Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Something special

Some days I find myself racking my brains to think of something to post. Bermuda, Cayman, Toronto, Dubai, Bombay and a way to make it all relateable to the two islands. But I get nothing, nada, babkus, zilch! You get the idea. Well, this week is NOT one of those times my friends. I got just as many ideas this week coming out of my ears as I do smoke when I'm hopping mad. Why, just off the previous post I've got two, count 'em, not one, but TWO topics to blog about. But I'm only going to do one today and I shall leave the rest for another day. I've got to keep you coming back for more, right?

Ok so here goes...

I've blogged about the Queen's English before, specifically the pronunciations of words that are so very different from North American English. The Queen's English is not really limited to England but anywhere that England was a major force back in the colonial days (Canada does not count here). So, we're talking about India (and all them Indians of course, specifically my parents), the West al.

So, how would you pronounce this: SPECIALITY (as in Speciality Inn).

If you're North American you're probably pronounced it speshulty BUT if you're of the Queen's English you're probably pronouncing it speci-a-lity. Am I right? Just another thing of Bermuda that reminded me of my days in India where everyone (including me) would pronounce it the latter. Somewhere along the way (in Canada) I lost it, but my parents (especially my Dad) and their friends haven't. And it makes me smile when I hear those variances.

So, I'm taking a head did you pronounce it? SPESHULTY or SPECI-A-LITY?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Iguana eggs

I'm going to extend on the previous Iguana post here but not quite like you think. Looking back at our stay in Bermuda and the many dinners we had with our American expat friends, LadyBug & SharkBoy, the previous Iguana post made me think of them. Not too far from where we all used to live, is a gem of a family restaurant called Speciality Inn. It's always packed and its reasonable menu coupled with excellent customer service, have people coming back for more. Not to mention their sushi is one of the best in Bermuda. This one particular summer evening, the four of us decided to order in and chill out. It being a work day, none of us felt like cooking or firing up the grill. Along with Speciality's famous pizza, our friends decided to order IGUANA EGGS off the menu. Now I'd seen this on their menu before, but of course was not apt to try. There's only certain types of eggs I'll eat and it comes from a chicken. Hubby and I 'graciously' passed up on doubling the order because we were not about to try Iguana Eggs. Oh but it's good, they told us. Don't care, said we. The order arrived and can I just say, Iguana Eggs were not what I thought they were at all. They weren't even remotely close to anything resembling an iguana egg. So, what were they?

Well, imagine our friends taking a bite of their 'Iguana Egg' and to our surprise it revealed itself as a Jalape
ño Popper! What is a Jalapeño Popper? It's a Mexican first and of late a South Western American dish - a deep friend breaded Jalapeño pepper stuffed with cream cheese (Google it!). Heck, I say. That's a Jalapeño Popper. I love those things. Yes, they say, they're also called Iguana Eggs. To which I say: well, heck guys, why didn't y'all say so in the first place? And why'd they have to go and name those Jalapeño Poppers Iguana Eggs. That just about went and made it so darn confusing because I almost came so darn close to never knowing. People would be more likely to order them if they're not known as Iguana Eggs. Don'tcha think? Lookit us for instance!

Monday, July 28, 2008


I've said previously that Iguanas are to Cayman as frogs are to Bermuda. Iguanas here are plentiful, varying in sizes and colours and they roam around free like no body's business. While they look very much like the feisty Komodo dragon, the iguanas are quite timid and actually run for their lives if they spot someone getting too close, even if it is for a photo op (I tried). Unfortunately because of the fact that they're roam the island, they also end up as road kill and when they do, it's not a pretty sight. Cringe worthy really. Maybe because they're bigger? I'm not sure.

A few months ago Cayman woke up to the work week and found themselves starting at the newspaper to find a picture of six dead iguanas that were laid side by side, very much like a scene from CSI. Someone went on a slaughtering spree and decided to target these iguanas. Sad really. Cayman took this very seriously and the investigation is an ongoing process. Workplaces began taking up collections for the Blue Iguana Recovery Fund to do their part.

Here are some Iguana shots taken so far around the island. This first one was during our trek to the Turtle Farm. This guy quickly slid up the tree, camouflaging itself so well that the family that just parked next to the tree had no idea of its existence. The wary look on its face says it all.

Once inside the Turtle Farm, we spotted this one, languidly making its way across the sand, with the scorching hot summer sun beating down on it. This time I did call to its attention, so everyone around me (especially the same visiting family) was able to make it to the opposite end watch it walk by.

Of course, no exhibit is complete without a showcase of Cayman's very own Iguanas. Apparently they are also highly territorial, which is why you'll find them in solitary confinement at the exhibits. Note that accompanied these exhibits says:

The Grand Cayman Blue Iguana is Cayman's largest native land animal and the most endangered iguana in the world. With international conservation assistance, the National Trust for the Cayman Islands operates a successful breed/ release programme to recover this beautiful animal from the brink of extinction.
Adult males can grow to over 5 feet long and weigh up to 25 lbs. Cayman iguanas are vegetarians feeding on fallen fruits, low-hanging flowers and leaves. Our females blue iguana on display is often a dark greyish colour. She exhibits her brilliant blue when warmed by the sun.

LESSER LITTLE CAYMAN IGUANA, Cayman Brac & Little Cayman
The Lesser/ Little Cayman Rock Iguana very similar in biology and behaviour to its Grand Cayman Blue cousin. The species is quite possible extinct on Cayman Brac, but abundant on Little Cayman.
Adult males can grow to over 5 feet long and weigh up to 25 lbs. Cayman iguanas are vegetarians feeding on fallen fruits, low-hanging flowers and leaves. Our male Iguana on display usually exhibits a dark grey-brown colour, which turns lighter as he warms in the sun.

And I close with this GRUMPY fella. The reason this shot is all blurry is because he was so close to the cage that I couldn't focus, but you can still tell how grumpy his is. I half expected him to lunge at the camera lens, but surprisingly he stayed put. Yes, I say 'he' because I know he's a male iguana.

Friday, July 25, 2008


I had barely set foot in Cayman when I felt the onslaught of a slew of "Which Island is better" and "What's it like working in Bermuda compared to Cayman" type questions. I wasn't willing to answer them then and put it off saying: I'd only know how to answer those after living in Cayman for at least a few months. Well, I believe that time has arrived.

There's always that tension in the workplace, the locals vs the expats. For the most part it's hidden, but every once in while it rears its ugly head and it's not just limited to the island life. I've never really blogged about the workplace tension in Bermuda, mainly because I didn't think it was 'safe' to do so (if a local's blog can be shut down, watch how fast they'd move on a expat, was my thinking). With the small number of expats compared to size of Bermuda's local population, there is quite a bit of resentment that exits. In the past few years, expats have been feeling less and less welcome on the island and in the workplace due to these tensions that inevitably surface. Recent government rules that have been implemented have not exactly been expat friendly and this is a feeling shared across the board. Talk of how the second car market should be made unavailable to expats, on how expats singles/ couples would no longer be eligible to purchase cars, on how it would the companies that would be allotted permits to own cars and it would be them that would decide which expat employee would get that permit - these are the asinine rules to name a few. Luckily these never got implemented because of the uproar on how these rules make expats feel like second class citizens. 'Second Class Citizens' was a phrase that was thrown around a lot last year in the expat community.
Add to that, the government refuses to acknowledge that International Business is the MAIN pillar of the economy, given that tourism is an industry that only thrives in the summer due to Bermuda's sub tropical and variable climate. It has been adamant that it is tourism that is the main pillar of the economy and frankly given the facts, those numbers just don't add up.

Well, welcome to Cayman, where 58% of the population is made up of expats. Yes, there does exist that tension but it is minute compared to Bermuda's level. What's different about Cayman is that many of the current status holders started out as expats many years ago.
There are no restrictions on owning cars here on this island. And unlike Bermuda, Cayman does acknowledge that International Business goes equally hand in hand with the tourism industry to make up their economy. An acknowledgement such as this can make all the difference. And it does. And coming from Bermuda, I can now feel the difference. Some may feel that I am biased and that I've no love for Bermuda any more, but that's not true. When I first got here, people would automatically tell me, 'So you're from Bermuda huh? I heard they have a lot of restrictions on things like work permits and owning cars.' They'd obviously heard it from other former Bermuda residents. Word of mouth is everything and Bermuda's reputation has unfortunately preceded it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Open wide

After a five month break, it feels good to be driving again. It helps that the roads here in Grand Cayman are wider and that the mini highways make the commute easier, because we all know how I hate stop and go traffic. Gimme a highway any day and I am game. And while Cayman's highways are not the same as Toronto's, it'll do for now. However, the roundabouts here are bigger than Bermuda's and that can sometimes be a little daunting when it's crazy mad rush hour traffic time - definitely not my favourite thing in the world. And unlike Bermuda, Cayman does not have too many bike/scooter/moped riders on the roads.

What is not uncommon about all these places (and the rest of the world) is that they inevitably share one thing - stupid drivers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The license collector

I was almost afraid to find out if Cayman required people to undergo a driving test, if they already have one from a previous country. At that point I don't think I could have handled taking another driving test. Turns out, the really good thing about Cayman is NOT having to undergo a drivers' test to get a Cayman drivers' license. Unlike Bermuda, when everyone has to pass the test to become eligible to drive, Cayman allows you to acquire a license if you already have a license from a country within the Geneva Convention Road Traffic Agreement. Major European countries and most English speaking countries make this list, including of course, the US and Canada (even though they drive on the right hand side of the road).

And like Bermuda, your license is issued to you right away but this is largely dependent on whether their machines are working. It's a good idea to call ahead for that day to find out which location has its machine up and running, so you won't have to make a second trip sometime later (which is what happened to me and I'm sure to plenty other people).

I will say this: my photo on my Cayman license came out the best compared to Canada and Bermuda. This may partly be due to the reason that I've lost some weight. (Bingo!) In any case, I like it. I like it a lot.

Another thing about my Cayman license? No spelling errors in my name. Thank you very much.

I'm up to three licenses now and guess what? They're all valid!

Oh one more thing, I've been staring at the word license for the past five minutes that the word has lost all meaning to me. Don't you hate it when that happens?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

On a grand scale

This is Grand Cayman, the largest of the Cayman Islands. It's sitting pretty at about 76 sq miles (55 sq miles larger than Bermuda). What you'll notice instantaneously, is how much more populated the West end of the island is, while the middle portion is inhabited, much of it is a combination of forest/swampland. The area that looks the most populated is Georgetown and that left stretch of land that curves out to the top is the world famous, Seven Mile Beach - a beautiful resort area with, of course, seven miles of gorgeous soft white sand and aqua blue waters. Except for the West end of the island, I haven't explored much, but that's about to change very soon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cayman, where art thou?

While many do not know where Bermuda is really located, most have a rough idea of where the Cayman Islands is - yes that's right. It's in the Caribbean. But where exactly? Do you know? Would you know?

I wouldn't have, if I hadn't looked at the map (this is of course way before I got here). Because the Caribbean houses so very many different islands, scattered and dotted around like it makes no sense, it's rather difficult to remember exactly where they all are, in relation to one another.

Cayman though, is quite easy to spot, once you zoom in of course. It is situated right below Cuba and to the West of Jamaica - both of which one can spot on an atlas - no zooming in required. And so I give you this - satellite images of where the Cayman Islands is roughly situated (look for the circle).

I've also attached another map to show you exactly what the islands look like upon zooming in furthers. The largest of the three is Grand Cayman, with Cayman Little & Cayman Brac to the East. Daily flights shuttle back and forth between the three islands and due to the proximity of the sister islands, no ferry service is available (before any of you email me to ask). Stay tuned for an upcoming post, on Grand Cayman, zoomed in, like you've never seen.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The going rate is...

What I love about Cayman, that I think Bermuda should really implement, is its offering of, for all tourists attractions, a tourist rate and a (cheaper) resident rate. The resident rate is just that - a rate for island residents when they're hosting visitors and accompanying them out and about the island on the many tourists attractions. Those living here, know that this happens more than once. Seriously, you can't very well abandon your guests, telling them that it's the umpteen time that you've been to this or that that they're about to experience. You have to get in there and show them how it's done. Just kidding! It's the company, the company, which is why a resident rate makes so much sense. Not only that, but it's a significant discount as well, across the board. And yes, I'm saying that Bermuda can stand to implement such a rate for its residents, local and expat alike. It would only be fair.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hurricane Bertha

If you're in Bermuda right now, you're probably almost ready for Hurricane Bertha, with its closest point of approach slated 157 kms away tomorrow at 19:00 hrs (which keeps changing). If you click on the link, you'll see that the hurricane path is one where it's almost a direct hit. These are the only kind of hurricanes that Bermuda exeriences. High surf conditions have already been reported at many of the beaches. I wish I could have been there to snap up some shots, because it's actually quite daunting standing at the shore, watching waves that are taller than you come crashing down at the shore. Of course, a 'no beach' advisory is on, but that's not going to deter a few daring ones to go check out the surf, and perhaps take a few pictures.

So, while I am glad we are not there to go through the mayhem, I hope everyone stays safe. I know it's not the best way to spend this weekend, definitely not the best way to start off the weekend. You know, Happy Hour has been shot to hell, there will be no celebration tonight. I hope no one was planning to get married this weekend. Can you imagine the anxiety? That would be one Bridezilla on the run, and frankly, I would not blame her. I'd be pretty upset too if my wedding was ruined by a hurricane.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Turtle talk

The turtle is to Cayman, what the frog/onion is to Bermuda, the maple leaf is to Canada, the hawk is to Dubai, and the elephant is to India. The turtle graces many local companies logos, but only in Cayman is the turtle a delicacy, a local favourite. Turtle soup is a fixture on the menus of many restaurants here. I was once at the grocery store and was shocked to see Cayman's version of the Jamaican meat patty - it was a turtle patty. Yeah, I know!

Of course, I asked my local friend, Piglet if she eats turtle. She told me that as a child she once walked in on her grandfather 'shelling' a turtle in the kitchen and the sight of it along with the blood turned her off any kind of turtle dish forever. Many ask me if I've tried turtle soup. Seriously? Take one good look at this picture (taken at Cayman's Turtle Farm). Does it look like I would eat turtle? No, I didn't think so. The way I see it, turtles are pretty darn cute. Not to mention they live and are able to survive for a couple of hundred years. That in itself is a major feat. Imagine, there are turtles out there that have swam the oceans through the many different revolutions, WW's I & II, and countless other historical events, not to mention the environmental changes we've wreaked this past century. So, why shorten their amazing feat of a lifespan, by eating them? It seems too cruel. And no, it's not the same as eating chicken or beef. Eating turtle is different. I just know I could never do it. How about you? Would you/ have you?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Because I've been looking around for a two bedroom apartment in Cayman, I decided to check out the rental market in Bermuda - just for kicks. What I found shocked me. There are very few one bedrooms, in and around town that are going for less than USD $2,300 The ones that are, are further away at the ends of the island. What was worse was the prices for the two bedrooms. What used to go for USD $3,000 is now going for USD $4,000 When did the rental market undergo such a drastic increase? And who on earth can afford these prices anymore? In the past, expats have often received a bad rap as the cause for the rise in rental prices, because the general assumption is that most expats receive housing allowances from their employers. This is so not true. For a few years now, most employers are NOT extending housing allowances to even its senior staff. As a result of which there is is a new breed of thinking from locals themselves. Many of them are boldly stating that the demand in the rental market has made many local landlords greedy, and therefore they are the ones setting the high rental prices. Makes sense, doesn't it?

Like Bermuda, the rental market in Cayman is quite competitive and strong. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan unleashed such devastation that there were a shortage of rental accommodations in the aftermath. Understandably rental prices skyrocketed. Since then Cayman has been building and building and building, to the point where there is now an abundance of rental accommodations. For the first time since Ivan, rental prices have begun to stabilize and will hopefully decrease. A nicely furnished two bedroom, close to town will cost you about CI$1,800 (USD $2,200), which when compared to Bermuda is a bargain, because most places here are nicely furnished, inclusive of cable (some with pool & gym access). Still it's a steep price to pay. Of course, location is everything and when were talking about an island, it's anything but cheap.