My husband jokingly said one day that I could always get a head start of sorts, and write down all the things I don’t like about living in the Cayman Islands so I could read it later when I start to romanticize again and wonder what ever possessed us to move....
Well, for starters, I have to get over the fact that it almost seems politically incorrect to find fault with anything here because the Cayman Islands still conjures up such romantic and exotic images in people's heads around the world. A while back I participated in a conference call where I was introduced as “Brigitte who is lucky enough to be calling in from the Cayman Islands”. No one would ever say “Brigitte who is lucky enough to be joining us from Winnipeg”.... It is very hard to shake off images like that, isn’t it, to the point where I find I have to justify liking Winnipeg whereas I would have to almost justify why I wouldn’t like the Cayman Islands. But I digress.
For the most part, many of the cliches about the Cayman Islands are very true. It’s pretty much always sunny, beautiful beaches are always within walking distance, and judging by my own experience, Caymanians are an exceedingly friendly and relaxed people. It’s still a fairly safe place to live, and you don’t really have to worry about your neighbour suing you because he tripped on a stone in your yard. One reason he wouldn’t sue you because he would be too embarassed to admit that he was not watching where he was going.....imagine that, people actually taking responsibility for their actions. I found this to be a very refreshing change from Canada, I must say.But as my Dad likes to say – there is no such thing as paradise, and even Cayman has some aspects which I struggle with, some minor or not so minor, as well as the foreign and downright quirky ones. And some of the things that make this island so beautiful in most people's eyes can also spoil you to the point where they get on your nerves, which means this is probably a good place to start with
Believe it or not, constant sunshine gets to you. Before we moved here, I used to browse through various forums in which islanders provided advice to people thinking of moving to the Cayman Islands (Thank you Tess!). I distinctly remember one who said something along the lines of “we actually look forward to rainy season because then it is not always sunny”. At the time I thought that was a funny comment to make – I mean, how could you ever get tired of sunshine - but after a year I have a fairly good idea of what she means. I have been known to stand outside in the yard for minutes on end, longingly staring at a lonely dark cloud and watching it go over the house without letting go of even so much as a few droplets. As I mentioned in one of my previous blog entries, after six months of absolutely no precipitation or clouds whatsoever, I was absolutely desperate for rain or even the smell of rain.
Similarly, while I can’t say that I miss Winnipeg-style winters, I do miss the stormier cooler days sometimes – you know, when you can open a window and feel and smell the cool air rush through the house? Other than the odd day in (Caribbean) winter, the only cool air you ever feel is coming out of a little vent in your ceiling, and that pretty much the entire year.
They say this is the island time forgot, but I would also say that you forget time when you live down here because of the lack of seasons that you could use as a guide. When one sunny day merges into the next, it’s hard to remember that you should be unpacking those Christmas ornaments right about now.....and as odd as it sounds, at times it doesn’t give you much to look forward to if every days is glorious sunshine. Of course, during a hurricane, it is very windy, but then the last thing you want to do is to open your windows because your roof might fly off.
But let's face it - it really is rather hard to get sick of nice weather year-round; rather, I think I have just become very spoilt, taking for granted that I can just walk outside without having to put on three layers of clothes (and don't forget that snow shovel on the way out...). In the time I have lived here, I have heard quite a few long-time residents tell me that their children couldn't wait to leave this small island when they grew up because it was so boring, and how so many of them come back to live here. The weather is part of it too, but there is something else as well, which I can already feel taking hold of my own psyche after having spent many a dreamy afternoon at the ocean or in the garden. Down here, we are on.....to be continued