The Cayman Islands

The most astonishing thing one notices upon arrival is the color of the water; I have never seen such pristine, crystal blue liquid before. As with all our previous stops, we had pre-arranged the day’s tour – this time, a turtle farm and the stingray encounter. In typical cruise fashion, we waited for the requisite bus to carry us to our destination. Our first stop, the turtle farm, was a fabulous experience (albeit, a tad touristy, but I can look beyond that just to see these amazing primordial creatures). For $3.00, you can buy a bag of kibble to feed the larger animals and they allow you to hold and pet the smaller, four month-old turtles. Given the instruction that when they start flapping a bit, a simple stroke under the chin calms them down.

We only spent about 45 minutes at the turtle farm, but it was sufficient. What was unanticipated was that before heading to the stingray encounter, we were forced to two other stops; the Tortuga Rum Cake Factory (they called it a factory, but it was nothing just a store with too many people) and Hell, another area of pre-historic rocks – probably volcanic although they looked meteoric – where green iguanas hold court. An interesting site, but the annoyance of getting on and off the van every few minutes was grating on me.

After a relatively quick ride, I got to the boat that would take us to Stingray . We approached the sandbar and saw another half-dozen boats with large groups already in the water. At first, it was an extremely disquieting experience and I readily admit to shrieking hysterically… I was the first one off the boat and into the pristine water and realizing there was fresh food to be had, under my feet were dozens of giant stingrays looking for lunch. What was disconcerting was that in the water, I was unsure where the bottom was so, paddling my feet frantically, I could feel the giant, rubbery creatures sliding in and out of my legs. It was only when I realized that the floor of the sandbar was about four feet and I could stand freely and move away from the mass of creatures that I started to calm down. Oh yeah, and it helped that others were entering the water and offering a distraction.

This was a fabulous experience. I have never seen such bleach white sand through pale blue crystal water. We were offered snorkels which helped with the interaction of the stingrays. Somehow, when you can watch them coming towards you, it is less frightening when they start to glom onto you, looking for food. This apparently is a big attraction in the Caymans and my biggest regret is that I did not book this type of tour privately, allowing me a little more time in the town. Booking through the cruiseline itself limits how much time you have in the town itself.

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