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The story of the seven-mile-beach sand-iguana and his rum.

CAYMAN ISLANDS | Friday, 25 March 2011 | Views [635]

Hello dear friends,

It has been a while since I last wrote; life has been a bit hectic up until about just under a week ago. We finished the 3 week baseline population survey of the iguanas in the reserve and are now free of field work! So to celebrate crystal and I have been enjoying the freedom and spending a lot of time in town exploring places, meeting new people hanging out on the beach, laughing at tourists and you know, the usual stuff you do when you live on an island… drink rum? Yep.
So I have heard from numerous people, (family mostly) about the fact that more often than not, there seems to be an alcoholic beverage in my hand rather than a blue iguana… now don’t get me wrong, I love the things to pieces, but my field work section of this trip is over. It was very successful, we fulfilled the requirements of the job to date, and worked our asses off, so we deserve to have time to enjoy our free time and appreciate this beautiful island and what it has to offer. I mean we are in the Cayman Islands for goodness sakes, and that deserves some appreciating! We have had to argue this point to certain people who have been less than respectful of this situation over the last few days and now thankfully we can reap the benefits.
Ok rant over. So last Friday, we had a day off before our last trip out to the field ever, so of course to celebrate we went to Rackams for a drink or 3… as it turned out it ended up being a few more than that but that’s beside the point.  Before we went there however we decided to go George Town and buy some souvenirs as gifts for friends and family and finished up the day having a Hurricane (lethal drink as it turns out, with 3 shots of dark rum in it) at the Hard Rock Café overlooking the harbor and sunset. Never been into this place before so that was pretty cool, good music, and we got to keep our glass afterwards as a memento which is pretty sweet.
Then we went to Rackams and made friends with Cam and Stephan, the bartenders there. This is of course always a mixed blessing as you end up with happy-hour discounted prices all night (awesome!) however they do tend to refill your drinks rather often. So as a result we were both wasted but ended up paying almost nothing for a great night. Best part about it, is that every time we go there now we get cheap drinks and have a mate to talk to behind the bar. Unfortunately we had to hike out to the field site the next morning, which was not fun, but had recovered by the time we had to do the work.
That trip out was a pretty shit one to be honest, the weather was crappy, the wind was really strong all day every day, it was cold at night and in the mornings and evenings and boiling hot at midday, so either way we hardly saw any iguanas and got about 3 hours sleep both nights between us all. But the time came for us to do the tiresome hour and a half long trek out to the road where Doug was to meet us and take us home. Now an hour’s trek doesn’t sound hard to anyone, however as you can see from the photo I have uploaded, its not as easy as you might think. The terrain is sharp and full of crevaces and holes that if you aren’t looking where you are putting your feet for even a second, you could fall into a rock hole slice open your legs with sharp rock and bleed to death, or possibly break either your ankles or your neck. So its not fun, and requires not only physical energy to balance and walk over the rock but also mental ability as you have to think about where you put every single step and if you start to fall or reach out towards a cactus or agave plant, you have to suddenly change your train of thought so as not to hurt yourself. But saying this, we have done the hike out there so many times now it’s like second nature to us, we know every rock hole and every wobbly rock and every poisonous and prickly plant and where to avoid them. So far I have only sprained my ankle lightly twice by slipping off a rock into a hole and got a thousand cactus and agave spines in various places, but (touch wood) haven’t done anything too bad yet. I just hope to god I haven’t just jinxed that luck :P.
So anyway we got out for the last time to be met by Doug who had brought 3 cold beers wrapped in an ice pack in the back seat. Legend. Not before a cop car had driven past us to find 3 scruffy and sweaty looking people with back packs sitting on the side of the road reading books and eating snacks. Of course I stupidly waved to him (I was in high spirits with finishing off the survey and so was feeling happy and friendly) so of course he thought I was hailing him and he quickly did a U turn and came back to find out what we were doing. After 5 minutes of carefully explaining what we were doing looking like tramps on the side of the road, and reluctantly giving him our names and origins, the nosey bastard finally drove off. The fuzz will do absolutely anything in this country to find trouble, they seem to have nothing better to do all day than drive around the island, and if they feel like the traffic is too slow to let them get back to their lunch break they will throw on the siren and speed back to HQ.
Anyway we got home eventually and thus began the moment of relaxation and realization that our job was done, and done well! So of course that night we went to Rackams again …
This time we planned to go with the 3 of us; Crystal, John and I, and also with Chris, one of the other volunteers who was flying out the next day back to London and so wanted a last night out on the town. However John (the light weight that he is) had had a couple of rums at home already, so as soon as he had 2 more he proceeded to throw his guts up, on the way into town from Fred’s place as we had to drop off our data sheets before we went home, and then said that he couldn’t handle it and wanted to go home. Chris then bailed too so we were left with just the 2 of us. We called Scott and he was keen for Rackams so we picked him up on the way through. We ended up having a fairly quiet one actually, it was a Monday night, really quiet, about 10 people in total at the bar, and Cam was bored as he had no one to serve drinks too except us so we kept him company for a few hours until we were the last ones there and decided to go home. Highlight of the night was our discounted bill which had Cam’s number scrawled across it; turns out he had the day off the next day and said he was going to hang out on the beach all day and that he owned a condo on 7-mile beach and as we now had no place to be, would us girls want to hang out with him?! 7-mile beach is mostly privately owned so unless you want to sit with the throngs of tourists from the cruise ships, having a private sun lounger on a private beach with blue blue water stretching right up to the doorstep of your condo is quite a luxury so of course we said yes! SCORE!
The next day town was buzzing, it was an absolutely beautiful day, blue blue skies, flat calm water and the colours of the Caribbean sea were just to die for! Perfect beach day! Of course everyone else thought so too, and there were 6 cruise ships in that day, the most I have ever seen docked in George Town, each carrying about 1500-2000 people, so in total there were an extra 12 thousand people on island that day! It was insane, but of course we had only about 4 people on our nice stretch of private beach right next door to Royal Palms; the main tourist venue for cruise ship tourists, with a bar and banana umbrellas on the beach. They also have a bunch of water sports going from there like jetskis and banana boats, parasailing which was fun to watch. So we had an awesomely lazy day hanging out with Cam and his roommate Colin. Cam had some stuff to do in the afternoon, so Crystal and I decided to build a sand Iguana and spent a good hour perfecting the spines and scales, and in the end it actually looked pretty fantastic! Cam arrived near the end and thought at first we were a pair of kids down on the beach building a sand castle…. So worth it! About half an hour later we had a sundowner drink from Royal Palms and sat on the beach watching the sun go down right infront of us, with the silhouette of the Jolly Roger ship sailing past. It was absolutely breathtaking. Some people walked past and pointed at our Iguana and said “Aww look some kids made a crocodile on the beach, how cute! Crystal and I fumed silently at the comment but we all ended up bursting out laughing at the hilarity of it, and complete stupidity of them. We then went to Trivia at a pub down the road (Crystal and I made us win the science and nature category!) where we of course drank many things including unfortunately many rounds of jagerbombs, but as we were with a big crowd of new people they all payed for the bill and didn’t want us to pay any which was rather awesome! At about 10pm I started on the water though and stayed that way for the rest of the night, the rum wasn’t going down so well at that point :P. After we were the last 3 people in the bar we headed back to the beach and played a game of (slightly drunk) Boccé Ball and made sand castles in the shape of Star Wars characters that ended up looking strangely falic (Crystal and Colin the artistes denied this fact of course!). And our awesome iguana was still there, looking proud and strong having not washed away in the high tide! 
We then crashed in their spare room and spent the next day recovering and lying on the beach again, drinking coffee and eating oranges. It was a hot hot day, and you couldn’t be out of the water for 5 minutes without sizzling in the sun, so there was a lot of swimming too. Most amusing part of the morning was sitting watching the tourists from the cruise ships and laughing at their hilarious comments and lame attempts to pick up girls on the beach.
So after an extremely lazy 2 days we got the bus home and have since been cleaning up the house and being all domestic as now we actually have the time! Tonight we are meeting up with a returning volunteer from the States: Ae, and a retired reptile vet who are working on the program for the next 2 weeks (at Rackams) and Cam will be working too so hooray for cheap drinks and the famous Curry Fries, best curry fries on the island!! Very excited about that so now will leave you all, if you have got thus far into this blog and have survived reading all my bullshit rambling then I am impressed!!
You know what though? What is a blog if it isn’t a completely honest day to day account of my happenings? So that is what you have been getting I hope I haven’t bored you all :P
Lots of love to you all, until next time.

Ps: Very excited! In 6 days will be spending a week with a great friend Reilly who is visiting GC on his way from Brisbane to the States, and will be exploring the island with new eyes! :)

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