Thursday, November 27, 2008

Duck!

Is it just me or does everyone think up of scenarios that could possibly go wrong when certain details are revealed while conversation with a loved one back home. Is this a sign of growing older, knowing full well that being cautious does not necessarily mean that you're wiser? Or is this something that expats feel more so, when they're cut off from their family back at home? Like as if our presence back home would somehow lend to a 24 hour case of protection of that particular loved one, ironic when you wonder how they managed to stay out of harm's way when you both lived in the same city and yet had different daily agendas. Am I making sense?

Well, let's see, of late, my parents in Toronto could tell me a certain something and WHAM out of now where I am thinking of all these scenarios that could go wrong, which follows up with me telling them to be extra cautious, without saying too much, in the event I'd freak them out. I'd like to point out that I am not psychic but these thoughts inevitably occur at times. Is it just me? Am I on edge? Am I losing it? Wanting to have a sliver of control in this highly unstable world. Maybe it's not a question of control but a question of peace of mind. Or maybe it's just a question of protection, or safety. Safety. That's it! We all just want to be safe. Feel safe. Safety for us, our families, no matter where we are, no matter how far the divide. Feeling safe! Just like everyone in Bombay would like to be feeling right now. I hope my friends & family in Bombay are staying safe. I hope the hostages are set free and this is all resolved with justice rightly served. This is much too sad and much too worrying.

Maybe it's just not me at all...maybe you've been feeling it too. All my expats, all around the world, care to weigh in? I love to know what you think just so I know I'm not going crazy!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

For Heaven's Sake, Don't Overtake!

It is the unfortunate truth when they say Bermuda's MALE youth are slowing dwindling in numbers. It is also very scary. Motorists and bikers are always warned of speeding and resisting the urge to overtake on one lane roads, which unfortunately is the standard on small islands such as this. So many deaths in Bermuda have been attributed to just this combination of speeding and overtaking and this is no exception to the island's latest fatality. What's worse is the gut renching pain and devastating loss that the family that's left behind has to endure for years to come. When well people ever learn not to speed and not to overtake. Grand Cayman has its
FOR HEAVEN's SAKE, DON'T OVERTAKE signs on the one lane bypass, but you can bet it has been ignored many many times before.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turtle capture

Cayman's Turtle Farm at times, receives a bad rap on account of how a portion of their turtles are sold as turtle meat to many restaurants around the island. On my last turtle post I was told it was shocking that 'I would promote this place'. I certainly don't applaud what the Turtle Farm does(near heartbroken, in fact), even if 40% of Boatswains turtles are released into the wild every year (this time around, I asked). For me, this is one chance to get up close to a turtle. And I am sure this is the same for many. So many people I know have never had the chance to see a turtle in action, let alone touch it. Practically everyone I know, in fact.

For three summers in Bermuda, I hoped to spot baby turtles at Clearwater Beach (the one place that turtles are seen during the summer months), but had no luck, whatsoever. I am no marine biologist, nor a diver to be able to see these creatures in action and so to Cayman's Turtle Farm I go. And this is where I'll take visitors too. I've never held a turtle before coming to Cayman (not counting the tiny pet turtle a friend had in Toronto as a pet, many years ago). And since I don't dive yet, it will be a while before I get footage like this, unless the next time I go snorkeling, I'll be on alert and not miss the chance to capture what I was able to during my second trip to the Turtle Farm (post Olympus Stylus camera purchase). This time around I was able to dunk the camera right in and capture what I think came out quite well, despite the sun's glare in my eyes. In fact, I love it! Sorry, Marie!



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Monday, November 24, 2008

A Pirate's life for me

Saturday Nov 15/08. Pirates Week Float Parade. GeorgeTown. Where all anyone could see were pirates with swords, running up to random bystanders and 'pretending' to slash their throats. Even dogs were in on the Pirate action, looking for their next victim (do not miss the Pirate hat on his head).

Police Officers were not spared. Pirates charged toward the cop that stood right by us, while one of them pulled out his sword and held it flush against the cop's neck, a little aggressively I might add, Arrring at the same time. The cop all cool and zen like, says: It's going to take a lot more than that to scare me.

Me with my eyes wide open, shocked at this display of what would normally be considered enough to haul one's butt to jail. I mean you've got assault on a cop with a deadly weapon. That's more than enough. I looked at the cop and said: Well, I guess this is the one day they can get away with doing something like that to you. He smiles and says: Oh, you got that right.

Of course, I was a little slow in capturing that shot but I did get the Pirate's next victim. Although I don't know she wasn't afraid...



Friday, November 21, 2008

The only way crabs are meant to be cooked

Growing up in Dubai, the beaches yielded plenty crabs and clams. All that has changed now as the crabs and clams have dwindled thanks to all that construction that has been eating up the beaches. Back then, when I was a child, the relatives would get together and head out to the beach for an all day and all night beach BBQ event. You haven't experienced the ultimate BBQ until you've hung around us. Orange tarps were put up to shade us from the hot desert sun, little floatable rafts were blown up for us kids to chill in out in the ocean and tandoori chicken, lamb sheek kabobs and marinated pork would be grilling on those old time wood/coal fire grills. We kids were also taught how to dig up for clams. Well, we had to earn our keep, right? Along with our moms, we'd haul in buckets of clams by the end of the day. And once night fell, the head honchos would head out to catch crabs, blue Dubai crabs, as seen HERE. It was very important that this night was a 'No Moon' night, as it was called - because that's when the crabs come out to eat. And buckets of them, our fathers would catch. At the end of the night everything would be divided equally and as soon as we got home, Mom would cook up the clams and crabs in a coconut curry. DELICIOUS! When we moved to Canada, we didn't really eat crabs for a long time, until I found the very same blue crabs in Chinatown and since then we've been inviting those blue crabs to join us at the table.

Here in North America, it's the Alaskan King Crab that is popular. And while the North American way of cooking crabs is very different, and by different I mean devoid of spices, it's true that you haven't tasted crab until you've had it in a coconut curry. What I don't like about the King Crab legs i
s that they come partially cooked and laid on ice and that's no way to go. In my opinion, the best way to cook crab is to add it to that coconut curry when it's raw. In my experience, it tastes better when it's cooked from scratch. I made the Goan/Mangalorean Coconut Crab Curry with King Crab legs here a little while ago, for Hubby's birthday. It was delicious and tasted even better the next day (which is normally the case for crabs when cooked this way). As my childhood friend, Pedro asked me the details on the birthday meal, I began to think about the King Crab legs. They're pretty long and meaty and this left me wondering, what does the actual King Crab look like and what is done with the rest of it. A little bit of research via Google Images, yielded me THIS! And as I went through the images I sent over this particular one to Pedro, he like I was dumbfounded. He more so, because he called over all his co workers who were 'pouring in' to look at it. I am not sure if my family or friends back in India or Dubai have actually seen the King Crab before and so to them I say, check out the King Crab. It's crab like you have never seen before.

My version of the
Goan/Mangalorean Coconut Crab Curry. If you do end up trying this out, email me and let me know how yours turned out.
Ingredients:
5 medium blue crabs (preferably raw), each about 500 g OR 1
½ lb of King Crab Legs.
½ cup of water
50 g Tamarind pulp (available @ at Kirk's Supermarket/Grand Cayman in the Indian Foods section).
2 teaspoons Ginger-Garlic paste
1½ teaspoons red Chili Powder or Paprika (optional)
2 teaspoons ground Cumin
2 teaspoons Garam Masala and/or All
Spice
2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
150 g Onions, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon Salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon Black Pepper, or to taste
300 ml Coconut Milk
2 Scallions (green onions)

Directions:
If you're using the whole Blue Crab: cut each crab into 4 or 5 pieces (snap off legs, and cut the body in half once the shell has been removed and the small stomach sac behind the mouth and the inedible grey feathery gills are removed). Rinse under cold water to clean.

If you're using King Crab Legs (preferably raw & fresh): cut off the spiky points on the leg as these are very sharp. Run your fingers over the legs to ensure no sharp bits have been left behind. Rinse under cold water.

Heat up Coconut Oil and add Onions & sauté them until softened and light brown.
Add ginger garlic paste, cumin, garam masala or all spice (or both!) and red chili powder (optional) & sauté gently for 3-4 minutes.
Add ½ cup of water, tamarind pulp and salt. Bring to a simmer then add the coconut milk and simmer again.
Finally add the crabs and simmer for about 5 - 8 minutes until cooked.
Add chopped scallions at the end after the heat has been turned off.
Serve with rice.
A chilled fruity white wine is a great compliment with this meal. Chilled beer may also be served.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mosquito madness

Right before I moved to Cayman, I was warned about mosquitoes. Since in Bermuda, these pesky creatures are practically non existent, something we both loved, many Bermudians warned me about Cayman, asking me how I was going to handle it. I would have liked to know how it was that they knew so much about it. We did like the freedom from those mosquito bites in the three years we were in Bermuda and I would have like to have that remained the same here in Cayman. Not so! When you first get here you will notice that you do get bit frequently by mosquitoes, a lot. Something about new blood. It was horrible because I hadn't experienced bites and the itching it brought on since I was a child in India. I was told the application of rubbing alcohol and an antiseptic itch cream alleviates the effects of a mosquito bite. It does seem to work. Eventually though the mosquitoes tend to leave you alone as they move on to newer 'fresh off the boat' folk. But when you go away on a holiday and return, the cycle starts all over again.

If you're visiting me after the sun has set, you'll often find me ushering you in through the d
oor fairly quickly with my Hey how's it going? Quick, get in before the mosquitoes get in too. Of course I'll usher you out just as fast, not because I want you to leave, but because I just don't want to deal with the mosquitoes after. Piglet's 12 year old brother knows the routine by now. I've heard him tell Piglet, Quick get in before the mosquitoes get in too. Piglet can walk so slow sometimes. I joke!

How much of a problem are mosquitoes here in Cayman? Well, a big enough one. Mosquito repellent is sprayed everyone so often by a low flying airplane, and while I have to wonder how environmentally safe this is or how safe it might be if you're outside while this plane whizzes back and forth, just the noise generated by the plane is enough to drive away the mosquitoes, I think.

How much of a problem are mosquitoes here in Cayman? Well, a big enough one. This past Pirates Week Float Parade actually had a float on the history of
the mosquito and its effects on the Cayman Islands, complete with a couple of giant stuffed mosquitoes. Have a look at the collage and you will see what I mean. The sign has been retyped below and along with some interesting facts, my thoughts are in italics.


MOSQUITOES IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS
IN THE EARLY DAYS
The Cayman Islands are famous for their mosquitoes which in the past reached levels that were unequalled anywhere else in the world. Mosquitoes were accidentally introduced sometime soon after European settlement of the islands, and their populations subsequently exploded. In the early 1940's the mosquitoes population was dense enough to suffocate cattle (fascinating and gross). Residents had to use smoke pan smoke - an aluminium pan filled with sand, cow dung, burning wood and coconut husk. (I've seen my grandmother use this back in the old days, before the days of mosquito ridding coils, although I'm not sure if she actually used cow dung...and if she did, where'd she get it from?). This would create enough smoke to ward off pesky mosquitoes. Most residents would keep their oil lamps burning very low, as the light attracted the mosquitoes. If there was a young baby in the household, cheese cloth was placed over the crib to ensure the infant was not bitten mosquitoes. If locals had to venture out, such as going to church at night they would use the local bush such as thatch to beat off the mosquitoes.

The Mosquito Research & Control Unit (MCRU) was established in 1965 when Marco Giglioli arrived from London. The first vehicle mounted Tifa Todd thermal fogging machine was in operation by the 1966 mosquito season. Initial mosquito control efforts were concentrated on the GerogeTown area and were very successful. Windrows of mosquitoes were reported in the streets each morning. Fogging machines increased in number to nine by 1969, using malathion diluted in diesel oil (
ahh the smell of my Bombay childhood. Something about it that makes you want to breathe in deep. Don't deny it!).

In South Sound mangrove swamp in 1971 as many as 600 bites per minute on one arm have been recorded (DAMN). The record trap catch for one night in the Cayman Islands is 793,103 from a single New Jersey light trap in Bodden Town in 1974 (die pesky buggers die!!!). There are approximately thirty species occurring in Grand Cayman (like we need any more of those. Seriously, what do
mosquitoes, like roaches do for us anyway?).

Needless to say, I've also been responsible for killing my fair share of mosquitoes in Cayman.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Steel Pans

One of the things that makes Cayman so special to so many people (locals and expats) is its ability to make people from any and all countries feel so welcome, whether they are visitors or foreign workers. I have truly experienced the warmth of the Cayman people and their willingness to even learn and want to integrate other's cultures as part of their own. This was none to evident during the Pirates Week Float Parade as this particular section began to walk by. Take a look at the collage and you'll see what I mean.

Not only does Cayman make it a point to acknowledge this fact but it has also integrated others cultures and made it part of their own. I give you Steel Pans, introduced from Trinidad about 20 years ago and heartily accepted and integrated into Cayman's culture. This is an important fixture of Pirates week that competitions were held over the course of the week. I have so many videos and pictures to depict particular heritage, but I leave you with these ones taken during the GeorgeTown Heritage Day on Thursday night. Enjoy!

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Monday, November 17, 2008

All fired up

The one thing about Pirates Week 2008 that everyone is talking about is the fireworks. It was definitely the best we've seen yet. I heard that big money was spent on the fireworks showdown on Saturday that lasted for about 10 minutes. How big? Oh about $100,000 big. Check out the video and you'll see why it's the talk of the town.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pirates of terror

Of the pirates of yesteryear, perhaps the two most popular ones are Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard and Calico Jack Ratham (rumoured to be the inspiration for Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean). They both reigned and terrorised the Caribbean during what was known as the Golden Age of Piracy.

Blackbeard (British by birth) was one of the most notorious pirates known to plunder the Caribbean islands in the early 18th century. The Queen Anne's Revenge was one of his best known ships. There is much at the Pirates Soul Museum on Blackbeard and I quote the following from Key West's Pirates Soul Museum:
"November 17
18: Famous for his blood-curdling looks and terrifying manner, Blackbeard died during a bloody battle in Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina. He was killed by the Royal Navy's Lieutenant Robert Maynard. The cause of death was decapitation. It is said that Blackbeard received 20 cutlass slashes and five shots before he finally fell. Blackbeard's reign of terror lasted less than three years but made him a legend. He was survived by 14 wives."

Blackbeard's head was hung from the bow of the ship belonging to his decapitator and was later hung from a pike in Bath. The Museum had a little replica of Blackbeard's head hanging from a pike and though it was just a replica, it was quite gruesome. See for yourself!

Calico Jack Ratham was also and English Pirate and the calico clothes he wore gave him his pirate name. The thing that made Calico Jack most famous was the two female pirates, Anne Bonny (Calico Jack's lover) and Mary Read, whom he hired to be a part of his crew. Anne Bonny disguised herself as a man for long time in order for Calico Jack to have her aboard. Their 'close' relationship forced them to reveal her true identity. One night as the authorities invaded Jack's ship, Anne Bonny and Mary Read were the only ones left to fight off the invaders and held them off as long as they could. Calico Jack and his crew were in too much of a drunken stupor to fight the invasion aboard his ship and were captured. Calico Jack was executed in Port Royal, Jamaica in 1720. As a warning to other pirates and in an attempt to deter them from a life of piracy, Calico Jack's body was tarred and hung in an iron cage and his body was left there to rot. A replica of Calico Jack's body is hung at the Museum beside a sign that reads: Had you fought like a man, you might not have been hanged like a dog - Anne Bonny.

So, whatever happened to Anne Bonny and Mary Read? They pleaded for their lives and 'for their bellies' in Court as they were both pregnant at the time. They were both granted a stay of execution until their babies were born but had to serve that time in prison. Mary Read died in April 1971 during childbirth while, Anne Bonny managed to escape prison. It is said that her father ransomed her out of prison, soon after which she gave birth to Calico Jack's second child. It is also said that she lived out her days in Colonial America and died at the ripe old age of 85.

The other thing that made Calico Jack famous was his version of the Pirate Flag, which was from then on adopted by the other pirates and was recently used in Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Pirates of Las Tortugas

Did you know there IS buried pirate treasure here in Cayman that has yet to be found? Oh yeah! I had read about this before moving to Cayman and found it fascinating but when I asked a local about it, she quickly dismissed the idea, saying if there was any treasure to be found, it would have been long time ago. But that's not what a pirate told me yesterday.

Oh yeah, I met a few pirates yesterday in Georgetown for its Heritage Day. Real pirates! Cayman has about 35 pirates and they're all real and known as the Pirates of Las Tortugas. At first I didn't believe them, but it's true. It was their pirate ancestors that one might have been afraid of. There is a reason why Pirates Week is integrated with Heritage Days all over Cayman. It is partly their heritage. Back in the day, pirates took refuge in many Caribbean islands during their raids, in a attempt to avoid the 'authorities' sent forth by the British. It's only natural that they planted roots in many of the Caribbean islands, and not to mention buried treasure as well. According to this pirate, there are about five treasures that have remained hidden for ages, that no one has been able to unearth. No one knows where they are and the search continues. Fascinating!


As we began talking about the Pirate Soul Museum in Key West and of the world's only surviving treasure chest, which I have re posted here, he began to regale us on how the owner of the Museum has collected quite a wealth of pirate artifacts from all around the world, especially difficult since 99% of the world's pirate treasure has been lost to the seas. He made mention of the silver coins and how back in the day how each pirate would a pay of a silver coin (Also known as Piece of Eight) as they docked off. Each coin weighed about 28 grams each and was each worth 8 reales, to later have little bits be cut out it to pay for various different things like food, rum, lodging. He made mention of how many times the coins would have a V shaped cut in them. Of course, I had to come back and dig through my photo archives of the Spanish Coins that currently lie at the Museum. And sure enough he was right!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Pirate Flag

Everyone loves Pirates. What's not to? Especially after Johnny Depp played the exceptional role of Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. We shall forever think of Johnny's Jack Sparrow as the ultimate pirate going forward. The pirates we've always 'encountered' in today's world are funny, savvy & jolly. Well, if this were a few centuries ago, we'd not think so. Just the presence of a pirate ship out yonder in the ocean, only recognisable by the pirate flag, the sighting of which would invoke the start of chaos and panic that would have made us run for the hills. We'd be terrorised by pirates because if they were in a looting mood, one could kiss everyone and everything good bye.

And everyone knows what a pirate's flag looks like right? We may not recognise flags of different nations, but a pirate flag has been embedded in our memories for as long as we could remember. But what is the pirate flag really and where did it come from?

At the Pirate Soul Museum in Key West, we were treated to the answer. The flag pictured here is one of the only two existing original pirate flags in the world. Next to it the inscription reads:
"ONLY TWO PIRATE FLAGS STILL EXIST
And this is one of them. It's the popular Jolly Roger design. What's so jolly about it?
Nothing! Like all pirate flags, it was designed to strike terror into its victims' hearts and minds.
The name Jolly Roger probably came from the French words jolie rouge, meaning 'pretty red' and referring to the days when pirate flags were often red. The skull with a pair of crossed bones underneath may have been borrowed from gravestones."

Fascinating!

Now not only do you know the origins of the pirate flag, you also know what Jolie stands for in Angelina Jolie (yes it fits, as some of you may know that her mother was French Canadian).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lest we forget

I received this via email, for Remembrance Day which is widely celebrated in North America, Europe and many other countries. Reading this makes me so proud to be Canadian.

A British newspaper article salutes Canada. Sunday Telegraph Article From today's UK wires:

"Salute to a brave and modest nation - Original Article: By Kevin Myers,'The Sunday Telegraph' LONDON:

Until the deaths of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan (2002), probably almost no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian troops are deployed in the region.

And as always, Canada will bury its dead, just as the rest of the world, as always, will forget its sacrifice, just as it always forgets nearly everything Canada ever does...

It seems that Canada's historic mission is to come to the selfless aid both of its friends and of complete strangers, and then, once the crisis is over, to be well and truly ignored.

Canada is the perpetual wallflower that stands on the edge of the hall, waiting for someone to come and ask her for a dance. A fire breaks out, she risks life and limb to rescue her fellow dance-goers, and suffers serious injuries. But when the hall is repaired and the dancing resumes, there is Canada, the wallflower still, while those she once helped Glamorously cavort across the floor, blithely neglecting her yet again.

That is the price Canada pays for sharing the North American continent with the United States, and for being a selfless friend of Britain in two global conflicts.

For much of the 20th century, Canada was torn in two different directions: It seemed to be a part of the old world, yet had an address in the new one, and that divided identity ensured that it never fully got the gratitude it deserved. Yet it's purely voluntary contribution to the cause of freedom in two world wars was perhaps the greatest of any democracy.

Almost 10% of Canada's entire population of seven million people served in the armed forces during the First World War, and nearly 60,000 died. The great Allied victories of 1918 were spearheaded by Canadian troops, perhaps the most capable soldiers in the entire British order of battle.

Canada was repaid for its enormous sacrifice by downright neglect, it's unique contribution to victory being absorbed into the popular Memory as somehow or other the work of the 'British.' The Second World War provided a re-run. The Canadian navy began the war with a half dozen vessels, and ended up policing nearly half of the Atlantic against U-boat attack.

More than 120 Canadian warships participated in the Normandy landings, during which 15,000 Canadian soldiers went ashore on D-Day alone. Canada finished the war with the third-largest navy and the fourth largest air force in the world. The world thanked Canada with the same sublime indifference as it had the previous time.

Canadian participation in the war was acknowledged in film only if it was necessary to give an American actor a part in a campaign in which the United States had clearly not participated - a touching scrupulousness which, of course, Hollywood has since abandoned, as it has any notion of a separate Canadian identity. So it is a general rule that actors and filmmakers arriving in Hollywood keep their nationality - unless, that is, they are Canadian. Thus Mary Pickford, Walter Huston, Donald Sutherland, Michael J. Fox, William Shatner, Norman Jewison, David Cronenberg, Alex Trebek, Art Linkletter, Peter Jennings and Dan Aykroyd have in the popular perception become American, and Christopher Plummer, British.

It is as if, in the very act of becoming famous, a Canadian ceases to be Canadian, unless she is Margaret Atwood, who is as unshakably Canadian as a moose, or Celine Dion, for whom Canada has proved quite unable to find any takers. Moreover, Canada is every bit as querulously alert to the achievements of its sons and daughters as the rest of the world is completely unaware of them.

The Canadians proudly say of themselves - and are unheard by anyone else - that 1% of the world's population has provided 10% of the world's peacekeeping forces. Canadian soldiers in the past half century have been the greatest peacekeepers on Earth - in 39 missions on UN mandates, and six on non-UN peacekeeping duties, from Vietnam to East Timor, from Sinai to Bosnia. . So who today in the United States knows about the stoic and selfless friendship its northern neighbour has given it in Afghanistan? Rather like Cyrano de Bergerac,

Canada repeatedly does honourable things for honourable motives, but instead of being thanked for it, it remains something of a figure of fun. It is the Canadian way, for which Canadians should be proud, yet such honour comes at a high cost. This past year more grieving Canadian families knew that cost all too tragically well.

Lest we forget.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

West Bay Heritage Day

Pirates Week has begun. We drove on down to the West Bay Heritage Day at the Turtle Farm yesterday. It was a fabulous hot day and after six weeks of rain, I'd completely forgotten how hot Cayman can really get. Amid the heat we were treated some of the things that were done yesteryear in Cayman, like how to thatch rope and to plenty of goods made using straw and of course spinning tops (both of which were and still are so similar to the ones made in India).

Many times I find souvenirs here are not really made here but rather 'outsourced', with the Cayman Islands stamp on it. It can be quite difficult looking for Made in Cayman souvenirs, but not this week. Heritage Week is THE place to take something truly and authentically made in Cayman by Caymanians. I snapped up one of the ceramic green turtles shown here and am now kicking myself for not also buying the ceramic orange starfish. But I think I shall get my chance this Thursday in Georgetown, where Heritage Day is set to take place there. If you're visiting, don't miss out on the chance to take home something truly Caymanian made and you get to support local artisans by doing so. Also shown are some old Cayman treasures that have probably been around for a century, of course none of those were on sale. And what was also interesting to see was the traditional garb that most of the women at the event wore. Interesting because until I saw their Gingham dresses, it never occurred to me that Cayman had its own distinct and traditional dress.

There was also plenty of local food to be had, of which I will get shots of later on this week. If you've never been privy to local Caymanian grub, then this is the time and place to try some out. Of course the Pirates had to show up and even though it was while we were leaving, they were gracious enough to pose for a quick shot with us. Of course this is not the only pirate shot I will leave you with this week. Stay tuned because there's plenty more to come. The revised Pirates Week schedule can be found HERE.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Patois or Piglet

My local friend Piglet would often poke fun at when when I first got here, at my inability to speak Patois or understand Patois. Cayman has a significant Jamaican population, with many Jamaicans that are now status holders, so of course, Patois has been integrated into the everyday dialogue. Oh fine, whatever Piglet, I'd say. Not that I'd really care. Ironic considering some of the words that Piglet pronounces are hard to understand (not by me). Like with friends one evening, during conversation, she inadvertently kept saying scrimp. A couple of friends had a hard time figuring out what that word meant. I leaned back and watched because mere moments earlier Piglet had just completed making fun of me and my non Patois speaking abilities. After a few repeats, no one was getting anywhere so I stepped in and said: She means shrimp. I then looked over to Piglet and was all like: I may not understand Patois and don't need to yo, cause I understand Piglet! HA! It's a very popular inside joke among us now. So, care to take a guess as to how many times she has since even 'attempted' to lay the Patois joke on me?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Brac after Paloma

The Cayman Brac has been hit really hard by Hurricane Paloma. Fellow Caymanian blogger, Mark over at First Time has posted a detailed note on how Paloma managed to wreak havoc on the island. 25 foot waves are scary and I am not sure how I would have been able to deal with that. Please do go on over and read about what he has to say. The Brac's residents are currently without power and Paloma is now being compared to 2004's Hurricane Ivan, which was one of the worst hurricanes the Caribbean has seen. You can also read about it here, here and here. It's also been reported that 90% of properties have suffered extensive damage not to mention one of their supermarkets has been completely destroyed.. How eerie is it that the Brac also suffered extensive damage due the the 1932 Hurricane on the very same day decades ago? I do not know what else to say, because that could have easily been our fate here on Grand Cayman. Brackers, you are in our thoughts and we hope your recovery is speedy.

An excerpt from the Cayman News Service:
Paloma made its strike on Cayman Brac on the eve of 76th anniversary of one of the most devastating storms ever to hit the Cayman Islands – the 1932storm. It is believed that Paloma took a very similar direction to the ’32 storm. Early on 9 November, 1932 the storm passed Cayman Brac with winds of up to 155 miles per hour before sweeping into north–east into Cuba.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Post Hurricane Paloma

4:00am
I've just woken up and am still half asleep but the calmness is eerie. After a night of noise, which I did sleep right through, I was woken up by the calm and the quiet. Yes, I have heard of that happening. And man is it quiet. And dry as well. My first thought is that the eye of the storm is passing over us, a period when it's eerily calm, before the second half of the hurricane makes an appearance. Of course I dare not go out to check, as much as I want to so I log on to
the Hurricane websites I normally check and am surprised to see the Hurricane has moved away completely from Grand Cayman. Mark over at First Time looks like he's been up all night and has said on his blog that the storm went to the South instead of over Grand Cayman. That's the second time we've been lucky in terms of avoiding a direct hit. The sister islands are not so lucky at the moment as you can see, Paloma is poised to make a direct hit. When I asked him about hurricane season being over, RI over at Revolution Island reminded me that today is the anniversary of the deadly 1932 Hurricane, so I am really hoping and sending out lots of good wishes and prayers to the sister islands. For now I am heading back to bed and am hoping the water is turned back on when I awake a few hours later. You know for sure I'll be making the rounds and snapping up post Paloma effects, so please stay tuned.

10:26am
We are up. It's a little cloudy but dry and there's a gentle breeze. We're out to do a little damage control.

11:30pm
Today was such a hot and beautiful day. I couldn't believe what a difference a day makes when only yesterday we were fighting off rain and wind as we picked up last minute supplies and later on stayed in hoping that the storm would pass us by with little incident.

We did drive around to snap up some shots and this time I wanted to target a different spot than we did for Hurricane Gustav. We hit a public beach on Seven Mile and then later a drive through Georgetown. The beach was wonderful to be at, the smell of the ocean was so refreshing and even more so was watching the little kids enjoy the gorgeous day post hurricane. It was hot enough for many to soak up some sun and walking along the beach, listening to the waves crash made us realise how truly lucky we are to be able to live in a place like this. Sure we have to deal with hurricanes, but look at what we are rewarded with in the end. It's all about perspective..right?

Driving around Georgetown, the most apparent damage that one could see was flooding (as you can see in the collage here. Some signs were also 'affected' but I think that's about it. Cayman was very fortunate with this hurricane. Hubby was surprised with how fast everything was up and running soon after the government gave the all clear. I was just surprised how quickly the storm passed. I feel we were better prepared for Hurricane Gustav than this one, and have resolved to be better prepared next time around regardless how we think it may turn out. The sister islands took a real beating and have had extensive damage. I hope they are able to recover from this quickly.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Hurricane Paloma Updates

Hurricane Paloma can be tracked at the following links below:

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_at2+shtml/204814.shtml?3day?large#contents

http://www.wunderground.com/tropical/tracking/at200817.html


6:01 pm

Paloma is pretty much here. Internet is intermittent. Not sure when I will be able to update again. Strong winds, lots of rain. And of course, no water. They shut the water off here during a hurricane to prevent loss of water through leaking pipes that may burst due to the floods (info courtesy of Piglet). The good news is that we at least still have power and hope to do so through the night.

6:47 pm
It's funny how we take for granted the little things until they're taken away from us, temporarily. Hurricanes will do this to people. Cut off the water supply and it's like we're in a drought. Cut off the power and we feel like everything is at a standstill. Whatever did they do before in the olden days when there wasn't running water or electricity?

7:25pm
Paloma is now a Category 3 hurricane. The good news is that the eye is not going to pas
s directly above Grand Cayman. And it also looks like it's going to slide in between Grand Cayman and the sister islands. Right now I can hear an insane amount of pounding rain against the windows and once can tell just how strong the winds are by the pounding. I hope everyone's staying safe!

8:09pm
A little perspective...three years in Bermuda and we only had to deal with one Hurricane Florence. Hardly been here in Cayman a year and we've already dealt with Hurricane Gustav and are now dealing with Paloma.

9:12pm
Should we be scared? Friends off island are asking if we are. I'm not sure. It's perfectly natural to feel startled like when you unexpectedly hear that loud crack of thunder, except in this case it's really loud winds and pounding rain, that sounds like hail falling. Maybe we will be scared when the hurricane is closest to us, or maybe we'll be sleeping it off.

9:53
Channels that we've tuned into all day today on the tube has been in this particular order.
The Weather Channel, CNN, The Weather Channel, CNN, The Weather Channel, CNN. You get the idea. And so to introduce some politics to todays post, I give you this, as forwarded by Hubby. Enjoy!





Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pirates week sneak peek

I have been looking forward to Pirates Week Festival here in Cayman, pretty much since I got here, and entire week of fun, devoted to piracy, Caribbean style. The only style there is! It had already been postponed from it's original slot in October, since we've been having unusual inordinate amounts of rainfall here in Grand Cayman. And now, as of today we're preparing for a category 1 or 2 hurricane. And here I thought we were done with our share of hurricanes. Paloma, you can take a hike in another direction, like perhaps inch more towards the West. The extreme West. For now many events are cancelled/postponed and revised dates can be found here.

STAY TUNED NEXT WEEK, AS I WILL BE DOING A WEEK LONG SESSION OF PIRATE POSTS, tales and pictures from the
Pirate Soul Museum in Key West from our recent cruise to Key West/Cozumel and of course from all the Piracy that's going to take over Cayman over the next week. Here's a sneak peek!









Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A new page

OBAMA HAS WON and history has been made! I was glued to CNN last night and even though I was previously unattached to the whole campaigning process, I could not detach myself from the electoral process unfolding in front of me. I even got teary eyed during some parts of Obama's post win speech. Come on, who here didn't??

So, what have we learned?

Things have to get really bad, before they can even start to look remotely good. The American people are ready for a change and to give 'the other guy' a fair chance and they have spoken.


This election was NOT about race. According to the polls, it wasn't even a concern, not as much as age was. McCain's age that is. Even little kids were aware of this. Hubby's niece, Smoochie (aged 8) 'voted' for Obama, because he is not as old as McCain. Ouch! Not that I am a promoter of ageism, but to be honest, I was wondering why this was not more of an issue than all the attention that was paid to race or religion where Obama was concerned.

The Obama girls have a new puppy. I am a little jealous.

And I leave you with this: If the world could vote, here's who they would have elected. No surprise there.

Today is also my dad's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAPI!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Obama has my vote

Seems like every one's pulling for Obama to win. Watching the news, seeing so many black voters getting out there, standing in long lines and making a choice, it's easy to presume that they're voting for Obama, because he's black. And if that were entirely true, so what? Heck, if there an Indian candidate running was for the presidency, I'd be damn proud, but I wouldn't vote for him based on the fact that we share the same motherland or skin tone. The fact that he made it so far would be awesome. Just like Obama has. A black senior citizen was asked today: Did you ever think you'd see this day? His response was a negative. Yes, it is 2008 but at times we have regressed so far back on so many issues that it doesn't seem like the modern world that it should be.

Here in Cayman and I am sure in Bermuda as well, so many are rooting for Obama even though they're not eligible to vote. For those that are, it would seem reckless to vote for someone based on the colour of their skin. Even if one does want to go that route, they'd have to at some point look beyond race and actually have to listen to what that candidate has to say. Like Hubby's cousin in Georgia. She voted for Obama because she liked his plan for education. As a mother of young kids she is all for any candidate with a strong plan for education because to her that's what's most important. Education and health care. I say this election is not about race. It's more about a charismatic democrat who has been able to keep his cool through it all and has a plan that most believe will work to bring America back on track. I LOVE this write up that my fellow blogger, Zen Denizen has penned about Obama. It resonates with all of us, at some level or another, American or not. It IS time for that change. Can you feel it???



Monday, November 03, 2008

Double takes

Friday evening. Downtown Toronto. My mother walking the streets and she notices a nun walking ahead of her. Not just any nun, but a 'young black nun'. This definitely holds her attention because here is a nun walking the streets of Toronto. She's intrigued and thinks to herself: This nun is young. You don't see that anymore and you definitely don't see nuns walking about out on the streets. Mere moments later, the nun is spotted chatting on the cell phone and my mother thinks to herself: 'Shit, they let nuns have cell phones these days? What the heck is this? What kind of nunnery is this?'
And then it dawns on her that it's Halloween and this nun is no nun at all.
My mother! The stunts she pulls and the things she says always makes us laugh and this time I've forewarned her that this is going on the blog.

And here I am...
Friday evening. Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman.
Happy hour. Where no sooner than we arrive, one of my former co-workers whom I had seen just a month earlier, walks in. My jaw drops and my eyes pop out because here is she is walking in looking all cool and pregnant. And for the few moments that I am left speechless, the following thoughts run through my head: What? When? Who's the daddy? She knows she's got your attention and that shock value, and she smiles, which is when I spot her black tooth, coloured to make it seem like it's missing. And yes, I slap my forehead because the tooth is a dead giveaway that it's Halloween. How could I have forgotten? I think it was because the hardcore Halloweeners hadn't arrived yet. Laughs later, she poses with a beer in one hand, and a cigarette in another while we snap away, also in the hopes that a concerned someone walking by may give her a good piece of their mind on the perils of drinking and smoking while pregnant. I have to say, on that night her persona was very reminiscent of the female characters on AMC's Mad Men, an awesome show set in the 60's. If you haven't watched it, you should. I highly recommend it.