Yesterday was our thrill ride tour, today was our nature tour. The weather was beginning to look a little wet, due to what had just become Tropical Storm Paloma. There was rain on the ship as we docked, and the ground was wet on the pier when we hit land, but the rain that threatened us all day didn’t arrive. We wandered around the three shops that were open in the port of George Town, then hopped on a bus to hit our several destinations for the day.
We stopped in a tiny little tourist trap area named Hell. It is a bunch of very dangerous-looking rocks that have been colored black over time, and the locals have put up a post office that sells Hell postcards and will even mail them so they’ll have a postmark from Hell.
After Hell, we hit the road to one of the many many Tortuga rum and rum cake outlets. Since they had the same prices and selection as the one at the pier, we decided to not haul a bunch of rum cake around Grand Cayman. The Turtle Farm is a fabulous place, with a truly astounding number of sea turtles in their tanks. This place is not just a tourist attraction, but keeps a breeding program going as well. Of the hundreds of turtles that hatch each year, over 10% are released into the ocean, while 70% are kept as part of the exhibit and breeding program. The other 20%? Um, they generally become soup. Sorry animal lovers. Sadly, we didn’t get to spend nearly enough time at the turtle farm, because we had a schedule to keep. We did meet our friend Flappy there – he really wanted to get back in the water.
Then, it was time for the main event, the grand finale, the claim to fame of the island of Grand Cayman – the Stingray Sandbar. This is a truly amazing location, out in the bay off the northern coast of the island. For many years, fishermen would stop here, in this relatively calm and very shallow area far from shore, to clean their catch. After so many years of free fish, the stingrays on the sandbar are nearly tame. We swam with them, pet them, fed them, even got to hold them. Absolutely one of the best experiences ever. We couldn’t understand why there were several able-bodied people who paid for this tour and refused to get in the water. Mystifying.
We ran around George Town for about an hour, picking up souvenirs and the freebies that the jewelry shops seem intent on handing out, then back to the ship. The ship left an hour earlier than originally planned, due to what had now become Hurricane Paloma.
Back aboard, we had a couple hours of down time, and then the second Formal Night. Some folks seem to have a very relaxed definition of formal; the table next to us had a gentleman in a rather formless flannel shirt. He sure looked comfortable, anyway. Baked Alaska for dessert, first time Kat had tried the dish.