Monday, 30 May 2011

Wow!


Abu Dhabi - 2011 (ver #3 FINAL) from Beno Saradzic on Vimeo.



Abu Dhabi, then and now. Very hard to believe all this has happened in only a generation. Thanks for sharing Brian. I'm really enjoying going around visiting my favourite blogs, catching up, on this peaceful Sunday morning. Also enjoying cinnamon raisin toast with my tea. 

Sunday, 29 May 2011

An excellent day

Midnight, time for bed. What an excellent day, one that could be my happy place for a while. I slept in so thoughts of the farmers market and the breakfast invite went out the window. The sun was streaming into my bedroom so being out the window was a really good option. After a restful breakfast and a little cleaning, Jo and her dad arrived.

She was taking Mayhem out for a sail, yes please I'd love to come. It was really hot here at 10am, hot and muggy so we had quite a sweat up by the time Mayhem was launched and we were heading out into the channel that leads to deep enough water. Once out, we sailed around in the relative shelter inside the reef. I was the main sail trimmer, we all had a job. It was a first for me, the other times I've been out I've been a decoration or more likely ballast. It was fun, especially as the wind picked up and there was plenty to do. We tacked and launched the jib, getting the lingo right, and off we went.

Jo was very patient, the ropes are different colours so she told me which ones to pull, where and when to pull them and why so I was learning what to watch for. Did I mention it was fun? I love being in and on the sea, luckily this time we stayed above the waves and made to safely back to the Yacht Club for a nice cold one. We certainly needed it, hot work that sailing. Hotter still cleaning and stowing Mayhem safely.

By the time I got home I was a bit burnt, a bit dehydrated and sticky from the salt spray and hungry. Got the food and drink done and then managed to catch Noah and Tim on Skype. He is such a cool little boy. He knows how Skype works now so we managed a bit of a chat and he showed me his truck and other toys. He's so active, running everywhere and really busy. Oh and did I mention very, extremely yummy.

After a swim in the complex pool, I headed off and got some groceries, not usually a favourite occupation of mine but this time it was okay. The local mangoes are ready so I got a few along with some cherry chocolate and orangeade in an interesting bottle. Okay so I like impractical shopping in a supermarket that's still a novelty. I wandered home, poured a cold one and Skyped with Kez, Sasi and Eve. She's a bit little to understand, 3 weeks now. So small and gorgeous.

Then I got Nick, the trifecta. So I've talked to all the kids and Lyn and Kerry at Burleigh Heads as well so a very good day. I can't wait to go and visit everyone in person. I fly to Brisbane on June 9 to meet my new granddaughter so not long to wait. For now, I best get to bed. I'm off snorkeling tomorrow at Cemetery Beach with my new kit, weather permitting. 

Differences

There are some subtle and not so subtle differences between the Caymans and the UAE. The first and most noticeable is the pace of life, particularly the pace of driving. There are speed limits, no speed cameras but policeman who actually pull up cars who are speeding. I've seen one or two already, mufti cars with flashing lights. I smile my virtuous smile as I drive past, whew. I'm used to driving slowly so can now be judgmental. Well, I've slowed down heaps here partly because I have a 1100cc 4wd so it doesn't like going too fast and I'm not ever in too much of a hurry anyway.

I began writing this the other night, got tired and sloped off to bed. Now I resume on a Saturday night, a peaceful Saturday night as I wait for the kids to come online so we can skype. It's wonderful having the internet again. So back to the differences.

Sundays are certainly different. I have the day off, so do most of the people here. Most places are shut. Places like home ware stores and supermarkets, clothes shops and bottle stores. So one must be organised and get everything that's needed on Saturday. Needless to say the supermarkets are busy then, although not if you go at dinner time as I've discovered. Trouble is I do end up spending more then.

Sunday is a day of rest, a day families and friends get together at the beach or at home to enjoy a break. First of all they go to church, a big part of the island culture. Some one told me that there are more churches here per head of population that anywhere else in the world, I don't doubt that. The amount of places of worship astounded me when I drove around the island, small places and large places and, as it was Sunday, places that people in their Sunday best were attending in droves.

That's another difference here, different from most places in the world I suspect. The sense of community, everyone knowing everyone else and enjoying that. Take last Sunday. I was invited by one of my lovely colleagues, and I never refuse a social invitation, to go boating on Sunday afternoon. What a treat, a boat load of lovely local women plus a couple of men,  well someone had to drive. They packed on board enough food and drink to feed and water the multitudes.

And multitudes there were. It was one of those, I wish I had my camera moments! I'm sure my description will not do it all justice. There were about 40 boats of all shapes and sizes just off Rum Point in the shallows, all anchored near each other. The people from the boats all got into the water which was between waist and chest deep and off they went catching up with each other, glasses and food in hand. It was fantastic, a regular Caymanian event that I felt privileged to attend.

I had a great time, meeting lots of new people and enjoying the heat and the water. There were stingrays swimming amongst the people. They took no notice, I'm afraid I did take notice much to the amusement of those around me. As I squealed a little and raised my feet in panic they laughed. I wanted to climbed up on the tallest person there but luckily resisted that urge. The advice was to keep my feet on the ground, stay calm even if they rub up against you and don't be holding squid or have the smell of squid on your person. That's when they will chase you, nope think I may just be able to avoid that state of affairs.

I had a fantastic day out, returning home a bit sunburnt and very tired. Not sure why, I'd done pretty much nothing all day. This weekend has more treats in store and I'll write about them soon. I need to download the few photos I've taken so I can add some here. My camera has been very quiet as I'm spending heaps of time at work, a necessity as I get to grips with my new job and some of the outings I've had have not been camera friendly.

Oh, another big difference. Everyone here speaks English. And the Caymanian dialect that I haven't got to grips with yet and many speak Spanish. English is the language most communicate in. That makes a huge difference. Take getting the internet on. A nice young man called me, yes I can come home in 5 minutes. He chatted away to me telling me all about his daughter and his love of travel as he not only activated the phone line and therefore the internet but also gave me an adapter so I can use both the net and a phone. Useful in hurricane season apparently.

Hurricane season, that's a whole other story. One thing that's not so different is the wonderful welcome I've had from the people here, expat and local. I've been made to feel very at home and have some good friends already. Another other story.
           

Friday, 27 May 2011

I'm back!

Well, I think there should be a group called IA. Internet Anonymous sort of like AA only for internet addicts. I'm sure I had quite severe withdrawal symptoms, I suspect my friends here and there were sick of my moaning despite making sympathetic noises. Now I am connected, at last and so quickly. I'll write some more soon, a catch up on a few weeks but for now I need to get dinner, a celebratory dinner. Watch this space!

Monday, 16 May 2011

And some more


12.5.11
My horoscope said that I would have someone watching over me today, so very true. It’s a feeling I’ve had often here, that warm feeling of belonging as if I’ve lived here in a past life. This feeling makes it easy for me to commit to life here, to my work and socially.

There are several examples of this, one that I’ve had the Internet for the first few days in my new house. I was grumpy last night that the connection had disappeared, where could it have gone? Tonight I reflected on the timing of my access to this connection. I had access the first weekend in my house when I needed to talk to family, my first chill out Saturday.

I talked to friends in the UAE in the morning then New Zealand and Australia family in the afternoon and evening, just what the doctor ordered. Most importantly I had the Internet on Sunday night, Monday afternoon Brisbane time so I could meet Eve, the newest arrival in our family. I only had a short visit and am looking forward to more. So the Internet connection served it’s purpose and now I have to get my own arranged, a job for tomorrow. Let’s hope they can have it on for the weekend.

Late this afternoon, after work, I went to the beach. I went for a swim. I was alone, the beach was deserted and I got in treading carefully over the coral and rocks the litter the bottom of this swimming beach. The water was sublime, my cares melted away my stress dissolved and I was able to totally relax. As I dog paddled up and down, quite close to shore, it struck me that I was alone and that no one knew that I was swimming at the beach.

I ended my swim and went to the shore with Jo’s words in my head, “I don’t swim alone, especially on dusk”. Wise words. I know my local beach has people there, surfing the small break on big boards or swimming or walking their dog or just enjoying the view but these come earlier in the evening, late afternoon. I wandered along the beach for a bit, watching the sun sinking lower and lower.

Being in the tropics, the door slams shut on the day in much the same way as in the UAE. I wandered back to the exit nearest my place so I didn’t get caught in the dark and sat to watch the sun sink into the sea. The sunsets here are beautiful, the sun a fiery ball lighting up the clouds and sparkling on the sea.
I noticed a seat, one not with a private property sign like so many seats along the beach. 

The plaque read: In loving memory of John………….who loved to watch the sunset……..

This was a memorial a place to a man obviously loved by his family, a man who loved this place and the sea, a man who I initially pictured as an elderly man making his way each day to sit and watch the sun sink into the sea with a sigh. Not so. I read the plaque more closely as I departed. John was a little younger than me when he died in 2001. A short life, well remembered judging by the current collection of conch shells and coral decorating the edge of his seat area. I’m sure someone will share John’s story with me as I sit on the seat his family made to honour his memory, if they allow I’ll share it here.

Catching up or reflections on my new place

11.5.11
I so wanted this date on my blog! No such luck. I’m struggling to get access to my blog. The work computer’s setting won’t allow me to access from there, I have no internet at home now. That story is below.

This is the date I write about work. I love my new job, I enjoy the challenges involved and my ability to work at a higher level than I have for a while. I especially enjoy my team, three women dedicated to the improvement of early years education in their community, women who know the successful future of their culture depends on providing a quality education system for their children. It’s motivating to work alongside them to achieve this, motivating that they are so keen to get started. The time is right.

Working with them I felt the ripples of history. My history, my herstory. I have plenty of dejavue  moments, I feel like I know these women so well, know their stories as they raise their families while making change within their community. Next week we make our introductory visits, I’m so looking forward to getting out and about. The plan for change has begun. The context is understood, now we need to motivate others to come on board. The time is right, the people are right. Watch this space. 

Hotspots

I've sitting around home bemoaning my lack of internet when it struck me that I could go out and find a hotspot. So here I am at the local shopping centre sitting on a park bench like a tramp, a high tech tramp not the other type of tramp. Mind you with what I'm wearing one could be mistaken. My old shorts and a much older top, courtesy of Callie I seem to remember.

Anyhow, my lovely setting that I had for the first few days in my house went away, never to return. Sigh, that BlackBerry thingy that work gave me is no great shakes for me. I like a bigger screen, more access but it's been great for reading emails. While I've been waiting for my connection, just getting time to make a trip Lime the provider here, I've written a few notes that I will copy and paste in the next entry. Dated so my thought patterns don't seem too crazy. Above is a photo of my car on my trip to Rum Point, one of the smallest ever 4wds I'm sure. I had one of my coworkers offer to buy it off me the other hay, seems it is really economic and the price of gas..... 

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Welcome to the whanau

We have a new addition to our whanau, our family, Eve Francis born 9 May 2011, a beautiful daughter for my youngest son and his lovely partner. I met her via Skype in the early hours Cayman time and hope to see more of her soon. Mum and dad are doing well. Welcome Eve, I can't wait to meet you in June. 

Monday, 9 May 2011

A Sunday drive



I decided to go exploring a bit this morning. I had had a lovely restful day yesterday and had heaps of work to do so decided to procrastinate for a while. I drove out to North Side via East End, a scenic trip along the lovely coastline of Grand Cayman. I stopped at Pedro St James, an historic site and close to one of the houses I was interested in before I arrived here. The top photo is from the coastline at Pedro St James, iron shore with unforgiving and jagged rocks. The house I looked at is one of the ones in the distance, isolated and too close to the waves as they crash onto the rocks but a very beautiful spot.

The Island is quite diverse with mangroves and some relatively open space in the middle and different shorelines from the rugged iron shore to brackish water inside the reef to white, coral sand beaches. I spent some time at Rum Point on the one pictured, lazed a bit in a chair with my book then had a swim or two. I drove home the shorter way via Frank sound, cutting through the middle and going in to check out Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park. I had hoped it would be like Vic Park in Christchurch, a place I'd be free to wander on my bike but no such luck. It is very beautiful and the home of the rare Blue Iguana. I will revisit for a longer stay later.

I saw a huge iguana on my first day, about one metre long including a very long tail. He looked at me, I looked at him wishing I'd had my camera, then he quietly departed. Today I was on the look out for iguana, imagine my surprise to come home and find this smaller one on my door frame. He was very green, very beautiful with his long tail. I'm hoping he's dining on the ants I keep wiping off the bench. A gecko ran in yesterday, shimmied up the wall and then disappeared. I'm not sure where he went but I'm happy to have him so long as he keep the bugs under control.

The drive was uneventful and I've learnt that the open road speed limit is 50 mph or 80 km and most of the island has a limit of 30 mph or less in places. A nice pace of life, one where I could sightsee as I drove on the quiet roads. The other thing I noticed was how many churches there are here, all full with Mothers Day services today. There are also cemeteries along the coastline. Someone who has been here awhile said this was because the land directly on the beach was not valuable given the storms that come.

The local people were sensible, they had free access to as much beach as they wanted so the plots fitted with the lifestyle. Today I was bemused to see many 'private property', 'no beach access' signs and wondered how the locals feel about the locking up of their coastline. Many of these properties were locked up with storm shutters closed, who would know if I slipped across to the beach from there sometimes. 

Sunday, 8 May 2011

A quiet Saturday

I needed a quiet Saturday, everything has been full on for the past few weeks. I'm now in my new house in Southern Skies, very nice to feel settled after living out of a suitcase. My stuff from the UAE has arrived on the island after a big delay after BA embargoed goods from the UAE. Not sure why or why they accepted my freight and then left it there. I'm not very impressed. Apparently it had to be rebooked with some other carrier, got stuck in Paris, not a bad place to get stuck really, then held up in Miami. Apparently customs here have to check everything, that's the latest delay. Monday I should be able to unpack? One would hope. I'm missing my teapot.

Having no goods arrive has caused a few problems. I've had nothing to wear. Not a nothing to wear, might need to buy something even though the wardrobe is full, nothing to wear. A genuine there are no clothes for this climate in my bag, nothing to wear. I bought some long shorts on my first day with my limited Caymanian dollars and I've lived in not quite professional enough to wear to a new job clothes ever since. Luckily I'd packed two pairs of presentable trousers and a couple of cardigans.

I had bought a lovely cocktail dress before I left, knowing that there would be functions for me to attend. I attended one of those last night, a black tie affair at the Ritz. It was a lovely night out, in a borrowed dress. Luckily I had one pair of flashish shoes and Jo had a dress that fitted me. It was a really nice, high necked long number. The Caymanian women love to dress up, love a good do according to the lovely Jennifer who sat next to me. And dress up they did, beautiful dresses and shoes, updos and the works. My cocktail dress would have been okay, the gold one more suited. Well, if I'd had the choice of these. Maybe Monday. There is a saying here that is about all in good time, I laugh when I hear it.

Sorry, went out today to get my hair done so didn't take my camera. I'm off on a round the island drive tomorrow so photos will follow, promise.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Moving day

Today I got the key, tomorrow I move in to 6 Southern Skies. Very appropriate for this grandma from down under. It's a spacious, two story town house with an upstairs balcony and a nice private outdoor area. All things that sold it to me. I also managed to get a 6 month lease so that gives me time to look around and see what else is out there with no pressure. Like most places, the real estate industry is depressed here so the prices have dropped. Good timing on my part, good timing in that it's almost the rainy season so I'll get to experience that and see how the place I'm in fares.

I'm also getting my car tomorrow. All things have been delayed because of the struggle to get a bank account and then getting my pay cheque cleared for use. The ladies at the HSBC bank helped me to get it all organised, with some stress and delays and a heart stopping moment when the machine swallowed up my only source of money, my UAE card. The ladies released the card, I now have an account and could get the money needed to finalise all the deals I had outstanding.

My battery is about to die so will finish this later, internet and power supply permitting.

Monday, 2 May 2011

The market

Traditional woven goods, cup cakes and coffee as well as all the seasonal fruit and vege. What more could I want. I bought red velvet cupcakes and Kim bought carrot with cream cheese icing, both totally delish. Might be my new Saturday breakfast place.

I bought a car yesterday, anyone who knows me will laugh when they see it but it's great for here. A small 4wd, economical and able to get me through the surface flooding that happens in the rainy season. It's been so helpful having people here to ask about what's best. Nothing like local knowledge. i've been made very welcome, making this shifting business not too stressful. I think I've just caught up with myself and that's taken a while. Tomorrow there's work and I'm looking forward to learning more of what's expected. 

Sunday, 1 May 2011

A quick update

I am now the proud owner of four current drivers licenses. Getting a Caymanian one was surprisingly easy, just a queue to negotiate. Having everything in English makes life really easy. The photo is even okay. The young man behind the counter wasn't sure if I was joking when I asked him to take 10 years off in the birthdate area.

I've now moved from the Sunshine Suites and am staying with a lovely family out at South Shore. Kim and Brad are friends with Jo so have welcomed me temporarily into their family. Their son Jon and dog Sulli have been fun to play with. Jon is 18 months old, full of beans and loves to dance. He really enjoyed listening to my iPod, not at all shy of this grandmother. Kim and Brad are also from the colonies, Canadian so some of the good folks.

We went to the beach yesterday, swimming here is lovely the sea is so clear and the air temperature perfect to lay about in the sun. I'm looking forward to not living out of my suitcase and getting me carpets down in my new place. I'm hoping that's all going ahead as there's plenty of room for visitors and it's across road from a swimming beach. We also went to the local farmers market, bingo a place to buy fresh local fruit and vege, herds, fish and yummy cup cakes and coffee. I even got myself a woven Caymanian bag to carry my shopping in. Might just be my regular Saturday morning haunt.