Tossed our sorry asses outta bed at six…me, beloved and Blondie (the daughter), off to cuddle some stingrays (again… for those who don’t remember my prior adventures with a half-blind bitey stingray and would like to know, it’s in the menu for this blog). Stuffed ourselves into still-mildly damp swimming cozzies. Choked down breakfast and got down to the theater with minutes to spare when someone realized she’d left the tickets in the cabin.
Returned to get them. Okay.
Went to get on board the tender to head over…oh crap, someone’s forgotten their medallion. Ugh. Don’t get me started on these medallions. Princess is very impressed with their medallion system, where they give us this larger-than-a-quarter medallion which is electronic and supposedly gives us access to everything. Room key, buying drinks, charging whatever…
Except it doesn’t. We switched rooms around and it was a flaming nightmare. The credit cards for everyone are all plucked up.
So, after retrieving the medallion we made it over to meet the tour. Stingray cuddlin’ and feeding, snorkeling with all kinds o’ fishies, nice lunch on the beach, hooray!!
Oh, maaaaaaan. 20 foot (6 meter) swells – the Grand Cayman authorities closed the stingray island area. The six cruise ships (and the local tour guides) lost a pile of money.
Crap. What to do? Rebooking a tour on the last minute not an easy option, so we grabbed a cab to the turtle hatchery. Quite interesting, but also a bit of a bummer, because we wanted to set them all free…
I know on the one hand it’s painful to see these turtles in captivity, but on the other, they’re raising them to set them free. They’re endangered and this breeding program is designed to allow the population to regenerate. But the poor little devils keep banging against the concrete walls, trying to get away. It’s tough to not want to slip the youngsters into your pocket.
Beloved and Blondie had their swimsuits, so they paid to go for a swim. They didn’t see any turtles in there (supposedly there were) but they saw other stuff. It was good, but for $48, that struck us as a bit expensive. $18 to just tour the facility was also expensive, but a lot less than if we’d paid the cruise ship for a tour.
Actually, the best part was the return trip. The busses on Grand Cayman are not what Americans or Brits would envision them to be.
They’re broken down Super Shuttles with seatbelts rusted into permanent retracted position (don’t bother, this van’s clearly been submerged at least a few times then resurrected, and the belts are original issue…)
Before you say “SUBMERGED?!” This is the Cayman Islands, sittin’ in the middle o’ Hurricane Alley. And y’know, global warming is a myth. So, yeah. These 14 person shuttles have been swimming wit de fishies more than once, IMO.
I know, I know, the best part, your trip musta been hideous, right? No, it was a hoot, on more than one level.
Bus stops exist, but they’re not really a thing. The bus driver sees someone on the side of the road, he whonks his horn a few times. The person wants a ride, they wave. He stops. They hop in. He swerves back into traffic and away we merrily go.
Someone wants off, they shout “Eh, stop ‘ere!” and the driver pulls a hard left (this is a Commonwealth Nation, they drive to the left, my mostly-adopted nephew, the photogenic one, marveled: “the steering wheel’s on the wrong side!”). The person hands over $2CID and hops out.
We paid a princely $3USD each. What was even more marvelous was when we wanted to leave the turtle place, we asked at the desk outside about getting back to the ship, and the man said we can call you a taxi or you cahn tayke de buhs.
“How hard is it to take the bus? Where do we pick it up, please?”
“Oooooh, dere one now. ‘Old ohn.” He lets out a whistle that would wake the dead. I swear to you, our dog, 4,000 miles away, perked up her ears.
Bus? What bus??
He pointed down the street to small van with PUBLIC BUS written on the side with a yellow stripe that was now idling in the middle of the street.
“Go! Go now!”
“You got room for four people to the ship port?”
Easier said than done. We slung ourselves into the van which already held several people, slammed the door behind us and it went teetering along the semi-country back roads as well as the main roads towards Georgetown. It was really quite interesting, as we saw bits of the country tourists would never see.
No narrative, of course – the driver wasn’t into it, he was more concerned about whonking that horn at anyone on the road who might possibly want a lift.
But for three bucks, you can’t beat the ride.