{22/02/2013}   Thoughts on going to the Cayman Islands

I am not a hot weather person, I hate touristy restaurants, I don’t want to scuba dive, I burn easily, I don’t like cocktails, I’m prone to sunstroke, I hate fish soup (people always go on about fish head soup and such like when on Caribbean islands), I am conscious I don’t have a bikini body and I hate resorts.  I have agreed to do a job (a week, of which only two days will be at leisure) on Grand Cayman and everyone I tell is more excited for me than I am for me.  However, looking out the window on a windy, grey day, I looked at the resort hotel my colleague and I are staying in and I had a moment of excitement, seeing blue sky, pale sandy beaches and beautiful blue pools.

I know a few people who have worked in the Cayman Islands and a friend’s brother lives there so I have had more insights about the place than, say, for my Ethiopia work trip.  I had hoped the weather, it being the Caribbean winter, wouldn’t get above 24 degrees, which is roughly my limit of tolerance.  It appears to be more like 29 degrees.  If you are reading this thinking how lovely that would be, the odds are you wouldn’t find -5 degrees a joy.  I would.  However, despite bursts of rain, it will largely be sunny and hot.  Admittedly, the thought of sunshine and blue skies is incredibly appealing at present; dull and windy is never pleasant.

As I do have a bit of an insight, I don’t think I will find it hugely different to how I imagine.  However, I’m not convinced it will be somewhere I will fall in love with and want to stay, beyond the loveliness of the Caribbean Sea and coastline.  I would be disappointed if the beaches weren’t of the Caribbean idyll and I have no reason to believe they won’t be.  Of all Caribbean islands, the Cayman Islands appeal the least, largely because I expect Grand Cayman in particular to be swamped by wealthy tourists, largely American, and a lot of wealthy second-homer types, of which I know of one.  I also think most restaurants that will be within walking distance of our “suites” will be of tourist quality with tourist prices and this will serve to make me very angry.  (Yes, yes, I’m going through a particularly ranty phase at the moment and the odds are high I will return waxing lyrical about my Caribbean mini break, ie the two non-working days, and I should just be happy about going somewhere sunny and more exotic than Leeds or Manchester, where I have most often been on away-jobs)

I didn’t used to get why multimillionaire types bought islands.  I now get it, it’s because the Caribbean is such a popular tourist destination, particularly for cruises, that where tourists visit, so resorts emerge and where resorts emerge, prices go up, food quality goes down and your idyll of lying on a white sandy beach with warm sea lapping nearby is easily ruined by noisy tourists and beach vendors selling tat.  I have been to the Caribbean before, to Dominican Republic.  We went on an all inclusive holiday and, while it suited our purposes at that time, it didn’t make me want to return to the Caribbean.  However, while delicate from excessive fruit consumption and unwittingly (deceptive overcast sky) slowly burning, we had one amazing day on an uninhabited island which we got to by boat (I suspect that’s obvious!).  That was more like it.  A day like that, though without the delicate tummy and sunburn, might make the 12-hour flight worth it, but I’m not optimistic we’ll find a little piece of beach tranquility in a resort along Seven Mile (5.5 miles in reality) Beach.

But, despite all my negativity, seeing photos on the hotel website has given me a glimmer of hope that it mightn’t be too bad a work destination after all.  I like the idea of walking along the beach in the early morning to get to work …


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