Thursday, 22 December 2011

Las Cascadas - The waterfalls



The very large waterfall that cascades down the slippery rocks is spectacular. It begins high up and has several points where it pools on a ledge then tumbles down again to the next level. We had drinks on the level above the lodge, up the steps and over the bridge. The next level is a walk up steeper steps, through the rainforest to an lovely clearing and a multi branched waterfall. The photos don't do it justice really. My camera and I nearly ended up in the pond, the rocks were very slippery and with the high canopy above filtering the sun, I suspect it's always like that.

More on Honduras soon. Next stop is Cuba I think, smoking giant Cuban cigars while welcoming 2012 seems like a very good idea to me. 

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Honduras - Las Cascades

Honduras seems to have happened a life time ago, funny how we come back to our lives after a trip away and the busyness kicks in. I intended to write much about the lovely time we had there, now seems as good a time as any. Sleep is not happening, possibly because I'm excited about my next two trips. One possibly back to Honduras and the other a trek to Australia and New Zealand in February. I took wise advice and booked a longer trip than I had originally planned, a three city journey in the southern hemisphere.

Back to Honduras. The trip happened suddenly, decisions made to go and then working late the night before so I was free to enjoy my time off. I neglected to take out money thinking that I could stock up at the airport when I arrived. Not wise it seems. Luckily Jo was more organised and generous enough to share her US dollars. We didn't need much as it turned out because it was all inclusive at the Las Cascadas Lodge. Ryan picked us up at the airport, along with Babs and Simon from George Town and their friends Trish and Roland from Canada. It was full house at Las Cascades with the six of us.

We rattled our way up the Cangrejal River valley, the road pot holed and slushy from recent rains, with Ryan's commentary about the area he so obviously loves. The road reminded me of some I had travelled in New Zealand. A narrow valley with lush vegetation and the tumbling river alongside. The forest was different, tropical rain forest with cocoa trees and banana palms. The big gates of the Lodge swung open, we had arrived.

The lodge is nestled beneath the high canopy and fits into the rain forest with it's thatched roof, stone exterior and warm timbers inside. The lodge is open to the outside with netting walls so there was the feeling of being close to nature. Our room was right by the waterfall, a soothing noise to sleep to. After a short rest, it was all action. Off to Omega Lodge just up the road to go white water rafting. The photos are in a previous post. Allan the Irishman was our guide, he had previously lived in Rotorua and guided on the Huka Falls. Rumour has it that he has the Huka tattooed on his back.

White water rafting is fun, wet and chilly but tons of excitement. The section of the Cangrejal we rafted is mostly rated 3 and 4 so challenging without being too tough for beginners. Being able to paddle dragon boat style possibly helped. Erin from GoErinGo was in our group along with Kristen. It was interesting talking to Erin, she's had a few adventures in the past months and a lifestyle I aspire to. Maybe after this contract. Before rafting we ate spaghetti, a rafting ritual. It was delicious, as was the homemade bread served with it.

Wet and tired we returned to the luxury of a hot shower at the Lodge and talk of our adventures on the river. I was so tired I chilled with my book. Dinner at Las Cascades is a special treat. Six people for dinner, a chef who discussed the meal with us first and lovely staff serving. What more could we ask for. Olvin and his team Maira and Miriam provided us with wonderful food made from local ingredients. They treated us to the very best food and service, all with a smile. The bar was also well stocked.

Ryan and Maggie helped us plan the next day's adventure over one of Maggie's special cocktails. I got to choose, mountain biking was the plan. A trip up the valley to Yaruka in a jeep then riding back down through the villages. The drive up was spectacular, the ride down and up and then down again and up once more before going down was special. Ash was our guide, Erin and Kirsten joined us too. More about that in my next post. For now, here is a photo of the Las Cascades crew and the lodge.

Miriam, Olvin and Maria with Ryan at the back

The gathering place

Our room is to the left 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Honduras - White water fun

Keeping in control
Rafting is fun. It's funny, I come from one of the  top rafting countries and I hadn't experienced this until I went to Honduras and enjoyed Rio Cangrejal. I couldn't believe that our guide and our host had both guided in New Zealand. In fact, many of the people we met had New Zealand connections. It's a small world and others understood my accent for a change. It was a bit chilly, not nearly as chilly as New Zealand waters thankfully. Here's a collections of photos taken by one of the canoeists that joined us.  
                                           
                                                     Smile for the camera

Beautiful countryside

Down we go!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Bruised a little

It's been an interesting week so far. Heaps to do while feeling a little bruised. Racing on Sunday on the 22s got a little hectic, 18 plus knots of wind kicking up some good swells. A quick gibe to get out of the way of another caused the fore deck, that would be me, to have a little mishap. Getting squished a little, hanging on as we began to broach then making it to hike on the rail. The bruised are impressive, especially when I'm a hard one to bruise. The one on my bicep made my colleagues gasp, they didn't see the ones on my legs.

What a fantastic day out though. We got to see the dolphin, swum towards us as we watched in wonder and maybe squealed a little. He looked up and then went under the boat, amazing to see him weaving through the fleet. Others had tales too. I've learnt heaps about sailing from my friends who invite me to take part on their boats. This weekend it was Pete and Marie. We got talking about sailing and I remembered my long held dream of sailing around the Mediterranean. That suddenly seemed possible, the how to sail course is on the to do list. Marie and I also made a plan to get the diving course done in the new year. Not a bad couple of resolutions.

Today I worked with Fiona at the travel place to arrange my trip home for Noah's birthday. It's a tall ask to plan a trip from here to Brisbane on to Aotearoa back to Melbourne and then back to Cayman. Lots of different legs to see all the family and friends. Fiona was up to the challenge, after all I did help her to choose a dress for a wedding, and I'm reviewing the options tonight. Can't wait to see everyone, especially the two newest family members. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Another quick story

One of my lovely friends and colleague Carol was in Toronto a week or so ago for a course. She was wandering the city, probably looking up as you do in a big city, and a car pulled up to the kerb. She watched two women get out of the car, looking very excited. Imagine her surprise when one smiled at her, gave her a chocolate and wished her happy 40th anniversary. As Carol wondered, the lady told her it was the UAE's 40th anniversary. Imagine her surprise when Carol told her that she worked with someone who used to live there. So Carol resisted the urge to eat the beautifully packaged, with a bow, chocolate and brought it home for me. It has pride of place in my fridge at the moment and I smile whenever I see it.
Happy 40th to all my Emirati friends!

You know when....


Caitriona Ni Fhiannachta, a friend of a friend on Facebook published this.

You know you've been living too long in the Arabian Gulf when
:

  • You're not surprised to see a goat in the passenger seat
  • When phrases like 'potato peeler', 'dish washer', and 'fly killer' are no longer household items but are actually job titles
  • 
You need a sweater when it cools down to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • You expect everyone (over 4 years old) to own a mobile phone
  • Your idea of housework is leaving a list for the maid
  • You believe that speed limits are only advisory.
  • You expect all police to drive BMWs or Mercedes
  • You believe that the definition of a nanosecond is the time interval between the time the light turns green and the time that the guy behind you begins to blow his horn
  • You can't buy anything without asking for a discount
  • You expect all stores to stay open till midnight
  • You make left turns from the far right lane
  • You send friends a map instead of your address
  • You think it perfectly normal to have a picnic in the middle of a roundabout at 11pm
  • You know exactly how much alcohol allowance you have left for the month
  • You never say Saturday instead of Friday or Sunday instead of Saturday
  • You accept that there is no point in asking why you are not allowed to do something
  • When you expect queues to be 1 person deep and 40 people wide 
  • You realize that the black and white stripes in the road are not a zebra crossing, just bait to get tourists into the firing line 
  • You carry 12 passport size photos around with you just in case
  • You overtake a police car at 130 km/h. And don’t worry about it
  • A problem with your car AC or horn is more serious to you than a problem with the brakes
All so very true and made me smile. It reminded me of my original, very similar list I published here. I also miss many of these things. I could also included:
  • You can negotiate a roundabout at speed while talking on the phone and drinking very hot Adnoc coffee
  • The policeman about to ticket you asks if you are married, offers himself as a husband and you consider it for a split second
  • You don't wear a watch because you tell the time by the call to prayer 
  • You think you are under dressed when your elbows are showing
  • You lose count of the kids coming out of the Toyota Landcruiser at the school gate
I'm sure there must be more, some comments from Gulf residents please so we can add to the list. I suspect Ask Ali might enjoy this list. 


Apologies!

Sorry folks, I will write about Honduras before it becomes a distant memory. There will also be photos. For now I'm working long hours with little head space for writing. That will settle soon. The curriculum we have written will be out in use, the professional development will be over for the year and I'll have a nice time catching up next week when most are on holiday. So until then, keep checking and I'll keep working on writing some entries, promise.
A little piece of home in the Honduras rain forest

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Honduras

What a fantastic weekend, fun and adventure, exploration and enjoying the best company. I'm a little tired to write tonight, not sure why after all that relaxation, so here's a photo from the garden at Las Cascadas Lodge to enjoy. Stories and photos of waterfalls, horses, bikes and white water rafting will follow, promise.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Honduras here I come!

Time off work, done; tickets booked, done; hotel, sorted; bags, not yet packed. I'm off to Honduras with Jo early Friday morning, I'm so excited. It will be my first trip to South America, the first of many I suspect. There are a few places where I can fly direct from Grand Cayman, La Ceiba is one of those. An hour or so in the air, a thirty minute drive and we're here.




Four days of activities and relaxation, just what I need. I'm taking my camera of course and a small happy snappy for the adventure shots. Not sure I'd like to take my camera white water rafting, especially given my recent water adventures. I can't wait to get back on a mountain bike, off road, through the rain forest and up hills more substantial than I've seen in a while. Watch this space for more. Best I get the packing done, what does one wear in a rain forest retreat? 

Monday, 28 November 2011

Emirates Winter


Emirates Winter from Lewis De Mesa on Vimeo.


Amazing how much I missed the UAE after watching this, the craziness, the natural beauty and especially Al Ain and Jebel Hafit. Check out the view over Al Ain at 25 seconds and 2 minutes 50 seconds. Enjoy, thanks for sharing Daniella.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Blackberry Stone

I love the way these two make music.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

A rough ride

I had an interesting experience this weekend, one I debated about saying no to. I decided to say yes, I hadn't read the Caymanian Compass before I did. The story I've linked to is an interesting one, two Aussies sailing home and not making it past the Cayman Islands. They were right to seek shelter from the rough seas, not so well executed as they landed on the unforgiving reef.

The unforgiving reef we had to negotiate in Blue Runner a day or so later as we sailed around to George Town to take part in the Pirates Week festivities. I didn't notice any of the wreckage going out. The wind was lovely, not the 2o plus knots promised. The waves were not so lovely, breaking fiercely on the reef. Big swells to break through to get to the open sea. It was tense on board.

A really big wave washed over the boat unexpectedly, we all hung on tight as the boat was swamped. Then another came and I lost my grip, thrown to the back and luckily caught by John who was sitting at the back. The waves washed over us, soaking us and filling the cockpit. Now Blue Runner is a J37, a rather large yacht that has been Bruce and his son Alex's home from time to time. Plenty big enough for open water sailing. Luckily more than a match for the waves as we broke through out into the Caribbean Sea.

I was soaked to the skin, a bit battered and bruised, and really pleased to have stayed on board. We rode the swells for a while, really big swells and white water. Choppy and unpredictable with some strong wind gusts. Once I got over my initial fright, it was exciting! Riding the crest and dipping into the troughs, sitting on top and looking down into air before we gracefully rode the wave. It was a bit nerve wracking in places but too soon we were in calm water and heading to our destination, a safe mooring in George Town Harbour.

The cardboard boat race was the draw for Alex, very exciting when you're 8 years old. I got to have a much needed swim and chill on the boat with others where we could watch the race while sampling the refreshments on board and swapping big wave stories. I had tennis tickets, the dingy didn't get back in time. Dinner was next and watching the Pirates Week closing fireworks, amazing fireworks over the harbour. Dancing in the streets followed, good music, good company until we sloped off, exhausted.

Next day was the return trip, I was a little worried. It was a much better sailing day, some exciting waves but not the choppy, unpredictable ones of the day before. Heading towards the reef we saw smelt diesel and saw some wreckage. The Plight, I found out later. It was surreal seeing the boat parts going past in the water, steering around them and looking for people. There were some big pieces. The trip into North Sound was much less eventful, thankfully and we were soon enjoying a beer at the mooring.

I was totally exhausted and slept well that night. My bruises are impressive, and I don't bruise easily. It was funny, one of the crew was from Regina in Saskatchewan. Same place that Mary-Anne is from. It's not that big apparently. He was wearing a Roughriders T shirt and was very surprised that I knew about the team and the place. A great conversation opener. Canadian's are such a nice bunch, very much like kiwis in their friendliness and their travel habits. I've met plenty here, all wonderful people I count as my good friends. 

Musing

I had a read back through some of my old entries and realised how boring I've become, writing not so much of the philosophical musing and more of the doing. As I sit here on a Wednesday evening contemplating my belly button, I was reflecting on times past and what has brought me to this place at this time. I have comments from people who think I'm courageous, Paulo Coehlo says that:

Courage does not mean the absence of fear, but the ability not to let yourself be paralyzed by that fear.


Life, 2007.

Many of the decisions I have made over the past few years have been possible because I moved past the fear and came to a place where, although I was fearful, I could make choices. A choice brought me to this beautiful place and the peace I have found being reconnected with the sea. Feeling at home on and in the waves. I believe that we are all in the right place and space to learn the lessons that life puts before us, right here, right now. It's just not so easy to recognise that at times, that takes courage.

So enough of the musing and onto an adventure. I may just have to pour myself a glass before I start on this adventure, it was surreal. A boat is most surely safest in port, and this weekend was proof positive of this. Of course, that's not what boats are built for.


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Very scary

Now I know how that feels!

J22s at rest
I suspect this Leo has a water sign rising somewhere. I love being out on the water, I love being in the water. Not quite in the way I went swimming on Sunday, in the middle of a race. Unexpectedly, surprisingly. This weekend the weather was great for sailing, the North Sound had a good swell and the wind was mostly over 12 knots. Perfect for racing. On Sunday I raced on Yahoo.

We were doing okay when suddenly Yahoo pitched wildly and tipped over. We were about tack, over we went broaching. The dreaded B word Dave threw about as we sailed to the start. I did tell him to shush. I had very little to hold onto and missed my chance to swim on as the boat righted itself. There I was clinging to the side by my finger tips as we raced on. I managed to work my way around to the back then lost grip and ended up on my own in the water swimming after a fast retreating boat. 

Bruce and crew came around and got me, I managed to reach the side and work my way around to the ladder. Hauling myself up was interesting but there I was like a beached whale puffing in the bottom of the boat. It was not amusing, we were close to a 3rd and ended up at the back. Funnily enough, I had talked to others about the need to wear a life jacket, especially in lively winds. I decided not to on Sunday, it worked okay for me this time. 

After another couple of races we headed in shore to swap tales of racing and impromptu swims, there was a small amount of ridicule but at least I know what it feels like to broach and go overboard in the process. I also heard Amanda's story from the fore deck of being at a 90 degree angle and clinging on to very little to stay aboard. It was worth a rum or two. I was a bit sore, a few new bruises in unmentionable places.

The next day Jo, Didge and I went out again, this time I was fore deck for a while. I need the practice. The weather was perfect, a crew of three not four meant there was plenty of room and we played for a couple of hours. Until my arms ached from setting and gibing the pole, flying the kite and trimming the jib. See how many yachting terms I can fit into one sentence! I'm also not so useless as I was at the jobs that need to be doing. I can almost always manage a bow line knot. It looks odd because I do it back to front the lefty way but it works.

One of Saturday's floats
I had a great weekend, a good mix of fun, entertainment and exercise. I learnt some stuff, lots of lovely stuff and enjoyed the company of my friends. Today the festivities continued in town and Jo and I joined them for lunch. The cruise ships are amazing here, dwarfing the buildings and everything else as they berth just offshore. Two of these giants were in today, a treat for the passengers that George Town was so lively with the steel pans playing, stalls with local crafts and produce and pirates wandering around. All good fun.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Long weekends


It's a long weekend here and the beginning of Pirates Week. Pirates Week is huge here, a festival of music, dancing, parades, fireworks and of course pirates. November 14 is a public holiday, Remembrance Day, and so we have a long weekend to celebrate. What a fantastic celebration on Friday night, the best fireworks display I've seen in a while. Jane got some photos, I wisely left my camera at home. The evening was enjoyable, especially the people watching. It was a late one, lots of walking, eating and drinking.
One of Jane's photos
Saturday, we wandered down again and watched the pirates landing, a load of fun. The pirates poured ashore and we captured by the red coats after a battle. The whole community joined in, the streets and balconies over flowing with people and small children dressed in pirate costumes enjoying the party atmosphere.

Mmmm my photos are not wanting to load, I may add some more of the day's celebrations later.

I need to get ready, off out on the water for a play. After yesterday's racing, I'm a little sore. It was exciting, all will be explained in my next post. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Sailing away

Blue Runner, my first sailing experience here
The whole of Sunday, after a small sleep in, was spent at the sailing club. The wind was fine so we went on a training run with Simon helping with the finer points, well in my case all the points. I know so little and when I'm asked to work on the fore deck, I'm a little lost at times. Simon helped that showing me some useful ways that this small person with limited upper body strength could set the pole and hoist the spinnaker with minimum strain. I'm slow but getting there. It just takes a bit of practice, well lots of practice.

The bonus with Sunday is that I got to do something I am okay at. Jo, Didge and I went out on the Zodiac with Matt. He gave me a camera, a small happy snappy kind of camera. It was okay, there's a better one at the club said Matt. Let's get that. The better one was Nikon SLR, a much, much better one with a lovely long lens. I had fun, Matt drove us up to the good places to take pics and I, well, I took pics. Right in my element hanging off the side of the Zodiac making sure this special camera kept dry in all the spray.

It was such fun, and I'm pleased with many of the photos. Photos of the Lasers racing. The crews are all experienced with two Olympic level sailors so it was fun to watch. The kids joined in, very much part of this group of adults who support their sport. The post race discussions were interesting, no one waved the rule book all good fun. We shared a couple of pans of baked potatoes with sour cream and hot dogs, much needed after a long day on the water.

Close racing in the Laser fleet
I got a little burnt by that hot sun, just on the places where the sun screen missed. I now have an interesting mix of tan lines, brown legs and stripey bits everywhere else. I'm not one to lie in the sun, all my tan is from action so is not so even. I'm not bothered, my friends at work did comment on the really red bits. I promised to take more care next time. And next time is next weekend. I'm on Yahoo again in the winter series. It's also a long weekend here and Pirates Week so lots of fun. Dancing in the streets, parades and fireworks, I'll be there and I'll take my camera so watch this space.

A hectic start

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Simple really

It should be simple really, it was even in the UAE. Posting a few things home was not so simple in the Caymans. My morning went something like this.
At the Post Office:
Do you have posting boxes that I can post to New Zealand?
What do you mean?
You know boxes I can put a gift in to post
No, nothing like that
Okay, where can I but a box to post a gift in?
I don't know. Other customer who happened to be a work mate: Try Kirk Office
At Kirk Office:
After I had searched the posting isle, do you have boxes for posting?
No, nothing like that.
Where can I get a posting box?
Don't know try AL Thompsons, they have boxes
Al Thompsons:
You have these large boxes, do you have any smaller posting boxes?
What do you mean?
You know, small boxes for posting gifts in
No no nothing like that
Where can I buy something like that
Don't know, not sure
So, how do people post things from here then? A little exasperated.
Two ladies shrug their shoulders and look confused that I should want to do such a thing
Phone call to Jo:
Feeling a little frustrated, do you know where I can buy a box to post a few things to NZ in?
Yes (sigh of relief) Caymana Bay has a posting box shop.
Off I drive to Caymana Bay and there is a shop that sells boxes for posting and takes care of all your posting needs. So simple, a one stop shop with excellent service.
Parcel boxed, addressed and ready to go. That will be CI$61 please, that's about NZD90.  A small heart attack later, I pays me money and get the box and envelope on their way. Two to four weeks, Noah will have something from the Caymans to hang on his tree.
I suspect after my next two posting to Australia that I'll mail order all gifts, just may be easier and certainly less expensive.

My day got better, we went out sailing for the afternoon then a swim. The sea is still a little boisterous, a lot of fun.


Friday, 4 November 2011

November surprise

What surprised me today? It's November so it's hardly surprising that a scorpion decided to cross my path today for the first time here. One of us squealed, another put her foot down on said scorpion while the other of us wanted to take a closer look. That would be me. I picked up the squished but still wriggling critter with a dried leaf and took a look. The others were surprised at that. I put it outside while the others completed long shudders. Now if that was a spider.......

Here's some information on Cayman's scorpion populations. I'm not sure what type this one was, it was about six inches long and blackish, a bit like this one:

 


Scorpions

Since Hurricane Ivan, there have been increased sightings of scorpions on Cayman. As the hurricane and rising waters wrecked their habitiats, they have moved to new homes - often those already inhabited by humans! There are three species of scorpion found on Cayman: heteronebo caymanensis – an endemic species unique to Cayman; the most common,centruroides; and isometrus maculatus. There are no records of deaths from scorpion stings in the Cayman Islands, but scorpions should always be treated with respect, as even a non–fatal sting can be very painful. They like dark nooks and crannies - so give your shoes a shake before putting them on!


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Halloween

Opps, I forgot to stop on the way home tonight and stock up on sweets to give the trick or treaters. Halloween is not big on my list of occasions, it's not big in New Zealand therefore slips under my radar. The first lot of kids, a very cute 5 year old and his siblings got my last remaining, my only, emergency supply of dark chocolate. Reluctantly given because although I don't eat much in the way of sweet things, a piece of dark chocolate is what I fancy when I do.

So, I'm ashamed to say, I'm now hiding upstairs so those little ghouls will only find no one home not some lady with no sweets, I did wonder for a fleeting moment what might happen if I said trick, not treat. Do the kids actually have tricks? If so, what are they likely to be. Something I might not like I suspect. I think it might be safe to sneak down now and get something to eat. I kind of fancy a piece of chocolate, yummy dark chocolate.

Oh well, I shall just have to settle for the soup that's heating and hot toast. I've eaten well this weekend. Indian after sailing, Italian on Friday night and a pizza after the movies on Saturday night. There's plenty of variety here. Movies, Jane and I decided to go to a scary movie on Saturday night. The Dream House shorts were scary, the movie a mind bending experience. A thought provoking movie, I did miss a couple of bits when I hid under my pashmina. Jane laughed at me, I was just cold, alright.

We sat outside enjoying the kids playing in a fountain at Caymana Bay, a lovely development with boutique shops, bars and restaurants as well as the cinema and places for folks to hang out. I like it there, a very relaxed atmosphere. We were enjoying the music, Jane asked about the play list. It came from the managers i-pod, we realised why we liked it when we started singing along. Fat Freddies and Shapeshifter were key players. We laughed as we had a small taste of home, so far from our place. 

Monday, 31 October 2011

Some more beach shots

I'm about to head out sail, racing again on Yahoo. I'm a little worried about the weather, yesterday it was flat then kicked up in a stormy patch. It might be a little exciting today. We are still getting a back lash from Rina, rain blowing in with fine patches between. Lets hope that there's plenty of fine patches this afternoon. 

Looking along the beach in dying light


Waiting for a golden wave 


Friday, 28 October 2011

Rina

We've had some interesting weather lately, lots and lots of rain, thunder and lightening and a cooler breeze. This is thanks to Rina, a category 2 hurricane that's causing havoc in other parts of the Caribbean. The ocean swells here are really quite impressive, especially as they crash against the iron shore. As George town central is on the coast line, it was interesting driving to work and seeing the waves breaking over the road. Yesterday I sat in one of the restaurants and watched as the waves crashed through their parking lot and onto the road, past the doorways of several shops.

I didn't get much in the way of photos then, my phone is not that good for photos, so I went out this evening to the beach across the road. It's usually calm, today the waves were impressive and the surfers were making the most of them. I wandered along the beach, sat and watched a while and took a pile of photos as the sunset lit up the sky. Very beautiful.

There is more bad weather on the way, a tropical storm that will be called Sean if it amounts to anything. That's the one the locals are worried about, it comes straight over the Caymans whatever happens. I suspect that it will develop and we could get a nasty storm. After the last few days, I can now see how the swells can cause the sea to flow over the roads and into buildings. I can see why the locals would be worried. I'm lucky, I work in a building that is built to category 5 ratings and although I'm in living across the road from the sea, I'm hoping if I get anything it will be the wash rather than the full force of the sea.

Tonight I'll sleep with the sound and smell of the sea wafting through my windows as lightening lights up the sky, thunder rumbles and the rain falls. Perfect sleeping conditions. Enjoy these photos from this evening's outing.





Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Wahoo, we won!

Well, what a stressful time watching that game. A good game, the best result but hard to keep still when watching. The evening at Jane's was great, a few drinks, food and friends. Three passionate kiwis, a couple from the motherland, a couple of locals and a Canadian. I suspect the locals enjoyed watching the kiwis as much as watching the game. We cavorted around shouting a bit, sorry to the neighbours, at the final result. Abe decided a haka was due, much to the delight of the non kiwis present. All good really.

So it was a late night, or rather early morning. I spent most of Sunday chilling out, laying on the couch and snoozing. It was pouring with rain and has been for day due to us catching the rain bands of hurricane Rina. There's another one brewing, one that seems more dangerous according to the locals. Anyhow, the rain on the roof helped with the dozing day. I thought I felt an earthquake, then another smaller shake. And it wasn't my imagination, there was a 4.1, small one on Sunday.

I talked to Tim, Sarah and Noah on skype for a while. They were outside replacing pavers with grass, the sun was shining, Noah was 'helping', spring time in New Zealand. Labour weekend. Sigh, after watching the rugby hype and seeing the kids I must confess to being a little homesick. Noah is at such a lovely age, chatting with grandma and showing me his toys. He's getting quite chatty and seems to understand the concept of flat grandma, I get a kiss for goodbye too.

Eve is also great on skype, scooting over to touch my face on the screen. She smiles and chats too, 6 month old chat. She's grow heaps since I last saw her, still has beautiful big blue eyes. I'm not going home at Christmas, only the second time I've spent this away. I am heading back for some good time at the end of February for Noah's second birthday so will get cuddle time with them both then, can't wait.

Here's the fireworks, the people enjoying them and some local culture, sigh I do miss home at times.


He aha te mea nui o te ao? 
He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!

What is the most important thing in the world? 
It is people! It is people! It is people!


Sunday, 23 October 2011

Finals night!

Is 8pm too early to go to bed on a Saturday night? It sure is when you've got to be at Jane's at midnight to heat up the pies! Yep, it's finals night, yep there will be a few at Jane's watching the game, eating pies and drinking beer. Tui's? Yeah right! I'm afraid the best we can do is Heineken, that's okay though. I'm not sure how much I'll feel like beer and pies at 3am, promise not to let the side down.

Nick's in Auckland hoping to get a ticket. I'm sure he'll enjoy where ever he watches. So it's just the waiting and the getting a small amount of beauty sleep. Not so good when I need all the help I can get. I had a late one last night too. Friday happy hour/s, then to a play. Funny just how culturally contextual things are. 2 Can Play was set in Jamaica and was the story of a couple whose kids had gone and who wanted to follow them to the USA to live. It was face paced and needed subtitles in places for this New Zealand English speaker. I got the gist as it went along, it was funny.

Another treat I've enjoyed this past week or so is going to the movies. I bought the book The Help at the Cardiff Railway Station on my visit to the UK with Sarah. I was catching the train to Antwerp, I chose a great companion. It's a story of the South, a story of a group of silent women who were brave enough to speak out and one person who was brave enough to tell their story. It made me laugh, it made me cry but mostly it made me believe in good people and friendship. It's a must see and faithful to the book.

I really must get some sleep if I'm going to make the game..... procrastinating!


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Inspiration

Sunset Cayman style
A friend asked me if I was too busy or if I had run out of inspiration, a good question to reflect on. As I feel  more and more at home here, I consider those special moments I usually write about to be a part of my everyday life. I am also really busy at work, in a good way. I do have times when I'm inspired, take this evening.

I went to the dentist, not such good news but then it's been a while, so I came home a little earlier than usual. In daylight. I decided to go for a run, the heat was retreating from the day and the evening was beautiful. The road is hard with lots of traffic so after a while I spotted the kite and wind surfers out on South Sound. No excuses needed, off I went to the beach. I wandered along, it was very windy and the usually calm inlet had nice waves crashing on the shore. The surfers were flying along.

The smell of the sea was blowing in on the wind and the beach was deserted except for some small boys playing in the sand. I wandered along enjoying the peace and wishing I had taken my camera, not ideal to pack when running. Looking towards the setting sun, I could see the clouds lit up with an orange glow, a background to the palm trees bending in the wind. Yes, I really am living in paradise. Yes, I do need to find more time to enjoy it and feel inspired to write more often.  

Monday, 17 October 2011

Haka



Wow that was quick in being posted on YouTube. This is what I mean by the haka, a traditional war challenge to our foes. It was used to scare the opponents, I must say some of the Aussies looked a little intimidated, and to fire up the team before the game. It worked. I did wonder what was going through the New Zealand and Pacifica plays in the Australian team, it must be a bitter sweet moment being challenged by your own. Maybe that's what put Quade off his game.

I was also reflecting on the first World Cup as I watched the faces of this young team, many of whom were born post 1987. My kids were keen players then, all playing in age grade rugby. It was what we did on the freezing cold winter Saturday mornings. We watched every game, had our favourite heros. I'm so pleased to see that people have got their kids involved in this one. It seems to be such a different world now, 24 years on. An interesting coincidence that the same teams are playing in the semi finals and finals, may the results be the same next weekend, go the All Blacks!

Rugby World Cup 2011

Phew, we're through to the finals. The royal we, I mean the New Zealand rugby public via the All Blacks. And against the old foes as well. New Zealanders love to beat the Australians at anything, it's a national pass time. I felt very patriotic as I stood beside my bed for the national anthems, especially enjoying the Maori version of ours. I know my neighbours are rugby mad but also know they have been knocked out of the Cup already so may not have appreciated my belting rendition at 3am this morning.

Hence the standing by the bed for the anthems. I was so nervous about this game I slept fitfully and woke at 2.30am so I got to watch the preamble as well. I have missed most of the other games because of the timing, this one I wasn't going to miss. Having no TV, therefore no cable, I downloaded a VPN that had NZ on the country list. My computer is now in NZ, it's 4.45am there. I had been having trouble accessing anything from NZ so now can catch up on all the news plus get live sport, fantastic.

So there I was at 3am, sitting up in bed in my PJs, watching the haka that brought the usual goosebumps, tears tot he eyes, then the game. It seemed a funny thing to do on my own, until Jane text. She was watching at her place too. We had communication through the game, a chat at half time. Next week it will be party time, staying up to watch the game with friends who also might want to. This weeks game was one I couldn't have watched in company, just in case the unthinkable happened.

Yes, it's just a game. It's our game, it's in our blood or our claret as the commentators like to call the red stuff. Actually I had a good laugh at some of the commentators. They were really passionate in their calls and since that's not really a kiwi bloke thing, it does my heart good. There were plenty of references to the bringers of this type of game. The battle in the arena with plenty of blood and the crowd going wild, cheering and jeering and loving to hate the opposition. We just needed chariots and togas. Having been to the odd Roman arena, I suspect today's seats are more comfortable and there were, thankfully, no lions. 

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Working, working, working

I've had a go at posting a couple of times this week, it seems like I can't copy from an email of Muzz's and have it format well enough to publish here. Very frustrating and makes me realise that my problem solving skills are not as good as they could be. Although it could also be the week I've had, or actually the past several weeks. I've become a workoholic again. I know that doesn't spell right but I'm not sure how to spell it in any other way, this made up by the 21st century lifestyle word.

And when we really unpack this oholic tendency as a tendency, it really isn't true. When considering the hours worked by small children in the industrial revolution in dangerous factory jobs, we have life style jobs. I get home after dark most days, done in thinking wise hence the lack of entries, but with plenty of physical energy. I'm not really designed for a desk job, and a desk job I have. That will change, I can make that change. The thing with change is that one has to set the change so there is out and about time. I can do that, I'm sure.

The other thing with the change process is that the change has to happen at a level where if there is 10 schools or 10000 schools it is the same. The processes have to be set up the same and take the same time and energy. Change is a process, we are down the track a bit now, it's going well so I'm told so all is well in my world. I'm totally loving the stimulation and multitasking this job requires, exhausting but fulfilling. It totally makes my day when one of the teachers I'm working with comes up to me in the supermarket for a chat, that happened today. She was surprised I remembered her, she is just what I must remember. We chatted a while then went off our separate ways, me with a big smile.

I totally love this place, there's a lot to love. Laying in bed listening to the rain and watching the light show outside while the thunder shakes the house; warm rain, wetting rain; splashing through puddles to get to the car; going to a cafe having excellent espresso and buying the best bread; discovering big bags of frozen berries for my morning smoothies; talking rugby with the Irish, Welsh, English, Americans, Canadians, French Canadian and of course my fellow New Zealanders; sailing in the North Sound; walking around the canals looking at the flash houses while getting some exercise; Sunday relaxing and family time, not shopping; friendly folks who greet you with a smile; excellent eating places like Casanova's  where they play the best music; places to dance like Royal Palms; swimming in the warm sea; snorkeling with the colourful fish music in the clear water; a good shoe shop with 3 pairs that worked for me; good friends, excellent company; movies without subtitles; all this in the last week or so.

Tempted to visit? So you should be.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

A catch up

You know you've been quiet when your mother tells you that there's not much on your blog. I don't seem to be getting a lot of time at home lately. Which is a good thing in most ways. Work has been taking up time in a way it hasn't for a while and I'm enjoying the challenges and most of all the lovely people I'm working with. My work is all about change and that's not something that comes easily for most of us. It's working here because I have an awesome team.

There has been plenty happening besides work. I think I'm getting over the RSI from the Miami trip. There's only so many times one can swipe a card without causing major strain injuries, then there's carrying those heavy shopping bags. My wardrobe is looking quite full and I'm going to have to release some clothes and shoes into the wild very soon, or buy many more coat hangers.

I really liked Miami. There's heaps to do and the food was great. We ate at the Cheesecake Factory at Dadeland a couple of times. The menu was one where I could have eaten all week and the Margaritas were fantastic. Dadeland Mall was the shopping destination, that and Designer Shoe Warehouse. Here's a few of their offerings. I love the heels, I've added a few pairs to my collection.

Jo shops like I do, except she has more stamina. We breezed through the shops, she knew the best ones, took a pile into the fitting rooms and quickly decided the yes, no and maybes. Quick check with each other then off to the counter. We made some good selections, some were the same selection. More on that later. We shopped until I dropped and needed food, I'm not nice when I need food and my new shoes were hurting. Off we went and found a fantastic little Italian restaurant, lovely home cooked food and a nice Chianti.

The bar at the hotel was shut when we got back so we decided to sample the small bottles of cocktail mixers we had bought earlier in the day. I had gin, what more could we want. Well reading the instructions might have been useful. I found ice and mixed the drinks. The first two were great, the last one was blueberry. And blue it was. Blue tongues and small blue mustaches, mine was still there in the morning. In the morning, armed with the instructions, we found that the stuff I stirred in was supposed to be used to rim the glasses, oh well!

We had a car in Miami and cruised around a bit, we also had a satnav. Not a particularly good one, she was a little slow in telling us when to turn and I could here the exasperation in her voice as she had to recalculate the route many times. The car was a treat, an upgrade at the counter then another in the garage meant we had a Volvo with leather seats and heaps of pep. Fun to drive. The weekend ended too soon, next time we'll stay another night and head out on a road trip rather than shop so much.

The next installment should be soon, stories of sailing and Muzz's trip to France and Spain. Watch this space. Right now I've got a Skype date with Noah, the highlight of today.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A little jaded

Is 8.57pm too early to go to bed? I'm trying to keep myself awake a while longer as I know I'll sleep a bit then won't get much more. And sleep is what I need. It's been a hectic few weeks with sailing, a shopping and eating trip to Miami and work. Nope, I just decided a bit after 9 is fine as a bed time so off I go. I promise to write more later on the Miami trip. Here's a photo of some of the 23 items of clothing and all of the 5 pairs of shoes I managed to squeeze into my bag. Good thing I took an empty one!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Sailing away

What a weekend, action packed after a strenuous week. After procrastinating out of fear for a while, I said yes to racing on Bruce's boat in the regatta this weekend, I think it was the Governors Cup. I was so nervous, even if I was just to be ballast. That means moving from side to side as the crew do all the work. It turns out that I also got to do some work, as well as hanging out over the side as we flew down the course with the spinnaker in full flight.

Yahoo, the boat I raced on, courtesy of the CISC website
It was a blast, much more than I expected as the winds on the second day picked up to levels that had us all  using our weight to stop the boat from broaching. The racing was tight, we were within shouting distance and shouting did happen. Not where I was with the laid back crew of Amanda, Chris and Bruce. The Cayman Islands Sailing Club is an inclusive place where they welcome newbys like me. The Saturday after match was fun, getting to know some new friends, like the birthday girl Amanda, better and meeting new people.

The racing ended a little early due to the lightening storm so Yahoo took a Sunday sail away from the weather, cruising in around Governor's Harbour looking at the flash houses and their sea transport moored out front. I rather liked one place, would do me for a mansion. Heading back was fun, playing out on North Sound then heading in for beer and pizza. A good weekend out all round. 

Friday, 23 September 2011

Itchy feet

I'm not particularly good at being sick, especially taking a day of work to wallow in it. Today getting out of bed was a struggle so I stayed put and slept on and off most of the day. Must have needed it, just wish my throat didn't feel like it was on fire. I woke at some time and thought that at least I could get caught up on my home stuff, not really. I did get a chat with Di, fantastic to have a catch up and hear about her exciting plans. A road trip was mentioned, not sure how soon I'll be able to get back to the UK or Europe. Road tripping in the Caymans is more like a day trip.



Muzz is off having an exciting trip, in the south of France right now cycling. A real road trip. He's revisiting some of the places we visited on our 2004 trip, I'm very envious. He may spot a few lions. These ones are in Arles, the pic taken in 2008. My 2004 camera went for a swim in Pamakkale so there's not many photos from that trip. All this talk of travel is giving me slightly itchy feet, I do remember my not on a plane for a while comment in July. That was a while ago. Jo and I have a trip to Miami planned, a shop till you drop trip. I'm just looking forward to seeing the sights, although I could do with some new clothes and shoes.

Back to Pamakkale. It's an amazing place, glaring white in the sun with tepid water flowing over natural pools. The minerals hang like stalactites from the pool above, the drips over the years forming mineral towers. People were swimming there, it was hot but somehow swimming didn't appeal. That was until I was looking when I should have been watching and I slipped and fell into a pool. I landed on my camera, it was never the same after that trauma. Walking back to the hotel, I was chatting with an Aussie girl, bemoaning my wet backside when a man ran out of a shop and shouted at me to stop showing him my skinny bottom. He yelled that he liked "bums as big as washing machines"! We were a bit worried until he smiled, we laughed with him. Seems like tourist baiting livened up his day.

So it's work for me tomorrow. Still an enjoyable place to be with heaps to do and the feeling that things are moving forward at a good pace. Then the weekend promises some yacht racing. I was watching, now I'm ballast. I'm not so sure about that, I may end up over board from some of the race stories I've been hearing. Traveling again will come soon, South America my next place to explore. In the mean time I'll think of my traveling friends and family and sigh occasionally, wishing I could join them for at least some of their journeys. 

Monday, 19 September 2011

A visitor

I'm not sure who was more surprised, him or me. Hello, you're an iguana, how did you get in here? I asked him as he looked over at me reading my book on the couch. He wasn't such a big one but had big feet so I'm sure he'll grow into them. We played hide and seek, he won. I had him cornered then he ran over my feet and went in a direction I've not found yet.

I went out for the day, off exploring West Bay with Jane, and when I came home I half expected him to be waiting by the door. No such luck. Jane did check with a local and he laughed when asked how to get an iguana out of the living room. "You chase them out," he said. Yes, of course. Mmmmm where is he now? I'm sure he'll show and I will see signs if he hasn't got some secret exit. Iguana poo is quite large.

Jane and I had a nice drive around West Bay, not getting lost this time, and exploring the roads at the end of the road. There's miles of lovely white sand beaches, definitely a place to revisit for a Sunday afternoon laze. We caught a swim at Cemetery Beach, a lovely spot on Seven Mile Beach. We could see the fish swimming around in the clear water, a lot clearer than last time I snorkeled there. Nothing better than a soak in the sea then a lay in the sun.

Tiki Beach offered gin and tonics, we obliged. Something about a chilled gin and tonic after a hot day at the beach. I dropped Jane off and went to the small reserve near my place to get some iguana shots in the late afternoon light. They were catching the last of the rays high up in a tree, the shot was a bit far for my short lens and the other one was at home. The reserve iguanas come and go and are huge, a bit bigger than my visitor. Back to our game of hide and seek, maybe I should look up. They are good climbers.

The top of West Bay looking out to Stingray City, a lovely secluded beach to revisit

Gin and tonics after a hard day, Jane enjoying the view

Flat out like a lizard, well two sleepy iguana at the end of the day

Pick the '70s album title from the list at this restaurant
A PS to the iguana story. I was chatting on skype when I noticed him up on top of my curtain rail, hiding. After trying by myself to get him down, not wanting to risk a new hide and seek game, I knocked on my neighbours door. Adam looked a bit pale when I told him what I needed, his wife giggled a bit. Seems neither of them are very brave with our green friends! Adam brought his broom, I had the beach towel and we managed to get him out the front door. A clean catch and release! 

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Musical start to the day


Japanese Gravity Marimba Plays Bach In An Ancient Forest




Gilly sent me this via email. I'm fascinated with this, it must have taken hours to get just right. The info on the site:

This remarkably beautiful video, uploaded to YouTube one day before the T?hoku earthquake and tsunami, turns out to be an ad for Sharp’s SH-08C handset. It is, nonetheless, something you shouldn’t miss: in a tranquil forest, a single wooden ball rolls down a stepped wooden ramp, continuously, for two minutes. At each step, it falls and strikes a wooden bar tuned to play a single note of the 10th movement of Bach’s Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147, commonly known by its English title, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. Wait ’till you see how they handle the sustained notes.

Enjoy! 

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Mosquitos

Poinsettia flowers, lovely trees
We have mozzies here. There are mozzies in Haast in New Zealand. They are legendary, they don't compare to Cayman mozzies. I'm usually fairly immune to being bitten, I seldom wear Dimp or Off, but on Saturday I was savaged by the buzzing creatures. I have bites in odd places. They can bite through clothing here, how else did my thighs get so bitten. No smart comments needed from the cheap seats, they are unpleasantly itchy.

Jo and I went to touch rugby and it rained in a way I've not seen rain before. Great sheets of rain that quickly flooded the road and all around. Driving was interesting, aquaplaning along the road with minimal visibility. The mozzies came out in force after the rain. We were talking to friends and swotting each other, would have looked great on YouTube with some appropriate music. Then we went to the airport to pick up a new person. That was like the slapping dance for everyone waiting. I used my new, natural potion for keeping mozzies at bay and where I put that was okay. Where I missed was really bitten. The back of my neck, in my ears and on my nose and cheeks, through my pants. Everywhere. A very impressive effort from the wee blighters.

As the Mosquito Research and Control Unit here say:

The Cayman Islands are famous for their mosquitoes which in the past reached levels that were unequalled anywhere else in the world. In South Sound mangrove swamp in 1971 as many as 600 bites per minute on one arm have been recorded. The record trap catch for one night in the Cayman Islands is 793,103 from a single New Jersey light trap in Bodden Town in 1974. Out of approximately thirty species occurring in Grand Cayman, six can probably be regarded as constituting the main pest species. Mosquitoes, such as Psorophora ciliata, Aedes sollicitans, Wyeomyia vanduzeei, are occasionally reported as nuisance but these tend to be sporadic and short lived problems and are usually highly localised in nature.

The locals tell me that it's been good this year. Most were a little sympathetic. I did feel for the new person who arrived to the slappers waiting for him. We hustled him to the car so we could get out of the mozzie firing line. I suspect he was sufficiently jet lagged to not notice. So another day passes in this tropical island paradise. The rainy season will soon be over. I've quite enjoyed it after the desert years. 

Friday, 9 September 2011

World Cup time!

Just because I'm a New Zealander, people think I'll be interested in the Rugby World Cup. Take the Irish man I talked to at the pool last night. He lives in my complex and is mad keen on watching the cup. He said he was getting up at 3am to watch the first games. That's dedication, I may occasionally stay up until 3am but getting up then, that just may not happen. I was feeling a bit ho hum about it all, thinking it might just pass me by over here. Not so it seems.

As I watched the haka flash and the fireworks then a little of the game, I felt quite patriotic. My biggest problem is that I get really nervous with All Blacks games and remember all too clearly the feelings of dismay, disbelief and many other dis words, after watching the last final with friends over breakfast. I'm not sure I can cope with the suspense. I think that comes from eating, sleeping and breathing rugby for so many years with my father and then my kids. It was what I did, cold rugby fields cheering and supporting was our Saturday outing.

I'm hoping to get to watch some of the games at the rugby club here, it's just down the road and in the meantime I'll catch up on line. I wonder if I need TV? The first time I've been inspired to think about that in a while. Work calls, it's happy hour a bit later. Much needed this week. 

Cockroach moments

A windy weekend on South Sound
I had a cockroach moment tonight that made me laugh and brought back some memories of cockroaches past. There was a rather large one in my bathroom this morning, lying on his back having a rest. I thought he was dying, couldn't quite bring myself to squash him, so off to work I went. Feeling a little bad about not putting him out of his misery. Some might say that a cockroach might not know misery, I'm not sure. The Buddhist in me disagrees.

I got home tonight, went for a run and a swim and came home to the same roach in my bathroom. Still upside down, dead I thought. But no, when I went to pick him up to throw him outside he leaped up and ran all over the bathroom and bedroom with me in hot pursuit. He was fast, I was faster and managed to catch him in a plastic bag. He escaped a few times and ran up my arm, but outside he went eventually. I still have to retrieve the bag.

Now, I've been seen chasing cockroaches before today by Nina and her kids and by other dinner guests in the UAE. It caused a stir and talk of witches then. Georgina and Phillipa looked at me funny for a while until they realised I was just a little different and not really a witchy type. There's nothing wrong with catch and release, even with roaches. I'm just hoping my neighbours didn't see me in my state of undress leaping around the room after said roach. I'm not sure how they feel about witches here.

And this is one of the views on my run, tough aye
About the running, I've realised that I need to do some exercise. My scales are telling tales, I suspect they are stuck on too heavy. I'm enjoying a great lifestyle here with lots of lovely food and drink but my job is more sedentary so it adds up. Jo, Char and I are apparently doing a triathlon on I'm running on Sunday at 7am, quite improbable that I'll be coherent at 7am. Running 1.5 miles might just be a bridge too far, I must learn to say no sometimes. 

Monday, 5 September 2011

Getting a nature fix

The Queen Elizabeth 11 Botanic Park on the way to Rum Point is a bit of a treat. I waited to visit until I had someone to take, Jane was that someone. The web site tells us that:


When Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II opened Grand Cayman’s only Botanic Park in 1994, only the Woodland Trail was complete. In the ensuing years, the grounds have grown and developed into the full fledged Botanic Park that is operating today.

The Queen really must have been perspiring in what she was wearing on that day. It was very sticky there today as Jane and I wandered through enjoying being in touch with nature, wandering through the Woodland Trail amongst the trees keeping watch for snakes and the Blue and Green Iguana, both natives of the Caymans and the largest native land animals. Cameras ready, we saw both. Jane managed a shot of the snake before he slithered away. We both got some good Iguana shots, mostly the blue ones. The only green decided he would join the turtles in the lake as we arrived on their scene.

The mosquitos were biting, the first I've heard here that buzz like the New Zealand ones. And bite they did, taking photos is a bit tricky when slapping the different parts the mozzies are biting. Mozzies are a trial here but not as much as they were prior to intensive spraying in the 1960s. Stories were told over rum punches and Cayman coladas at happy hour on Friday night. I'll do some more investigating before I write too much about this topic but those present assured me that the aerial spraying currently occurring is really necessary. Today I saw their point.

The Woodland Trail is a mile long with varied flora and fauna including some large succulents similar to Aloe and orchids. They weren't in flower and added another dimension to the many textures. I took some texture shots of the native plants that I hope to be able to use as backgrounds to the new curriculum we are writing. They need a little work before that's possible. Below are some of the photos.

The Blue Iguana is quite big and his claws looked fierce, apparently they bite, so we took the photos for a distance as he posed obligingly. Amazing to look into the eyes of such a prehistoric and endangered creature. The crab retreated when he saw us, a soldier crab apparently.

Lovely lily ponds

The endangered Blue Iguana

A hermit crab so far from the sea, what a surprise he was
After melting at the Botanic Gardens, Jane and I ended up at Rum Point for a Cayman Lemonade and a rest in the sun. Tonight I made a curry from the lovely vege I got from the farmers market on Saturday morning. Green curry, yum. I added some yogurt, mmmm that tastes a bit interesting. Opps instead of plain it was vanilla. Not so tasty with curry. The nice crisp Oyster Bay sav I'm having with it made it all okay, yes I can get some of my New Zealand favourites here. A nice weekend, life is good.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Doing a Dorothy

Now wouldn't that be fine, or a beam me up Scotty so I could get to the places in the world where I would like to go and catch up with family and friends. The Cayman's are a distance from most places, not as the crow flies it seems but as planes fly. Via airports and stopovers, making journeys a mission. One day the technology will exist I'm sure. Skype is fantastic, I get to see Noah and Eve most weekends. It's not quite the same as the touch and smell and real cuddles.

Living in this paradise has it's limits, mostly the limit of missing family and friends. Four months on, and one trip to the southern lands later, I'm still loving it here. My job has plenty of challenge as well as successes that make it all worthwhile. These can be the simplest things like someone saying thank you for something you have done that makes their life a little easier. That happened today and motivated Renee and I, put a spring in our step as we processed applications for support.

I've made some fantastic friends who keep me occupied so I don't get too homesick. This week has been one where I've missed everyone a lot for some reason. Reflection time. Tonight I got some much needed exercise. Jane's condo has a 25 metre pool so we did some lengths. Jane worked on refining my breathing and stroke so it was more like swimming and less like controlled drowning. It was much smoother and more enjoyable. We both had mozzie bites on our foreheads, swimming after dark is not that advisable at this time of year.

I have taken some photos lately and just have to sort the existing ones on my Mac so I can add more. I have a very large external hard drive and have to remove some to there. Maybe this weekend. I will publish some soon, I promise. Here's one from Dorothy and Toto just before their wild ride to another place, thankfully Hurricane Katia seems like she will take her wild ride somewhere else.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

On rain and hurricanes and getting lost

And rain it did today, no hurricanes yet thankfully. I watched with interest the track of Irene and was very thankful when she veered off after hitting Puerto Rico and went north. Thankful in a selfish way, my thoughts go out to all those who were affected so badly. Our turn will come apparently. It's still early in the season here and being now up to letter J, does not bode well.

Today's rain was very heavy, sheets of big drops plummeting from the skies and pooling on the road. We could see the raining coming, it was on us soon after the skies blackened. On Sunday we were out sailing and a short sharp storm hit, thunder and forked lightening and strong winds. We made a run for the dock and got in before it hit, it actually went around us so we didn't get as much as the rest of the island.

I got lost because of today's rain, too busy watching the puddles and not watching where I was going. Soon the landmarks looked less than familiar. Should the sea be on that side? I wondered. Mmmm nope, but I have seen most of West Bay now. Renee kindly gave me directions to get me less than lost while laughing at this Polly Anna who didn't get directions when she left the office. There was a blond comment made much to the delight of my other colleagues.

It's yoga time now, I can't wait. My body needs to bend and stretch and last week was a crazy one so I missed my usual class. This week is going to be a better one as we embed much of the work undertaken in the past 4 months, hard to believe I've been here that long now. This week I plan to exercise most days, the good living here is taking it's toll on my waist line so I need to. 

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Busy!

I'd been wondering why I've not been writing lately then I thought about what I've been doing in the past few weeks. It's been hectic at work, hectic in a way work hasn't been since I worked at the Open Poly at the end of a semester, marking while writing new courses and dealing with students. There's a high level of multi tasking and decision making, I'm having to get used to that again. My brain has worked so hard that I've not got much brain space for anything by the time I get home.

And then there's my after work things. I work late most days, essential while establishing systems. Monday evenings I have yoga; Tuesday night is quiz night; Wednesday's Jo and I have planned to do stroke and stride but have not managed to leave work in time to complete this mini duathlon; Thursday is either spin or swimming and then there's happy hour on Friday. Weekends are similar, sailing, swimming and today my first game of touch rugby for many years. So I'm turning back into sporty spice, all good for my energy levels. I love the outdoor lifestyle here.

Take today. There's an influx of new teachers on the island. We took a group out for happy hour, got chatting and made friends with two in particular, one from Ireland and one from Canada. Jane has also arrived, fantastic to have her here, so today we all went to West Bay to get Cayman car licenses. It was a fun outing that included coffee and some sightseeing for the new ones. Susie had to move into her new place so Jane, Allie and I did some more sightseeing then went off to touch with Jo. House hunting was on the agenda after that, then another game.

It's really sticky here at the moment, the high humidity increasing the heat index, so touch was exhausting. Smiths Cove was inviting for a cooling dip in the ocean. We're just home from a lovely dinner, almost time for bed. Sailing is the plan for tomorrow plus a pool party and dinner at a friends, all go, all good. I'm hoping to do some back stories soon to catch up on travels I've not written about including an excursion into a part of the world I wasn't supposed to while living in the Emirates. That's another story for another day.

The photos are from Keri, chilly scenes from Christchurch's big snow. I'm pleased I'm on this side of the world at the moment. Thanks for sharing Keri!

Keri Granger: Snow of 2011, Christchurch NZ

Love the light in this shot