past the world-famous Seven Mile Beach (which is only five and half miles, but whatever), and what we were able to see of it, did not scream out best of the best beaches. And like downtown Georgetown, at the port we were just not impressed with it. We imagined that something like THE CAYMAN ISLANDS RESORT would be a lot nicer, more posh, more polished, not as dumpy as it is. The Turtle Farm by contrast, was very nice and I look forward to returning there someday.

When we returned to the ship we went our separate ways to nap, Gregory and Jill to their respective rooms and I went to the deck to work on my tan while I snoozed. But I started doing that almost asleep jerk violently awake due to squirrel attack. I realized too that the ship had turned and my sun was now gone. I have the kind of skin that can tan in the shade, but I decided to move nonetheless and went up to the back of the ship to catch the last rays of the sun before it disappeared into the slightly overcast sky.

We didn't see the sunset since our room now faced south as we headed toward Jamaica and Ocho Rios. We ate dinner in the buffet tonight instead of our assigned table, and it was good for a change. I tried not to eat too much, but might have tipped it ever so slightly. The wind really picked up toward the end of the day, and the ship has been rocking gently back and forth, just enough to make you think you are drunk already. I did my best to limit it to one bottle of wine for today. Tomorrow is a very early day: up at 7, ready to walk out the door at 7:30 since our excursion begins at 8.

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