We spent all day yesterday in Jamaica, and we arrived at Grand Cayman this morning around seven o’clock. Since a coral reef surrounds the Grand Cayman Island, large cruise ships cannot dock at the port. We dropped anchor in the middle of the bay, approximately half a mile from the dock, and a tender boat shuttled us from the cruise ship to the mainland.
Leigh and I went SCUBA diving today and it was totally amazing. We only went down about 45 feet, but we both loved the dive. We were right above the coral reef of Grand Cayman and the sea-life was just breathtaking. Fish of all colors and sizes hover around and inside the coral. I hate to use a clichÃ©, but it’s literally teeming with life. We saw a barracuda, a couple of huge sea urchins, and a large, slightly shy, lobster, and loads of fish that I couldn’t name.
After the dive, we ate an early lunch at a little sea-side restaurant that our dive guide recommended. There were so many interesting things on the menu that we ordered a ton of food just so we could try it all out. I had a turtle burger and Leigh had fish and chips. We also ordered conch fritters and fried plantains. Leigh had a super-strong Mai Tai and I enjoyed a Red Stripe beer. We sat on the deck of the restaurant and watched snorklers as we ate. It was pretty nice.
After lunch we browsed through some of the shops in Grand Cayman, and we ended up buying a coconut from a street vendor. He took a large, dark green coconut from an icy cooler, deftly grasped a sharp machete, and proceeded to viciously, but quite precisely, cut into the top of the fruit. He carved a flat base on the bottom and a silver dollar sized hole in the top and then plunged two straws into the coconut. We sat on a bench, watched the ocean, and drank fresh coconut water from our impromptu coconut-mug. After we finished, he cut the coconut in two and let us scoop out the gelatinous coconut meat with a machete-carved spoon.
Several thoughts and anecdotes that are unrelated but still swimming around in my head:
1. Last night, Leigh and I ate at the five-star restaurant on the cruise ship. It’s the only restaurant on the ship in which guests have to pay the bill, but it was well worth it. Leigh had escargot, asparagus soup, lobster tail and filet minon, and I had beef carpaccio, gruyere and candied tomatoes, and a bone-in ribeye steak.
A couple from Houston sat directly adjacent from us and we could pretty much hear their entire conversation. They were quite entertaining. The woman ordered a porterhouse steak. Now, steak aficionados know that the porterhouse is one helluva cut. A porterhouse is actually two steaks in one: on one side of a bone is a New York strip and on the other is a piece of the tenderloin, which is basically a filet mignon. It’s a monster piece of meat. The neat thing about the porterhouse is that you get to taste the delicate flavor of the tenderloins combined with the bolder flavor of the New York strip. The bone simply enhances and mingles the flavors of the two cuts of meat. The porterhouse is a study in contrasts and it’s not a steak to be taken lightly.
So this woman ordered the porterhouse and then was vocally taken aback when the huge piece of meat landed on the table. She made sure everyone in her vicinity knew that she had no idea the porterhouse was that big, despite the fact that the menu and the waitress informed her that the steak was 24 ounces.
And then, here’s the kicker, she asked her waitress for A1 Sauce. The woman actually seemed annoyed that the A1 wasn’t on the table. I’m actually not sure the waitress, who was from Europe, knew what A1 even was. She had to go get the maitre d, and when the maitre d got to the table she simply asked, “Ma’am, is there something wrong with your steak?”
2. While we were in Grand Cayman, we were walking past a street vendor and I overheard this exchange:
Loud, bombastic, American tourist woman: Hey! You carry those coconut bras here!
Reserved, impassive-looking Jamaican woman: Ya might wanna be tryin’ the Hawaiian isles for dem.
And some Americans wonder why foreigners dread American tourists.
3. Despite the fact that they share a common history, Grand Cayman couldn’t be more different from Jamaica. Grand Cayman is clean and elegant and the city clearly caters to high-class tourists. Maybe that whole independence thing was a bad idea for Jamaica. The colony deal is obviously a slice of fried gold for Grand Cayman.
4. If you’ve never tried Red Stripe beer you should go out right now and buy a sixer. It’s like a mix between a European Lager and a Mexican beer. It’s totally awesome. Go. Right now. We’ve gotta get ready for tonight’s formal dinner and tomorrow’s excursion to Tulum, Mexico anyways.
Check back tomorrow for more”¦