Policies and Ministries and where I fall in the scheme of things

Good evening, lovely readers!

After the completion of my full second day of work (granted it’s only the introductory part) I feel better prepared to write about things.  So allow me to explain where I fall in the grand scheme of things in government line…

The Cayman Islands are a British Overseas Territory and it is composed of three islands.  Grand Cayman, which is where I work and live, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman.  The government is a parliamentary dependency under constitutional monarchy.  The current Governor is Her Excellency Helen Kilpatrick.  The Deputy Governor is Franz Manderson.  The Chief Officer of the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is the “umbrella” over the Department of Public Safety Communications, is Eric Bush and I got the chance to meet him today.  So far, he’s pretty much been the only person who didn’t look at me like I was insane when I told him I worked in Antarctica for a while.  Under him is Deputy Chief Officer Wes Howell, whom I also met today. And the other DCO is Katherine Dinspel-Powell.  I didn’t get to meet her.  My Director, Mr. Brent Finster, falls right under Wes Howell.

*Other disciplines that fall under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) are the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS), Department of Immigration, Her Majesty’s Prison Service, Her Majesty’s Fire Service, Department of Community Rehabilitation, Hazard Management Cayman Islands, and the Department of Computer Services

In the 911 center, we have a director, two assistant directors, Leslie “Lennox” Vernon and Julian Lewis.  Lennox is over training and day to day operations of the 911 center and Julian is over the electronic monitoring system and CCTV access over the island.  The next step down is comprised of four communication supervisors.  Then there are 12 telecommunicators or dispatchers.  Whichever we feel more comfortable being called.  I’m either number 11 or 12.  Not sure which one I technically am.  But I’m at the bottom of the totem pole.  I’m okay with this.

The first two days of work have entailed of getting familiar with the building in which we’re located and going over SOGs – Standard Operating Guidelines.  Let me tell you.  These people have it together.  I can’t go into details about work stuff due to signing a non-disclosure agreement, but I can share the vision statement of the department with you all:

Vision – Provide the highest level of service possible which could be favorably compared with any public safety communications centre and electronic monitoring operation anywhere in the world.

Easy enough.

Having read a fair number of the SOGs now, and having seen the training outline and being in the program… I can say that this place has high expectations for their employees.  They set the bar high and they expect you to meet every one of there standards.  They invest time into you with the attention to detail in training as well as getting to know you.  However, not only do they have these high expectations and a strenuous training program, they want you to enjoy the job.  When management comes in at the start of business hours, they come in and say hello to everyone and see if anything is needed.  At the end of the day, they tell everyone goodnight and ask if they need to take care of anything before it is time to go.  They’re willing to come out and work the consoles if needed.

Not only is the management an absolute dream, the people working there have been so amazingly nice.  I posted it on my Facebook page, but I know not all of my readers are on my Facebook, one of them has not only offered to rent a room of her apartment to me for a while, she’s also offered to let me rent her car for a few months.  Another co-worker has offered to take me around on one of her days off to help me set up my bank account and complete other errands.  She’s also getting people together to meet Candy, my new co-worker who started with me, and I Friday night.  We’ve been given advice on what areas are good to rent places to stay (as well as warned what areas to avoid), we’ve been told the best place to locate automobiles when it is time to obtain our own if we choose.  They haven’t been completely sugary sweet though, there has been some good natured picking at each other which helps me feel more at home.

The department is comprised of about 50% Caymanian people and 50% outsiders and I am not the only one from Georgia!  My fellow southerner, much like myself, has little to no southern accent but loves the Braves (no matter how craptastic they play).  We have a few ladies from Jamaica, a few from Canada, one from the Turks and Caicos, and I’m not sure where the rest are from because I haven’t met them yet.

So, that’s a bit about my work.  And will probably be the only thing about work that I actually write about.  I don’t want to get in trouble because now that I’ve actually driven some, I think I’ll manage to survive here.

Tropical Regards.


Ice Princess to Caribbean Queen

Greetings from Grand Cayman!

More specifically, from George Town, and even more specifically from the Sunshine Suites off of Esterly Tibbetts Highway.

Upon awakening this morning at 0500, I promptly got dressed, went downstairs to my parents living room and laid right back down on the couch for a nap.  I was up late last night chatting with my Dad.  I knew that I was going to have to be up early as Mom and I were planning on being on the road at 0630 for my 0900 flight.  It was a price I was willing to pay.  After some coffee and giving my Dad a hug, we were off to the airport.

As we traveled down the road, I managed to maintain my composure while mom and I chatted.  As soon as we turned onto the road to the airport, I started crying.  I should come with a warning label “Will burst into tears if made to say goodbye”.  I think I need a shirt that has that on the front and it shall become my official travel shirt.  And it should have pockets for tissues for crying.  Mom knew it was coming, it’s not the first time she’s experienced my tearful farewell.   I made the decision to just be dropped off at the departure curb for American Airlines rather than have Mom come in with me.  I figured I’d be able to regain composure more quickly that way.  Thankfully, she was much more together this morning than I was, because I almost left my computer and camera bag in the car.  After a few more hugs and retrieving my backpack, I went to check in.

I made this trip with four suitcases.  We managed to get all of them under the 50 lb. weight to avoid excess weight baggage fees.  The first two bags together equaled $65.  My third suitcase was $150 and the fourth was $200.  Ridiculous.  But… Now I know.  It’s just something I wish I would have known beforehand.  Oh well.  The way I see it is that there are some things I brought with me that can’t be replaced.  They had to come.  And it is cheaper to bring them down than to buy them here.

Thankfully both of my flights went as scheduled.  For the first flight, I managed to get an exit row seat and on my second flight, I was pretty lucky because the middle seat was unoccupied in our row of three seats.  I slept the majority of both flights.  The first flight had a bit of turbulence at landing, but nothing awful.  I was very blessed with my traveling today.

Upon arriving in Grand Cayman, it was hot and humid.  Just what I expected.  So, future visitors, when you come to see me, there is a pretty lengthy line for our small airport but thankfully the process hasn’t taken too long either time I’ve come to the island.  This time, however, I checked in and got my two year resident stamp.  Now I get to use the resident line when I go back and forth, and both times I’ve seen it, it’s been much much shorter than any of the other lines.  I then collected my luggage, went through customs and ventured off to find my chariot to take me to my temporary home.

Hotels here do not have shuttles to transport you to and from the airport.  There is a flat rate of $23 USD from the airport to the various hotels in Seven Mile Beach.  I met a lovely Caymanian lady named Ellie.  When she looked at my luggage she said “Oh you must be here for a wedding?”  I replied that I was relocating to the island, and she proceeded to give me a hug and welcome me.  She is both a taxi driver and a school bus driver, so she was able to impart words of wisdom regarding traversing the roads on the island.  “Be patient and don’t count on people to use their indicators”.

I checked in to the hotel without any problem and was assisted to my room by one of the hotel porters.  Alphonso made sure I was satisfied with my accommodations and then left.  Shortly after, I received a call from the front desk to inquire if everything was to my satisfaction.  At that point, I had not been able to connect my phone to the hotel wifi and mentioned that issue to her.  I was, however, able to get online on my computer, which would be fine.  However, the IT person showed up at my door about three minutes later to attempt to fix my problem.  I guess the wifi gods like him because as soon as he showed up, I was able to connect with both my phone and computer.  He kept apologizing profusely though, despite my assurances that it was okay and I had only been concerned because I needed to let my loved ones at home know I had arrived.  As he walked out, still apologizing, he turned and gave me a huge smile and said “Welcome Home to Cayman!”.  As I was closing the door, I heard something hitting one of the windows of my room and realized that a downpour had started. I chatted briefly with a few folks at home and then opted for a nap.

After waking up and feeling the great urge to brush my teeth, I remembered that I had to toss my toothpaste when going through airport security in Jax.  Luckily, there is a minimart right around the corner, so I headed there for a few necessities.  I then treated myself to what will probably be my most expensive meal until I return home.  The hotel has a pretty good restaurant called the Sunshine Grill and they make amazing fish tacos.  I also treated myself to their specialty drink – The Painkiller.  It was ridiculously overpriced, but after everything I’ve gone through over the past month, I deserved it.

The rest of the evening has brought rain off and on.  I finally got in touch with Candy, the other girl starting with me, and we’re catching a cab to the centre tomorrow.  Then we’ll pick up Roberta’s SUV and have our own set of wheels.  And then we’ll commence with my driving lessons! HAHAHA!

I’ve felt like a kid getting ready for the first day of school this afternoon.  I have my work bag ready with pens, pencils and notebooks.  I have my clothes set out and ready for tomorrow.  I just hope I’m able to sleep well tonight.

Tropical regards!