Thursday, June 14, 2012
CAYMAN ISLANDS, FAVORITE DAY 2 & HOME
I wanted to leave the details of Day 2, May 1st, at the Cayman Islands last, because I do believe it was my FAVORITE day. Although each & every day had something unique & special to talk about, Day 2 was my most memorable.
This is what was listed on our itinerary:
Morning at Leisure
1pm-5pm FatFish Jet Ski Adventure - bring unexpensive sunglasses...wear shorts that can get wet, etc...
The Quiet One & I discussed what we were expecting. We thought it was a long time to jet ski but then again, it would be fun. We were picked up by our tour guide. His name unfortunately escapes me, so for the blog's sake, we shall call him Aqua Man! He stopped to pick up a few other couples who were joining us, and then right in the middle of the gas station was a rooster. I made the Quiet One get out & take a photo...little did I realize they are free to roam on the islands...and for me, it made it kind of cool.
When we arrived to our destinations, we were given snorkel gear. Snorkel gear? Aqua Man explained we were going to jet ski, snorkel & a few other things. Oh, okay. Quiet One & I looked at each other & smiled. Cool. There was a jet ski for each person. Now, I had only jet skied once in my life...and it was in a lake in Florida. No waves. Sweet & calm. I did love it, but my gut told me not to drive it. So I sat behind the Quiet One, trusting him with my life.
"Okay, everybody, we are going to make a right here, and when I give the signal (his arm straight up & down), we're going to open her up!" Open her up?? Open who up? What up? Why? He continued, "Now there are no laws here on speed limit & these babies can go up to 55 mph. From here we're going to Starfish Point, then Stingray City, snorkeling among the coral reefs & lunch..." My ears stopped hearing him after I heard 55 mph. Now I'm all for adventure, but not really when it comes to water, because of the lack of my swimming skills. Mental note; must take swimming lessons real soon. So, there I was, sitting behind the Quiet One & he had the widest smile I've ever seen on him. Apparently, he's an experienced jet skier & while that reassured me, it made me a bit apprehensive because, while the Quiet One is quiet, he LOVES speed! So all of us couples drove around to the right & waited for Aqua Man to arrive and give us the cue. I was calm. Happy. And the Quiet One turned to me & asked, "You ready, baby?" "Yep." Aqua man came around the bend, standing on the jet ski like some daredevil...then he gave the signal. Holy @$#!!!
...And they're off. I was happy, smiling. Everyone once in a while I screamed like a girl & I yelped here & there too. And once the jet ski reaches a certain speed, it begins to jump. Simultaneously, I liked it and I didn't...but I'm on it now, no turning back. Some boat came by...and all I know is SPLAT...I was in the water. It happened all so fast, I don't recall even being in the air. I know I flew, but the time between the jet ski and the water was immediate. I was in the water. Don't know how deep. I just noticed how immediately quiet it is down there. I opened my eyes. Don't know why. And to my left, I saw the color red. it was almost like a smoke of red. I was impressed how clear it was underwater - I had no goggles on. But I could see so clearly. This was the conversation I had with myself:
Self: "Are you alright?"
Me: "Um, what? Am I really in the water?"
Self: "Yes. Now, don't panic. Remember all those tv shows you watched? You already know that panicking will not work. All people who panic, drown or die...so don't panic."
Me: "Okay. I won't panic. I'll wait. Eventually someone will find me...but, Oh, my God, I'm still under water...shouldn't I be up right now?"
Self: "Shhh, relax..."
Me: "Shut up!!! Oh, my God, why aren't I at the top? Where is the top???"
And I slowly felt the sheer panic rise within me...and just before I lost all sense of sensiblities, I got sucked to the top as if God were vacuuming. And then I could have laughed at myself. Duh...I forgot I had a life jacket on. And there I was floating - all alone. I was relexed now...as long as I could breathe, I was okay, even though no one was in sight. And then, like a knight on a white horse, the Quiet one rode the water to me.
"Hon, you ok? All I know is I felt you holding me, and then you weren't. I'm sorry. You ok?"
All I oculd do was nod, before I realized I was just a tad traumatized...feeling helpless was not fun at all. And while some may argue, 'Judy, you had a life jacket - nothing to have worried about...', the truth is I completely forgot about it, so while I was under the water, it was pretty freaking scary. Just me, the water, the silence & God. Didn't here Him but I sure hoped He was with me.
Aqua Man was practically right behind him. Reality hit. And just like that, I felt launched back into my high school days. I became "fat girl" again. I felt out of place, compared to the rest of our group. And the proof was that the other couples wer at least a 1/2 mile away from us. I could tell that the Quiet One wanted to go faster...when I previously told him, if he wanted to go faster, he could. His response to me was 'No, mami, we're together, we stay together.' And instead of being joyful with his response, for the first time I wondered if I held him back...back from having fun, back from going faster. Ugh - I hate when I'm so hard on myself.
Aqua Man asked, "You alright? No worries, it happens all the time. Now you gotta get back on the jet ski." I recalled the time I'd gone to the Bahamas & there was a small crowd that had gathered near the water - they were laughing at a girl, who was jet skiing alone, who'd fallen off & struggled for quite some time to get back on. I recall feeling very sorry for her, and while some laughed, I wondered why no one dove in to help. Well, now I was that girl, except I had help from not one, but two strong men. "Okay, Judy, with one hand you're gonna place it in the middle & push it down. With your weight you're going to bring your knee up onto the platform & then push your other knee." Sounds easy. NOT! First of all, may I just say I carry some cushioning with me, and as a woman I don't have much upper body strength.
I gave it my all. I would not be Fat Girl anymore. First time, nothing...Second time, good effort but no results. Third time, I managed to somehow get my left let up onto the jet ski, fully extended as if I was doing a split. Impressive, yes, but the Quiet One laughed a little and said, "How in the world are you going to get your other leg up?" I laughed too...it was a funny sight. Thank God, I'm not on that reality show yet, you would have all been cracking up. But after the fourth time, I was tired...and don't know how but I suddenly realized both of my knees were bleeding. Was that the "red" I saw in the water?? I didn't want to give up. I was keeping the rest of the group waiting for me. But I was TIRED now. And just as I began to shake my head in defeat, the Quiet One turned backwards on the jet ski, and asserted to me like a drill sergeant: "Judy, look at me. Right here. You WILL do this. You CAN do this, understand?" He held his hands out to me. "Grab my hands." I took hold of his strong hands & began to pull me up - he should have fallen off, but he didn't. And next thing I know Aqua Man had a hand on my butt. Hey, whatever you have to do to get my ass back on this thing, is fine with me. Victory. I'm back on. I was still traumatized, but relieved, but I also felt like, "Mommy? I need my mommy...I just want to go home." But I didn't want to ruin anything, and I told myself to suck it up & be a woman....a braver one, anyway.
We were off again...I decided to stay in the moment & not think about the fear that lingered that I might fall off again. So I looked around. Wow. Nothing but ocean. There was no land to be seen. Don't even know where we were & I wondered how these tour guides know the ocean by heart like that. But it was pretty...and I realized I may never do this again. And I held on to my Quiet One, who checked with me periodically to see if I was alright. We stopped at Starfish Point. The water was shallow *thank you, Lord!). We finally walked in the water, and Aqua Man immediately began to show us gorgeous, huge coral-colored starfish. He explained that they cannot be out of the water, but for a few seconds. He said hold it & put it back in the water so they don't die. We took pictures of them, with them...it was very cool. In the water, starfish feel soft. Out of the water, their outer skin hardens...I was intrigued.
We were back on the jet skis - this time it wasn't difficult to mount them because we were in shallow water. After a few minutes, we stopped in another area. Aqua Man told us to shut off the engines, while he tied each of them together. He pulled out a bag of something - ooh, it was squid. Why does he have squid? "Welcome to Stingray City, everyone!" Hm, initially I thought to myself I had no desire to see stingray. What for? "The rays will come right up to you." And then one, two three rays swooped by my legs. They were so soft, graceful actually. "Do not worry...they are docile & pretty friendly AND they want to be fed. Anyone want to feed them?" Ooh, ooh me - pick me, I thought. I became an instant fan of stingrays. I raised my hand.
"Okay, you're going to make a fist, thumbside up, but keep your thumb inside the rest of your fingers so it is not exposed. Hold the squid gently & they will come get it once they smell it." I was so excited. I LOVE animals...I love feeling a connection with them. I wanted this moment so bad, because I knew that I was blessed to even be in this position. Many people will go their entire lives without a chance like this...and when I'm an old lady, I want lots of cool stories to tell the kiddies, lol. So as grossed out as I was to have to hold a squid, I took it gladly in exchange to feed one. And there it was approaching, quietly, slowly, almost like it was flying. I was as giddy as a child on Christmas. And then it happened.
I had no idea that instead of "biting" they suction their food. It happened so fast it felt like a vacuum. And with my complete surprise, I opened my fist...too early apparently and my right index finger was sucked up with the squid. Now. You tell me. We feed dogs, birds, cats, etc...and they clearly use their mouth & bite onto the food - they don't SUCK it into their mouths. If your finger got sucked into something, isn't it second nature to instantly pull it out?? And that is exactly what I did. I withdrew my finger so quickly, I felt an instant...a sudden...oh, I don't know I never felt it before. All I know is that I looked at my finger as I felt a bit of pain. And it was bleeding. There were 3 distinct slices on my finger & the middle one was a bit deep. When I later googled "stingray teeth", I saw that they are not really teeth but they look like tiny accordian things. Wow...LOL....I can't believe it. Cool!!! Cool!! "Look, sweetheart! Look what the stingray did to me. It bit me." And then I hear Aqua Man add to his speech, "Okay guys, the stingray eat with suction - so if your hand gets sucked into the mouth just wait, don't pull it out." Okay. Now I know. Sure. But I was so excited to have "battle scars" from a stingray, I didn't give a darn. I felt like it was a kiss - a momento...and although the Quiet One laughed at my sillyness & goofy reaction, no one could steal my joy. Oh, I forgot to add that one of the girls in the group, was not very sociable. She was very pretty, perfect body, and she drove the jet ski like she'd been driving it since the day she was born. I wasn't hating, but I did feel like "Is ANYTHING wrong with thic chick?" And then I heard screaming, the type you hear in a horror movie. The girl was FREAKED out by the stingrays...and well, I am sorry, I couldn't help but smile internally - she's not that perfect. Was I a mean girl to think that?
We got back onto the jet skis & Aqua Man took us to another location where we were to snorkel. Wow. What a day! Snorkeling too? I had snorkeled before so I was calm about it. And in an instant, the dark, bulky, black & gray clouds leered over us. It was the only time while on the island I witnessed them. But they were there, stalking our little snorkel adventure. We got our fins and equipment on and Boom! It began to pour! It was an avalanche of rain. The rain was pounding us so hard, it literally hurt. And the waves began to shake & dance in fear...and before I could catch my breath from the sudden change of weather, I had already swallowed water. The waves hit me. "Judy, just put your head in the water, it's calmer there," the Quiet One called out to me. I had no choice. I put my head in the water, and I swore I heard the soundtrack from the Little Mermaid. "Under the Sea...under the Sea..." The sight was impressive! So many beautiful fish...gorgeous hues of yellows, violets, turquoises...and the coral was increidbile. Aqua Man dived deep down & pointed to a small cave...and as we looked closer, we realized it was a Lion Fish...the fish are beautiful...but if you touch the tips of their fins, they are very poisonous...When I finally brought my head back up the storm had passed.
We walked onto Rum Point, where we had lunch. The menus were attached to coconuts & I finally indulged in a MudSlide. I felt I deserved it. We spoke with Aqua Man, who was only 26, but he knew the island better than anyone. After an hour or so, Aqua Man instructed us to get back on the jet skis. I asked him, "So, where to now?" He replied, "We go back to where we started." "How long will that take?" "About 20 minutes." I could have cried, but I put on my warrior of water face & said, "Let's do this." The Quiet One promised me I would be okay....and he actually drove faster this time. I told myself to surrender to it. If I was going to fall off, so be it. And as we jumped through the water, I heard the Quiet One yell, "Yea baby!!!" He was enjoying himself, something I don't always see him do...and I was satisfied. When we returned to the hotel, I was genuinely tired and I was genuinely fulfilled. Now, THAT is what I call an adventure. If I were to recommend anything to you regarding the Cayman Islands, I would definitely tell you to make this part of your activities while you are here. So well worth it. And if I had to go home that day, alhtough only my second day, I would have returned with a satisfied smile on my face!
Day 7, Sunday, May 6th
And speaking of returning home, it was time to go back to reality. We were packed very early the next morning. And we dined for the last time at our little Eats Cafe. The Quiet One & I joked about how much weight we'd probably gained...we felt it was worth it...at least until we once again stepped onto a scale. We were picked up by our driver, Carole, who I tipped & thanked & hugged. She told us if we ever returned to look her up...and I will! At the airport, I HAD to buy some sort of jewelry to mark this trip. Each time I take a trip, I always buy myself something unique to remember it by. I found a silver necklace, with a stingray charm made of a stone only found in the Dominican Republic...Oh, yes, and I stopped by the Tortuga store to purchase rum cakes for all my friends & family.
We landed at JFK just 3 hours later. We went through customs, picked up the car & drove back home. Although I was sad to leave, I was glad to be home too. As I unpacked I heard something fall...it made a clanking sound...and it slipped under my bed. When I picked it up there it was. As silver & pretty as could be - it was that silver spoon I wanted to take home, but was refused by the waitress at Eats Cafe. Ha, ha, ha, ha!! Where did this come from? I looked at the Quiet One. He had a smug-I-have-no-idea look on his face. I know he did it. And while I don't condone stealing - I thought it was romantic that my boyfriend found a way to make sure I had my silly spoon. And no every morning when I have my cafe con leche, I use that spoon & every morning I am reminded of the perfect trip I took...the spring of 2012 at the Cayman Islands....ah, yes, life is good!!