Thursday, March 10, 2005

Grand Cayman and Cozumel

This part of the story won't be as long as the Key West part of the story (at least I don't THINK it will). Although we had fun, our other two stops didn't seem quite as eccentric as Key West. Plus we stayed sober. :-) We stopped at Grand Cayman on March 3 (which incidentally would have been my mom's 66th birthday if she were still alive). I suspect that Grand Cayman would be a lovely place to visit under normal circumstances. But do you want to know how many cruise ships were anchored off the island the day we visited? Ok then, I'll tell you. Eight. Counting ours, but still....8 cruise ships, clustered around a pretty little rock in the ocean that is only something like three miles wide and twenty or thirty miles long. The normal population is around 30,000 people. Each of the cruise ships carries between 2000 and 4000 guests, plus crew, some of whom get shore leave at each stop. You do the math. To say the island was crowded that day is like saying I sort of like shoes. We quickly decided that if we ever REALLY want to see Grand Cayman, we need to fly there, rent a hotel room or condo, and stay inside until about 3 PM when the cruise ships leave, THEN go explore the island. Unfortunately that wasn't an option this time, since we were ON one of the thrice-damned ships. (And does anyone but me wonder how much damage is being done to the natural beauty of the place by dumping that many people on it all at once on a regular basis?? Yikes!) So in the end, we didn't spend all that much time on the island. We wandered down to the end of Seven Mile Beach that was closest to Georgetown and walked on the beach for a little while, but even the beach was crowded. We stopped at a little seaside bar, to sit in the shade and drink cool drinks and cool off and spent some time chatting with a man named Adrian who is from Italy. Or as he said it, "Eeeh-tah-lee". I adored his accent. He's been in Grand Cayman for eight years, working as a chef and promised to fix us a lovely meal if we'd come back sometime without the ship. :-) After that we stopped at one of the Tortuga rum shops and bought a bottle of rum and a package of rum cake, assorted flavors, all very yummy. J took a picture of me with the pirate statue on the porch of the shop. I thought the statue was hilarious because he evidently used to be holding a sword, but the blade was broken off at some point and now he's just holding the hilt, which bears a striking resemblance to something you'd see for sale at a sex toy party. The picture is horrid, but I had to include it anyway. If I may digress for a minute, why did I have to be the world's most unphotogenic human?? Especially since my sister always looks PERFECT in photos. I have an uncanny knack for closing my eyes or talking, or SOMETHING just as the photographer snaps the pic. It's a talent of sorts, I suppose, but couldn't I trade it in for...oh, I dunno...the ability to juggle or something?? After buying our booze products, we gave up and went back to the ship for the rest of the day. Cozumel was nicer...a few less ships and a larger area to hold the passengers of the ships that WERE there. We'd hoped to meet up with some friends who were going to be there at the same time (but not on a cruise) but our cell phones weren't cooperating and we never did manage to hook up with them. Oh well. We wandered around town, mostly looking at silver shops and at some artists that were working and selling their work around a square near the ocean. I bought three rings, a lovely (if conventional) watercolor of a street scene, and my favorite souvenir: a painting on a feather! There was a whole range of sizes, but the ones that really fascinated me were the tiny ones. The one I bought (and I hope the pic shows up large enough for you to see it!!) is only one inch tall, not counting the stem, and one inch wide at it's widest point. The detail crammed into that inch is amazing! There's a whole family who do these feather paintings and sell them on the square. I kind of wish now that I'd bought a couple more and had a grouping of three. Maybe they'll still be there if I ever go back. And that pretty much sums up our shore visits. I'll post a couple more sections about some of the stuff we saw and did on ship, plus the infamous shoe self-portraits. :-)