Sunday, December 21, 2014

Look out Tim Horton's, Kirstie is on her way!

I'm really enjoying the Christmas festivities around the island. The Caymanians take this holiday very seriously, and by seriously, I mean, let's light this island up, people!

The centre of every roundabout on the "main drag" is sponsored by a company here on the island. That company is responsible for decorating the crap out of that roundabout. Our bank, Butterfields, for example, created a breathtaking display of lights on their roundabout - there's something magical about a dozen blinking palm trees! However, not to be outdone, Cayman National, one of it's rival banks, went all out with "dripping" icicles and a light display illustrating the police catching a burglar? (don't ask). Anyways, after seeing Cayman National's light display, Ev cheekily commented, "Well that bank is obviously doing better than ours. Time to switch banks?" In addition to the roundabouts, people decorate their cars here. For real. Like with antlers and rudolph noses. Who doesn't want to get flipped off in traffic by the dude driving the reindeer Beemer?

Cuz why wouldn't you?
a Christmas round-about 

There are also a few million dollar mansions, for which I can tell, the owners decide to turn into a Christmas attraction. They don't charge admission, they don't even ask for a donation, these people just open up their hundred square foot yards to the island, provide treats and drinks, and welcome the public to wander around, enjoying their  fabulous Christmas light display. Very generous - and an excellent activity for families. I was more enthralled with peering in the windows of these houses. What are these very wealthy people doing while we wander around their yard? For the record, one guy was watching Law and Order as I snooped around his "Christmas pool" - see, they are just like us!  For anyone who frequented Rick's Lounge, Candle Lake in the 90's, it totally reminded me of that window where you could drink a beer and watch Rick's mom (the lovely Kay), sip her wine and watch a movie in her silky robe. Haha!

Dundee is dressed and ready for his twinkle tour

"Where's the lights?"

Wandering through someone's yard

Yes, we are in the nativity scene - seems sacreligious, but everyone was doin' it

Working in the schools here at Christmas is nuts, people! NUTS! I've previously worked in the schools back in Canada and have since forgotten just how excited these kiddos (and teachers!) are as their 2 week vacation approaches. Basically, it began December 1, "Hey Ms. Teacher, I'm here to take Jeshaun to speech therapy." "Sorry, Jeshaun is at the 3 week before Christmas special Santa snack time today!" I've come to the conclusion that any attempt to provide speech therapy between December 1 and December 19 is a complete write-off. I'm not complaining - I did enjoy some fabulous Christmas concert rehearsals (Teachers, I have a complete new respect for what you do. EEEKKKS!) Overall, despite the lack of snow and the fact that our Santa wears a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops, you would be hard- pressed NOT to feel the Christmas spirit on Grand Cayman.

Ho Ho Ho and a bottle of rum

That being said, I am pretty damn excited to get off of this island for a week and have a proper White Christmas! Ev and I fly out on Christmas Eve and will arrive in Calgary at midnight, just in time for Santa. We're excited to spend  Christmas with Ev's family this year, and were happy to find a flight home that didn't cost us a shmillion dollars. I'm a little concerned; however, as the weather network is predicting a large storm for Toronto on Christmas Eve (site of our connecting flight). They've actually pre-named this storm #SantaBomb. Yes, it has it's own hashtag, so obviously it's legit. Shit. I really hope they are totally wrong about #santabomb. I've decided to channel my mother and start worrying about this storm now, as worrying about it will surely make it go away (right, mom? haha).

There are a few very important things that I will definitely be taking advantage of in Canada - things that I've been yearning for over the last 5 months:

1) Tim Horton's - watch out Timmies! I'm comin' for at least a dozen extra large steeped teas double double. Oh, steeped tea laced with crack cocaine, how I've missed you!

2) Starbucks - Sorry, Starbucks, you came a close second to Timmies; however, I will happily grip your sweet little cardboard sleeve and enjoy your festive cup as I sip a London Fog. Mmmmmm.

3) Scarves - I will wear the hell out of my scarves. I might even wear 2 at a time. Ascot wrap? Double knot and tie? Oh, I will envelop myself in scarves any which way I desire. Oh scarf collection, how my bare little neck has missed you!

4) Target/Winners/Walmart/any large and busy store - Is that a "sale" sign? There are clothing items that have been marked down? You don't say! I have been desperately missing shopping. Can you believe that I have not properly shopped since the beginning of August? My TD debit card is cold. Cold, people! Bring on a deal!

5) Japanese mandarin oranges - apparently the cargo ship did not stop in Japan. No mandarin oranges here. Just you wait, I shall lovingly unwrap that green noisy paper and carefully peel that mandarin orange (try to do it in just 1 peel!!) I will pop that juicy little orange wedge in my mouth and sigh with pleasure.

So if you spot an oddly tanned blonde with terrible roots (hair colour is uber expensive here!), donning 3-4 scarves, wandering around Target, appearing completely overstimulated, double fisting Timmies/Starbucks, and eating an orange - it's me!

Merry Christmas my friends!

This is what Ev and I do on weekends, obviously.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Leapin' Lizards

Whoa, I can't believe that it's December already. With no real change in seasons, time appears seamless here. It feels like there is never a beginning or an end. It was just August, wasn't it? - when suddenly, BAM! Santa's walking around in a Hawaiian shirt and the reggae singer in Camana Bay is singing, "Baby don't worry...about a thing....Santa's little sleigh's gonna come tonight."

I had another visitor on the island! My dad came down for a week - we had a fantastic week! I haven't had a chance to spend a lot of alone time with my dad as an adult and I really enjoyed our time together. I gave him the full island tour - after seeing his terrified reaction to a starfish, I quickly decided that he would not enjoy the stingrays, so we settled for a mudslide at Rum Point instead. We managed to hit up all the hot spots on the island in 5 days, despite the 70km hour winds that blew in for a week. When I was a little girl, I was fortunate enough to be taken on a hot vacation every year. I always remember how much fun my dad was on vacations - hours of being tossed into the pool from his shoulders and exploring the beaches. It was nice to reminisce and relive some of those activities (although, No shoulder stands in the pool) and I feel blessed that my dad was able to experience my new life with me.
Dad likes the local beer!

eeeeks! A terrifying starfish! haha.

Smith's Cove -watching the storm roll in

It's been 4 months since our arrival and I'm starting to feel like I actually live here. I've compiled a list of the top 10 indicators that I am settling in and am on my way to becoming an "islander":

1) I avoid walking under palm trees. Eventually an iguana will fall out of that palm tree. I do not want to be the one to break its fall. I can't even count how many times I've watched an iguana fall out of a palm tree. They're pretty resilient, by the way. (Aside: I saw 2 chickens chase an iguana up a tree this week - non-stop action, people!)

Look up! Look way up - and you'll spot an iguana
2) I make fun of the guy in the rental car who turns his wipers on whenever he intends to make a turn, "Haha! signal light on left buddy!" (I was totally doing the same thing 3 months ago!)

3) I've resigned myself to the fact that I will need to set aside at least 4 hours to pay my bills/pay my car insurance/pick up a prescription, etc. Initially I thought it was outrageous that I had to visit 2 different banks on opposite ends of the island, carrying $1600 CI cash in my wallet from bank to bank in order to simply pay my rent. No there is NOT a more efficient way. This is how it's done. Suck it up, buttercup and take an afternoon off of work...and be prepared to wait in line.

4) I yell at cruise ship tourists (from my car. With the windows closed. Ok, they can't hear me). Don't get me wrong, I am still in awe every time I turn the corner in George Town and spot 3-6 enormous ships floating in the turquoise waters. It amazes me that I live in a place where cruise ships frequent. Awesome! However, when I am running late to the office and a dozen Hawaiian shirt clad tourists (why do they always wear Hawaiian shirts??) are standing, oblivious, in the middle of the road, looking for rum cake, I clench my teeth and mutter, "This isn't a movie set. This is a ROAD. Don't they have roads where you come from? You can't just stand in the middle of a road!"

5) I get excited about a 3 degree change in temperature. Island friends warned me that December would be our "cold" month. December is considered winter here on the island. Last week, I was pleasantly surprised when I stepped out to take Dundee for his morning walk only to discover that the air had changed! For the last week, the temperature has hovered consistently around the 24-27 degree Celsius mark (previously 27-30 degrees). Whoa! Time to get my scarves out! Yes, I do realize that it was about 50-60 degrees colder back home. I lived it for 35 years - the feeling of snot freezing to your face within 3 seconds of walking outside is still fresh in my brain - so I'm NOT complaining at all.  But it is curious to live in a place where such a subtle change signals a change in season - it makes it very difficult to orientate yourself to the time of year. If someone threw an Easter Bunny decoration on their grass, I would totally just assume that's Easter now. It's strange.

I'm legit!  It only took approximately 7.5 hours to get this licence 

6) Traffic lights drive me batty. There are about 4 sets of traffic lights on this island. Traffic around the island is mostly regulated by round-abouts. The round about is brilliant. It's efficient and it keeps things moving (you know, so you can quickly drive to your destination and wait in a line for 4 hours - haha). A traffic light, on the other hand, makes no sense. Why am I waiting? There isn't actually any oncoming traffic, but this light here says I have to wait? Boo Traffic lights - you are not the boss of me!

7) I'm on a first name basis with the parking security man at Owen Roberts International Airport. There are a few options when you are picking up passengers at the airport: a) you can park and pay a shmillion dollars for 5 minutes or b) you can park your car directly in front of the airport and pretend that your passenger will be right out. like NOW. I've been frequenting the airport and Mr. Vern, the parking dude, is on to me. "Miss, you can't wait here." "Mr. Vern, my husband will be right out!" Sometimes I even wave, pretending Evan is walking towards the car, when in reality he's still in customs.

8) I'm becoming accustomed to living with sand. There is constantly sand everywhere! In my bellybutton, in our car, and annoyingly, in our bed. I can wash the sheets doesn't matter. Sandy toes. Sandy hair. Sandy ears. I like to think of it as "bedtime exfoliation."

9) Instead of shovelling snow, we shovel iguana sh*t. For real.  You see: after 1) the iguana falls out of the palm tree, it craps on your car, on your patio, and next to the pool. The iguana smiles mischievously   with a gleam in his beady little eyes as he saunters away from his stinky little package.

10) For as long as I can remember, my go-to response to the question, "How's it going?" or "What's up?" has been, "Just livin' the dream." Even when I was bound to crutches, hobbling down the halls of the hospital, stoned out of my tree, although dripping with sarcasm, I would reply with the same phrase. People's reactions varied. Mostly, if it was the middle of winter, when I commented with, "Just livin' the dream," the response varied from, "As if," "More like a nightmare!" or "some dream." Overall, winter in Saskatchewan just does not promote happiness. My perception is most people suffering through a Saskatchewan winter feel like they are being punished, "Why? Why?" That just sucks. Yesterday, on the other hand, I walked into the gym and the trainer said, "Hey, what's going on?" and I replied, as per usual with, "Just livin' the dream." He stopped what he was doing, smiled, and replied, "We really are, aren't we? Thanks for the reminder." So 4 hour line ups and iguana crap may not be your vision of "livin' the dream," but it's feeling pretty right to me.