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.


Tuesday, 13 September 2011


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.