I’ve bragged about the good, I’ve ranted about the bad but now it’s time for an installment of those in-between, peculiar and entertaining quirks of island life. Things that you’d never expect or realise are even a thing until you live here and experience them for yourself. Here we go!
- Because the island is so small, on average most car journeys last roughly only about 10 minutes here (unless you’re going off somewhere as exotic as Rum Point or you’re stuck in rush hour traffic). As a consequence, if you’re one of those people who loves to blare their tunes loud and have a good Car-eoke session, you’ll probably only get to hear about 2 songs before you reach your destination. Great for the commuting, less good for singing!
- One of the islands biggest attractions is the wonderful world of Stingray City. It’s not a city at all but a point in the ocean just off North Side where stingrays gather, and tourists can visit them to have a real life sting-ray experience. This is probably one of the only places in the world where you’ll be recommended to land a big wet kiss on the front of the sting-ray to get “7 years of good luck!”
- For such a small island we do have our fair share of supermarkets. However, on doing the weekly shop you’ll probably regularly find yourself having to do the supermarket sweep (i.e. going to at least 3 different supermarkets) before you can find everything you need that week, since the supermarkets don’t all stock everything you might need. Which leads me to point 4…
- You very quickly learn that this island is particularly transient. But it’s not just the people who leave, never to be seen again. One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned here is to always stock up on an item you love in the supermarket when they have it in stock. One time I discovered a new brand of cassava chips that I absolutely loved in one store but went back the next week and it was gone – and then I never found it again! I’ve tried hard never to make the same mistake so now I’m always the crazy lady with 10 of everything in her trolley.
- Expats are only allowed to stay on the island for up to 9 years (unless they make the huge decision to apply for permanent residency). The process of people leaving after this period is known as the “roll-over”. As a non-islander, you will never know the struggle when your hairdresser/GP/waxer gets rolled over and you have to find a new one that’s anywhere near as good!
- Buses and taxis on the roads here make you take your life into your own hands and frequently almost run you off the road. Be safe!
- The novelty of finding iguana shit on your car instead of bird shit (although this wore off quickly…)
- Feeling like you may need a cardigan for that chilly 25 degree winter weather. No seriously! Something happens to the blood when you live in the tropics; I swear it gets thinner as I feel the cold now more than I ever did before!
- You stop going to the beach in summer because it’s too hot. Too hot for the beach! My family back home in Britain are probably scoffing at this but nobody actually wants to go and sit on the beach when it’s 40 degrees outside. Fact.
- Everybody knows each other here. It’s a small island and a tiny community, so you always have to make sure you do what’s known as a “Cayman 360” before you gossip about someone else. It’s always funny to see people doing it and when you catch yourself doing it!