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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Little Cayman 2011

I'm finally writing about my vacation that I took in early July!
Beautiful Southern Cross Club (Owen Island, in the distance on
the right, is where we got married!)
We stayed on the top floor of the green building this time.
Todd and I traveled to Little Cayman on June 30.  Last year, we worked out as a group to come back in 2011, so we were meeting a bunch of friends down there.  Little Cayman has become like Cheers for us - everyone knows us!!  We saw friends as soon as we got off the plane in Grand Cayman!  Our friend Bill was waving from the second floor of the terminal.  We went through customs and then had a beer with Bill and his wife Gerry.  While we were waiting for our puddle jumper to Little Cayman, two more of our friends, Ed and Adele arrived in the airport!  The six of us took the twin otter to Little Cayman, where the rest of our friends were.
The Twin Otter at Little Cayman Airport
We were there for a week, and the scuba diving was, as always, amazing. We were blessed with fairly good visibility and because it's the Cayman Islands, we saw a turtle on nearly every dive.  We had a few shark sightings, two nurse sharks (one swimming, one sleeping) and a reef shark.  No cephalopods (squid or octopus), which made me sad.  Lots of beautiful reef and lots of beautiful fish.

The diving in Little Cayman was just good, awesome Caribbean diving.  Instead of telling you more about it, I'll show you through Todd's photos:
Nassau Grouper

Hawsbill Turtle

Ellen in a swim through

Bill and a turtle

I show off a swell Decorator Crab

Hawksbill Turtle

I'm all up in this turtle's personal space
We watched a presentation from the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) about Lionfish in Little Cayman.  The Lionfish are indeed still there, but the four resorts on the island are currently alternating Thursdays to go out on dives (staff only) to spear Lionfish.  As a result, we got to taste Lionfish!!  I thought it tasted pretty good, not fishy at all, just a firm white fish.

That's me along Bloody Bay Wall

Sailfin Blenny
July 2 was our second wedding anniversary.  We had been planning to have dinner on the beach that night, but instead there was a big event on the island!  It was the Sister Islands Cooking Competition.  The chefs on the island as well as on Cayman Brac all got together to compete against each other. Some big time chefs from Grand Cayman came over to do the judging, and our group got tickets to into the tasting room to try the entries! It was awesome.  There were a ton of Lionfish dishes, so we got to taste it more and more.  I really do think it's great!  The winning dish was a dessert that a group of us shared (it was huge).  Yum, yum, yum.
Team Southern Cross at the Sister Islands Cooking Competition

The cooking competition was held at Little Cayman Beach Resort, which is about a quarter mile up the road.  It's totally walkable, but we ended up piling into the Southern Cross Club van for a ride.  It was pretty funny, since the van wasn't big enough to hold all of us.  We squeezed in, but it was like a clown car.
Clown Car!  By the way, I AM wearing a shirt, it's just a halter top and my
hair is covering the strings...
I didn't hydrate enough at the Little Cayman Beach Resort and ended up with a pretty nasty migraine the next day.  We ended up skipping the morning dives on the 3rd, but it worked out perfectly.  I've been so busy and stressed at home that I really needed some time to just lay in a hammock and relax.
Missing a couple of dives isn't so bad when this is the alternative...

Since we didn't get to have our wedding dinner on our anniversary, we thought we would do it on July 3, but there was another couple having a private beach dinner that night (and it was their last night in the resort), so we decided to do it on July 5.  In the meantime, it was time for the 4th of July!
Me, on the 4th of July

We always have a great time on July 4th in Little Cayman.  Yes, they celebrate US Independence Day there, because there are so many Americans on the island and because, frankly, it is an opportunity to party.  Peter, who owns Southern Cross Club, enjoys pyrotechnics as a hobby, so when the time came, he just pulled up his pickup and started shooting off fireworks on the beach.  We sat on the pier and watched, and it was great!
Ellen and Todd try out paddle boarding
Photo Courtesy of Ellen Tate
July 5 came and it was time for our dinner on the beach.  We did a dusk dive that evening, and just as we were heading back around to the resort, the rain started.  Big, giant thunderstorm.  We made it back to the resort, and I went over to the palapa and stood sadly in the rain watching the nice table and candles that were set up get totally soaked.  We did end up having an absolutely lovely dinner with some of our friends inside.

So, we were down to our very last evening on the island.  We had planned a sunset cruise out on the lagoon, which meant that all of the resort guests were on the barge, with lights, hors d'oevres, beer and wine.  It was a lovely happy hour.  It wasn't much of a sunset though -- the clouds had come out and the wind had picked up.  I was nervous that our dinner would be another rain out.  However, the rain held off and we ended up having a lovely candlelit dinner on the beach.  While we were having dinner, our friends all came out and sang "Happy Anniversary To You," which was so awesome.  We went to meet them on the pier after dinner (as we usually did) and right as we walked up, it started to rain.
Todd and me on the Sunset Cruise during our anniversary celebration.
(The necklace I'm wearing was an anniversary gift from Todd!)

Our group on the sunset cruise, plus divemaster Alycia & Bartender Fernando
(Fernando's first day working at SCC was the day we arrived!)
Photo courtesy of Mike Schmidt
Todd and I sprinted back across the beach as the rain picked up, and headed upstairs to our room.  We had put our scuba equipment on the porch to dry since we were leaving the next day, and we had to grab it up and bring it inside before it got all wet.  While we were doing that, I noticed that Todd had had the staff light a bunch of candles in the room, and they were all around on every surface :)  The lights were on because of the rain and the equipment, but after that was taken care of, I could stop and see the candles.  He's so sweet.

The whole trip was like a whirlwind, where I couldn't believe that it was over so soon.  It was as if we'd just arrived!  We headed home.

We had a little trouble getting in to Baltimore.  We circled BWI for almost an hour waiting for a thunderstorm to pass (I guess the weather we'd had the last couple of days in Cayman was all the way up the coast, too).  The captain came on and told us we were going to maybe need to land at Dulles.  We waited some more.  He came on again, and said we were going to land in Baltimore right then!  Get your tray tables up!  Hurry, hurry!  I turned off my kindle and waited.  We kept circling.  I shrugged and started reading again.  The captain came on and said that there was a microburst at BWI, and we would maybe need to land at Dulles.  Not two minutes passed and he came on again, saying we were cleared to land at BWI.  We kept circling.  I saw the airport get further away.  Sure enough, we were heading to Dulles and landed there a few minutes later.

Now, I thought we'd be stuck there and bussed to BWI (an hour or more drive for those not familiar with the area), as my sister had happen once.  We were at the terminal, but we weren't permitted to leave the plane and get back on.  I then was more worried that we would be stuck for hours.  However, it ended up being only about an hour and then we took off and flew the 15 minutes or so to BWI.  We got home pretty late, but Southwest handled it well.

(We fly Southwest to Tampa, then switch to Cayman Airways in Tampa, and this avoids paying all baggage fees)

It was a great trip.  I love Little Cayman and feel so lucky that we have gotten to visit there five times.  Once again, happy anniversary to Todd - my husband and my best friend.  It's been two wonderful years!

Me, in a chimney

That's me!

Flamingo Tongue

Todd was taking a photo of the structure in the background, called Randy's Gazebo,
but the Groupers (who I always say are like dogs) wouldn't stop getting in the photos.
It was like the squirrel!  

See what I mean?

Divemaster Mike in silhouette 

Gerry and Gumby!
As always, if you love these beautiful photographs, do me a favor and check out Todd's Redbubble site.


lindsay said...

I would love to feel like a local on an island! How cool that you ad your friends are all able to :) so fun. Happy anniversary again and beautiful pics!

Keri @ Blue-Eyed Runner said...

Beautiful pictures! I have been to Grand Cayman and it was also beautiful!

Black Knight said...

Happy anniversary.
That is the paradise! What a pity I live too far and my wife is scared of flying, but that would be my dream-trip.
Beautiful photos, thanks for sharing.

Kate said...

WOW! Beautiful pictures! I would love to be there right now. How cool that you dive! That's another thing on my list of things to do before I die.

I'm so glad you mentioned Bossy Pants on my blog because I've been wanting to read that and I think it would make the most entertaining audio book on the run. :) Does she read it herself or is it someone else reading it?

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