I’m Emily, a twenty something professional musician – and you probably won’t think me totally bonkers when I tell you I recently decided to abandon my life in Britain to move to the Caribbean. Who wouldn’t want to drop everything to move to a tropical island, am I right?!
Well, that’s what I first thought when I took the job. Yes that’s right, I’m working over here as a music teacher and freelance musician – as glamorous as it would be to just live on permanent holiday there’s bills that need paying! So as soon as I’d located Grand Cayman on Google maps (just south of Cuba – though remember to zoom in A LOT. It’s really tiny) I immediately began fervent research into what would soon be my new home. Though online resources like Cayman New Resident were incredibly helpful to an extent, no website could prepare me for the reality of island life.
I stepped off the plane after an 11 hour flight from Heathrow, greeted by a waft of tropical heat and immediate regret for wearing thick leggings and several layers (hey, I started the day at 4am in Manchester!). After clearing immigration and collecting all 4 of my suitcases – cheaper than shipping my stuff – I dragged everything through customs with no issues (other than getting one case stuck in the barrier) and was met by my friendly new boss. She drove me to the hotel I’d be staying in for the week and after checking me in and helping me to the room with my many, many items of luggage, bade me goodbye with the promise of picking me up in the morning to take me to the teaching studios and introduce me to the rest of the team.
Starving, and heavily jet lagged, I sat dazed on my bed for a good half hour before resolving to get some food from the hotel bar – grilled mahi mahi (dolphin fish, not real dolphin – I asked) and sweet potato fries, my favourite. Accompanied, of course, by a large rum cocktail. The whole experience felt surreal. Like being on holiday, but with the knowledge that this was no vacation and that the real adventure was only just beginning.
However at that moment all I wanted to do was sleep, so I polished off the food and rum quickly and sloped off back to my room. It was only about 8pm local time at this point but I couldn’t hold it off any longer, and no sooner had my head hit the pillow did I fall into dreamless sleep, with no time to even ponder what the next days and weeks would have in store.