The not-so-good things about paradise

Okay I did a flip side of this post prior to writing it so please don’t read this first and automatically think I’m miserable.  I’m not.  I’m just now writing things that I don’t like or that I’ve missed by moving here.

  • Mosquito season.  Oh wait.  It’s always mosquito season.
  • It is always hot.  ALWAYS. Which brings us to…
  • Swamp ass.  If you have to ask what this is, consider yourself lucky.  It’s that uncomfortable feeling you get in places not spoken of in polite society after sitting around in a wet bathing suit all day.  Or just plan sweating all day.
  • Roosters crowing at 0300 right outside your bedroom window are annoying as hell.  They’re also annoying when they do it at midnight…0100…0200…0400…  Actually they don’t have a time setting so they’re likely to do it any old time they feel like it.
  • People that don’t know where they live.  Really?  Learn your street address!
  • Tourists that don’t know how to use roundabouts.  Granted it took me a bit to figure out how they work and switching lanes and such, but I hate getting behind cars with white tags when I’m in a roundabout.  White tagged cars are rental cars.
  • I don’t really complain about the cost of living here or the fact that things are much more expensive than what I would pay for in the states because I EXPECT it to cost more.  So when people bitch and complain about the cost of things, especially when they’ve been here for a while… get over it.  90% of the people I’ve heard complain are those who chose to move here.

Things that I miss include:

  • My family, of course
  • My friends
  • One of the big things that has stuck out lately is that I miss the work interaction with the police/paramedics/firefighters that I was/am friends with.  I miss joking around with or hassling my favorite medics when they would call in for times on a call.  I miss officers calling in and saying “That person is flat out bat shit crazy” or being filled in on what happened on the scene of an incident.  We don’t have that here.
  • Chickfila.  I miss Chickfila.
  • And I can’t forget my dogs.  I’m having to resubmit the boy’s application.  The picture made him kind of look like a pit mix so I’m figuring I can wait a few weeks and then resubmit it.  He may have to be under an alias name, but I think he can live with that.

As you can see overall there aren’t too awful many negatives about living here.  And with 15 months left on my contract, I have about 9 months until I have to decide on whether or not to request a renewal.  A lot can happen in that time frame so we will see how it goes.

Cheers

Tori

9 months down – Things I like

I’m shy of being 9 months into a two year contract dispatching in the Caymans and am feeling much more comfortable here.

Has it been an easy nine months?  No.  I’ve had a fair amount of homesickness and frustration, but I’m mentally in a much better place these days.  June has been a good month thus far and I’m hoping that it just gets better.

So far I’ve had several friends and family members come and visit – Craig and then the sibling duo of Ryanne and Jeff Skalberg – as well as my parents.  I like showing people around the island.  All of the beautiful places remind me of what originally drew me here.  It is so easy to forget the good parts of the island when I am take calls from people having some sort of crisis.  As I write this, I’m also on the count down for my next visitor, Lisa.  After she leaves, my niece Reba will come for a few days.

It’s just shy of 0300 right now and I was thinking about the things I find enjoyable about living here, other than clear blue water and white sandy beaches.  I’m also including some other fun tidbits of information on this list.

  • Salutations.  “Good Day/Morning” “Good Afternoon” and “Good Night” are all correct ways to greet people, depending on the time of day of course.  The first two were not a change for me, however, being greeted with “Good Night” threw me off for weeks.  Back at home, I’m used to using that as a farewell of sorts but I’ve grown accustomed to it.  These greetings are also the general preface of any phone call you receive.
  • Entering a room.  If you are the person who enters a room that has others in it, then YOU are the person who should offer the salutation first.  If you walk into a room and do not greet the people in there yet later attempt to have a conversation with the occupants, you’re going to be looked at like you’re crazy.  This includes being in an elevator with someone.
  • Much like the south, it is customary to use Ms. or Mr. when speaking to someone or when you refer to someone, especially if they’re older.
  • Instead of being addressed with sugar, honey, sweetie, or darlin’, here you will hear Madam, My Love, My Dear.
  • Most SUVs are commonly referred to as Jeeps.
  • June may be my favorite time of the year – MANGOS
  • I still giggle internally when I hear that someone has “licked” someone.  Lick being the term for hit.  As in: “I licked the back of his car in the roundabout” or “‘e got licked with a machete” – By the way, don’t pronounce it with a long E at the end.  The person you’re talking to will just get exasperated and think you’re talking about something else entirely.
  • Casual clothes – every day.  I basically live in a running skirt, tank top and flipflops when I’m not at work or the beach.  On the rare occasion that I go out, I tend to just throw on a sundress or capris.
  • No make up most days. On days I work, I *MAY* throw on some eyeshadow, and mascara and if I go out at night then I’ll include eyeliner but  I haven’t touched foundation or anything else since I have been here.  It’s too hot.  I don’t care what sort of base you have underneath it but foundation or regular powder is gonna run and then it’ll be a huge mess and no one wants to see you looking like that.  Not that I really wear make up anywhere else…  It’s just not me.
  • Fresh fruit, right from the tree.  There is nothing like going outside and picking your own mango, rinsing it off and then biting into it.  No, don’t worry about peeling it or cutting it up… Okay you may have to cut the skin of it slightly to get into it, but use your hands and teeth.  Sure, it’s messy but it is delightful.  I’m looking forward to going and eating one while standing in the ocean to get the taste combo of sea salt and mango sweetness.  Apparently it’s a pretty popular thing with the locals so I’ve gotta do it.

Hunting for Land Crabs

I was fortunate enough to grow up in coastal Georgia where seafood was plentiful and catching my own for supper was always exciting.  Especially when it comes to crabbing.  The method that I first remember was going out in the boat, tying a chicken neck to a weighted rope and dropping it into the water in the creek.  The trick was to keep a light touch on the rope so you could feel the crabs on the line.  Then you would slowly pull up the line while someone dipped a net in the water to scoop up the crabs.  We didn’t always catch every single one, but it was still great fun.

When my parents built their house on a tidal creek, we built a dock and originally started catching crabs in this manner, however once we discovered crab nets….  Well let’s just say we became more efficient crabbers.  To this day, I love going home and sitting out on the dock and crabbing.  It’s a very lazy activity but it’s always entertaining for the participants.  One of my favorite recent memories was last summer when my dearest friends Jenni and Jill and I crabbed one evening and the trio of us 30+ year old women were more excited about it than Jenni’s young boys.

Prior to moving to Grand Cayman, I read as much as I could about the area and one thing that kept coming up in my reading was information about Land Crabs.  When I started working here, I asked about the creatures and what was actually done with them, and I was told – “They come out after the rainy season and we hunt them during the night then later cook them”…

Awesome.

A bit about our prey from Wikipedia…

Gecarcinus ruricola is a species of terrestrial crab. It is the most terrestrial of the Caribbean land crabs, and is found from western Cuba across the Antilles as far east as Barbados. Common names for G. ruricola include the purple land crab, black land crab, red land crab, and zombie crab.

Four colour morphs exist within the species: black, red, yellow and green.  The carapace of G. ruricola grows in width at a rate of about 1 inch (25 mm) per year, with the crabs reaching maturity after 5 years, and living for up to 10 years in total.  G. ruricola have a number of adaptations to terrestrial life, mostly regarding water conservation. They are nocturnal, to prevent the hot sun from drying them out. They also have a “nephritic pad”, onto which urine is released, in order to be cleaned by microbes before the water is then reabsorbed.

The rainy season is upon us now and has been for a few days.  I saw my first land crab a few days ago on my drive home.  The next day at work, I excitedly told my supervisor about it and asked when we were going hunting.  She told me that it was now the season and she’d let me know.  A few days later she gave me the news – “Wednesday night, we’re going.  Be ready.”  We were to meet up at Chelsea’s house with the group that was heading out.  As Candi was working and her cousin, Apple, is in town I decided to bring her with me.  We opted to take my car as there was a large group of people and this proved to be a wise decision as one group had to join with us when their car started overheating.

We loaded up and headed to South Church Street.  Apple and I were introduced to the rest of the people with us, all police officers that I had been talking to for months but hadn’t met in person.  All of them were super nice and very friendly.  At first our hunting was going rather slowly.  No crabs were seen.  We walked along the roadway, shining lights into the bushes and listening for them.  So we walked along and talked about moving to a new location until there was a great cry of excitement – “I see one!  I seen one!  Bring me a stick!”  *The stick the grabber tool that is commonly used for trash collection on the side of the roadways and/or by people with limited mobility who need to retrieve things.*

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Success!  And it turns out that the stick wasn’t needed at all.  Naddine simply held the crab down with her foot then reached down and picked it up by the rear legs.  Of course, at this point we didn’t have a bucket with us (those guys hadn’t shown up yet) so we used an upside down traffic cone as a container.  Next thing you know, everyone had gone into the bush and all we kept hearing was “Here’s one!”  “Bring me a stick!” “Bucket!  Bucket!  Bucket!”

After the success in this area, we decided to move east.  Three of the guys with us had to move to my car because their vehicle was overheating.  It’s a good thing I have an SUV because my car also became the transportation for our haul.  We had one large garbage can and two smaller buckets.  As we drove along, we could hear the crabs scratching at the sides of the trash can and Apple did not care for the noise.  Said that she was scared by it.  I assured her that everything would be okay because if they managed to escape the can, they’d have to go through three grown men to get to her.

We stopped at a few more places as we headed east, but nothing was really panning out until we reached the area of Barefoot Beach.  There were crabs in the road, crabs on the side of the road, crabs in the bushes.  White crabs, red crabs, black crabs… Crabs everywhere.  Some people picked them up with sticks, some people just reached down and grabbed them.  I was taking pictures along the way but held one down so that Naddine could retrieve it.  It was great, great fun.  I have no clue how many were caught.

The group we went with divided the catch up amongst themselves.  The next steps will be to purge the crabs before they cook and eat them.  This is because land crabs are omnivorous scavengers and will eat anything.  So they’ll be kept in a cage or something and will be fed clean vegetation to clean them out.  I’m also told this makes the meat sweeter.

And while there were no crabs for me to help cook and clean this time, we’re planning another hunting trip with a much smaller group.  A few days later, after they’re purged, then we will have a party and feast.  And I am looking forward to that very, very much.

Tropical greetings!

Tori