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.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Timber me shivers...or Shiver me timbers...something like that.

Hey guys! We haven't chatted in forever. It's been busy on this little island: 1) Apparently I may or may/not have a shitty gallbladder, but an ex-CFL football player is keen to remove it, 2) We took a fabulous "road" trip (in a 12 seater plane) to Little Cayman for some world class diving/palm tree climbing competitions, and 3) The pirates invaded Grand Cayman and took our Govenor, just in time for our buddy, Stacey Weber to arrive and witness Evan Lindsay in a dance-off. Whoa. Busy times.
Dancing pirate

1) What's a gallbladder good for anyway?

First off, for all of you who've known me for the last few years, you may recall, "Angry knee Kirstie." The Coles' Notes version: It was discovered that my knee cartilage was gross and diseased, I had 4 knee surgeries, 1 epic cartilage transplant, and remained in a heavily medicated stoned state, on crutches or a cane for approximately 18 months. Good times. This experience definitely motivated me to "seize the day," and search for a life in a warmer climate. I immediately noticed that my joints ached much more in colder weather, and like an old lady with a hip replacement, I was able to predict major snowstorms by the creaking in my right knee. No lie. I am happy to report that this warm weather is most certainly benefitting my joint health. When I arrived on the island in August, I was still taking 3 prescribed medications for pain and swelling. I've now managed to dwindle that number down to 0. ZERO! Whoo hoo! Isn't that great? At one point, I was taking dozens of pills every day and now I am taking none. Success. I'm more active - I take 2-3 walks a day, I do modified work-outs at the gym, and I swim in the pool. My knees have never felt better! So, I'm not gonna lie, I'm more than a little frustrated with the fact that I'm now experiencing some weird abdominal pain since my trip to the ER in September. I met with a surgeon - the first Caymanian to be drafted in the CFL - for real. I'm not exactly sure how he went from the Winnipeg Bluebombers to general surgeon; however, he explained that the pain I am experiencing may or may not be due to the fact that I have some yucky things growing on my gallbladder. Football surgeon would like to remove it. I kinda like my gallbladder though. We've had 35 solid years together. I'm NOT down for surgery right now. Not at all. So I choose to currently ignore it and talk about....

2) Little Cayman

Wow! Have you ever dreamed of laying in a hammock and sipping pina coladas on a small white sand island surrounded by the most magnificent coral reefs in the world? This is your place! With 2 super fun couples I've met through work, Ev and I hopped on a tiny little plane (Ev's knees were touching the pilot's back - "Excuse me sir - what does that button do?" haha). We flew
boarding our plane
 5000 feet above the ocean and landed on Little Cayman in 30 minutes - the airport was a tiny little building labelled "Gate 1A" haha! We then headed off to our own beach house, equipped with a crystal blue pool, floaty toys, paddle boards, and a magnificent view of the Caribbean. It was paradise with a capital "P." We awoke first thing every morning to meet our dive boat out front. The diving was incredible! At one point, we made our way through a narrow swim through at a depth of 50-60 feet and arrived out the other end to witness the wall dropping 6000 feet into the abyss. The colours of the fish and the coral was unbelievable. That moment is engrained in my mind forever. Happy place! We then returned to our beach house, drank pina coladas until we each passed out in a hammock, and awoke in time for happy hour(s) from 4-10pm. During one epic happy hour, my friend Barrett created some very happy margaritas - margaritas infused with courage. I felt so brave that I recommended a palm tree climbing competition. This is how it went. Obviously, I did not win. Oh dear.
it definitely seemed higher in my mind

our little piece of heaven on Little Cayman

That's Ev wrestling a shark 

I have to admit, prior to this trip, I was feeling a little low. I know you want to biatch slap me right now, but it sucks to feel unwell when you don't have your trusted doctor, family and friends around. I was homesick. This escape made me feel incredibly grateful for this opportunity that Evan and I are experiencing together. Life is good.

We had a really great weekend and feel super lucky to have already met such great friends. I can't wait to bring our Canadian friends here when they come to visit!

Happiest of happy hours!

sunset on our dock
3) Pirate's Week with a Weber - AARRGGGG!

Pirate's week is an annual festival in the Cayman Islands. It begins with an invasion of the pirates, the capturing of the Govenor, and ends a week later with the sentencing of the pirates and an elaborate fireworks show. There's live music, daily events, local food stands, and tons of pirates partying in the streets. Good times. Our buddy, Stacey, couldn't have chosen a better time to visit the island. On the final night of Pirates Week, we boarded the Jolly Roger (a pirate ship, obviously) in full pirate garb, for 3 hours of legit pirate partying. It was unreal. We AAARRRRGGGG'ed all night, sipping  chugging our rum punch as we watched an amazing firework display over the harbour. After the pirate ship party, we joined in on a proper Caribbean street party. As an awesome Jamaican band pumped the tunes from a stage, hundreds of people danced in the streets. For those of you who know Evan Lindsay's dance history (he danced our wedding. It was more of a "hug...and turn"), you will be as shocked as I was to learn that Evan had voluntary entered himself in his own Caribbean dance-off. I looked towards the stage and witnessed Evan dancing/squatting low to the ground (the goalie move?), encouraging a young Caymanian man to match his low profile. When it was apparent that Evan had achieved a lower status to the ground than his dance competitor, Evan stood tall and proud, hands outstretched in the air in a victory pose. People high-fived him and hugged him in congratulations. Who is this guy, and what did he do with my introverted husband? Stacey and I were still laughing hysterically 2 days later as we recalled Evan's epic dance moves. It was great having Stacey with us for a week and we look forward to many more visitors - hopefully these pictures will entice friends to visit as the temperature plummets back home!

Thar she blows! The Jolly Roger

Yo Ho Yo Ho we drank a bottle of rum

Awesome visit with our great buddy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Confession Time

We all have little things we think or do that we inherently know are a little crazy, right? - little secrets that we keep to ourselves at the risk of appearing "off" to others. I think it's totally normal and acceptable. But sometimes it feels good to confess your little idiosyncrasies to others. Who knows? Perhaps someone out there shares a quirky quality? Or maybe they will laugh and point, and shout, "That's crazy!"It's a gamble.

On that note, I have a confession to make.

Well, actually, I have a few weird secrets and since I've decided to confess something at the risk of appearing crazy, I may as well lay them all out there. Why not.

Here it goes:

1) Sometimes when I am alone, I mix together butter, icing sugar, and cocoa in a small bowl. It's called "Kirstie icing." I eat it. Just like that. I can hear you "ewww"ing. Whatevs. I'm not ashamed. Well, obviously I am because I only do it when I'm alone. I wouldn't want to gross out Evan. It actually tastes delightful and makes me incredibly happy. In fact, it makes me a better person. I know it does.

2) Until I was about 12-13 years old, I actually thought that if a male and female were naked in close vicinity, sex would just happen. Like the male parts would just "find" the female parts. Like a magnet. Boom. You have no choice. You are naked and suddenly it happens. I don't know where I became misled. I'm pretty sure my parents and school provided me with the basics. For whatever reason, I was slightly confused.... and terrified of getting naked in change rooms that were within a few meters of a boys change room. Perhaps it is a brilliant teaching method. There was no way I was taking off my clothes anywhere near a boy that might even be thinking of getting naked! Ack! In case you're wondering, I'm got it all sorted out now, thank you very much.

Finally, the point of this blog post:

3) I have this irrational fear that a tidal wave/earthquake/asteroid/major destructive force is going to swallow this beautiful little island that I live on and we will all be sucked into the sea, never to be seen again.

I blame the following disaster flicks: "Armageddon," "The day after tomorrow," and "Deep Impact."

This thought first occurred to me as I saw the island for the first time from the airplane's window on descent. I knew the island was small, but seeing it from 10,000 feet solidified the fact that this island is small, people. Fricken small! It seemed so insignificant from the air. We could have easily flown past it and if I had been struggling to open my bag of crap airline peanuts, I would have completely missed it. An entire country!

I don't suffer from constant anxiety about this "issue." It just occurs to me from time to time. Especially at night when I'm looking out to sea and can't see anything. Nothing. Eerie. I've mentally tried to prepare for the tidal wave/earthquake/asteroid/destructive force by mapping out an escape route, but so far, I've got nothing. Where would I escape to? The highest point on this island is about 60 feet above sea level. That's not so high. And wouldn't all 60,000 people on this island be headed to that same location? Ugh. The bottom line is, the risk of tidal wave (so I've been told) is very low and an asteroid could hit anywhere, I suppose. In addition, there is no evidence that we're under attack by unidentified flying objects (they only attack major American cities like LA and NY anyways - so says Hollywood). My fear is totally irrational.

See - terrifying, right?

Now this is ominous. Disaster is imminent. 

So after almost 3 months on the island I thought that I had conquered this irrational fear and could live in peace in paradise. Not so much.

On Thursday, I was driving out to my schools on the north side and east end of the island. The East End is the furthest distance from where I live - approximately 22 miles away. This drive typically takes me about an hour in the morning with rush hour traffic - (there actually is "rush hour" traffic here. For real). I had driven about half the distance only to come to police road block. The police motioned that the road was closed and diverted me to a secondary road. I obediently followed the traffic and quickly came to a standstill. On an unknown "back" road, I sat, unmoving with hundreds of cars for 2 hours. Police cruisers whizzed past us in both directions, and people began turning off their vehicles and walking down the road. Initially I imagined a bad traffic accident, but I couldn't understand why we would all be required to sit and wait for 2 hours. Unmoving. Suddenly it occurred to me. Picturing the scene in all the disaster movies where Manhattaner's angrily get out of their cars in traffic only to be smashed by giant wave/asteroid/UFO, I thought, "Dammit! It's the tidal wave/asteroid/major destructive force. My little Japanese care, EDO Japan, does not pick up any radio signals (why would it, it thinks we are in Tokyo!), so I quickly went to my phone to text Evan: "Go online. Is there something bad happening on this island?" When he didn't reply and it was apparent that none of my texts were being transmitted, I was pretty positive that it was happening. I hate being right.

Finally after 2 hours of preparing for the tidal wave/asteroid/UFO/destructive force to take me down, traffic began to move. I glimpsed out to the ocean only to see calm, turquoise waters - no tidal wave. The sky was clear - no asteroids. No UFO's appeared to be entering our atmosphere. Reaching my destination, 2 hours late, I learned that it was, indeed, a very bad traffic accident that had caused the diversion.

Moral of the story: I need to avoid disaster movies, remain fully clothed in all public places, mix up a bowl of Kirstie icing... and calm the frick down.

This is where I ate lunch that day - Whoa! Scary stuff. 

Evan says, "chill out...ewwww, you eat butter and icing sugar?"

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Diving for cheeseburgers

Happy Thanksgiving Canada! Today I'm thankful that I spent a third of my weekend underwater. After battling (and winning!) this stupid bacterial infection, and then cancelling a dive last weekend due to Ev's newly acquired cold, we were so thankful to finally get beneath the surface this weekend. It's kinda silly - we spend all winter planning and waiting for a 1-2 week vacation, where we typically smash out 2 dives a day; yet, we've been here for 2 months and haven't been underwater once! Thank goodness we managed to get our ass in gear and oxygen tanks on our backs. Yesterday we attended my new friend, Katherine's snorkelling birthday party at a beach called Smith's Cove. This beach is awesome! It's hidden in a little cove, there's excellent snorkelling with tons of fish just a few feet off shore, and there's lots of shade for my buddy, Ev, whose freckles are beginning to join to the create the "ginger tan."We spent an hour or so snorkelling and then Katherine and I pulled up our big girl bikini bottoms and went cliff diving jumping off a 5 foot rock. It felt more impressive than it looks. Haha

Ready for it!

Go! yes, that's the paparazzi taking pics from the water

Today we did a shore dive, aptly name, "The Cheeseburger" because of its location directly in front of Burger King (how do we have BK, yet no Starbucks? How? What I would do for a pumpkin spiced latte...) A buddy notified us that the "Silversides" were in town. After realizing that he wasn't talking about a band, we researched ( that the silversides are little silvery fish that arrive in the thousands - typically between June and August here in Grand Cayman. For whatever reason, they just happen to be in front of Burger! Not just "The home of the whopper," people!

The dive was pretty incredible. It was shallow - we never descended further than 40 feet. We entered a long swim through (like a cave, with an opening) to discover a curtain of thousands of sparkly silver fish. In order to see where you were going, you actually had to reach out and spread the glittery fish with your hands - imagine thousands of tiny silver fish all moving as one, swirling around you as you swim through a narrow cave. Super cool! On the other end of the swim through were huge Jacks, just waiting to snack - on the silversides, not us!) Overall, great experience. I'm glad we were able to witness that, especially given that it only happens a few times a year.

This isn't actually from our camera - it ran out of batteries 10 minutes into the dive but this dude got a great pic

found this perfect conch during my Thursday lunch on the beach
In addition to some great water time, we had a pretty good week on the island. I'm not going to complain about the heat...ever...I promise (watch 325 people defriend me instantly on Facebook); however, I must say, I do miss some variation in the weather. Weather is such a huge part of our lives back home. We have hundreds of adjectives to describe the weather: "blustery," "frosty," "heatwave," "coldspell," "frigid," I can go on and on. The weather is always changing. It can be hot and 30 degrees Celsius one day in May turning to blizzard-like conditions the very next day. It gives us something to talk about - something to praise and something to bitch about. Here, we have hot, hotter, hot rainy, hot breezy, and finally... a brand new one this week...wait for it...."windy." I woke up at 6:30am on Wednesday for my daily morning walk with Dundee and I immediately noticed that something was different. There was a strong breeze and it felt almost...well, almost "crisp-ish." It was still like 28 degrees celsius, but the wind was actually refreshing. I came bouncing inside, "Ev! It's different outside today. It's like windy, but kinda cool windy or something!" Wowsers. If this doesn't make, then I don't know what will. haha.

Even my buddies - the other new recruits noticed! At The Wharf bar and grill during Friday happy hour, my American friend commented, "Did anyone notice that there was kinda, I dunno, almost like a cool wind the other morning?" "YESS! we all chimed in. Exciting times. Exciting times. I have been told that the humidity will fall around November and the air will feel cooler during the "winter" months. My scarves (I only packed the "tropical" scarves!) are waiting patiently, hanging with anticipation in my closet. Stay tuned.  I look at pictures on Facebook from back home - colorful leaves, pumpkin patches, pumpkin-spiced lattes (sorry, I'm obsessed), family Thanksgiving dinners, and I definitely feel a bit homesick. It's only been a few months, but I find myself having to really remember what Fall looks, smells, and feels like. I'm so thankful for skype/facetime, which at least allows me to see everyone I love and miss. There's always a strange balance between missing the familiar and yearning for something completely new - so we're embracing the balance and eating our Thanksgiving meal out by the pool this year.
Happy Thanksgiving! Cheers!
mmm...stuffing from a box

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Reunited and it feels so....TERRIBLE! I need a Doctor!

Last we chatted, I was excitedly preparing for Ev's return to the island. He was flying in at noon on Sunday, so on Saturday, I prepared by buying his favourite groceries (MEAT!), purchasing some Czech beer, and tidying up the house for his arrival. Every now and then I would turn to my captive audience (dog and cat) and exclaim enthusiastically, "Evan's coming home tomorrow!" Their ears would go back, the dog wagged his tail and the cat looked at me expectantly. Exciting times.

Things went downhill quickly.

By midnight Saturday, I was laying on the bathroom floor, dripping in sweat, experiencing what I could only guess was a case of food poisoning.

I took some meds and set my alarm for 11:30am so that I could pick up my man from the airport.

A romantic reunion of lovers (ew, I hate that word) beaus embracing lovingly after 3 weeks of separation -  it was NOT. Hunched over the steering wheel, perspiring profusely, I slowly drove up to the terminal, rolled down the window, and muttered, "Let's. Go."

Poor Ev.

By Monday evening, things had gotten worse and I was experiencing severe stomach pain - the kind that doubles you over and takes your breath away (ginger ale ain't fixin' this!) Ev and I decided to visit the hospital - I mean, may as well try out that free healthcare.

Because I am a government employee, I am entitled to free healthcare. Unlike Canada where our tax dollars pay for our healthcare, the Cayman Government foots the total bill - which is great; however, I was a little concerned what my free healthcare would get me. First, I knew that the insurance only covered me at one of the three hospitals on the island. I envisioned the hospitals in the US (as seen on TV) for peeps with very limited or no insurance - crowded chaos.

I was pleasantly surprised. Within an hour and a half of entering the hospital, I was in an emerg bed, was examined by a doctor, had IV fluids, and had just returned from an ultrasound. Boom. Not bad.

Once it was determined that I had a bacterial infection (I haven't a clue how I got that but most google searches reveal "ingesting feces" - awesome) and IV antibiotics were administered, I chilled out and we took this picture: romance at its finest.

Hospital selfie. Some people tour the beaches, I prefer the ER

I felt pretty rough for a few more days, but I dragged myself to work on Wednesday, concerned that my schools would be searching for me, needing me, wondering where the h their new speech therapist went (for the record, no one noticed that I was missing).

I went back to work too soon. I was tired. I was weak. I was incredibly cranky and totally "over" this whole experience - I just wanted to be back in my house in PA surrounded by familiar things. I knew I had had it as I watched the vicious dogs (they're baaack!) tear apart a snake from my treatment window (no lie!) and asked the 8th child of the day, "What does a policeman do?" (we're working on occupations) Aside: Best response ever from a second grader: "You pay them to go away, ma'am." I'm assuming that kid has seen way too many movies...yikes.

The day just escalated from challenging to "What am I doing here? "quickly. I was told by the ER physician to make a follow-up appointment with a Doctor as soon as possible, so I was frustrated when my island cell phone completely failed to power up. I immediately took it to the nearest cell dealer and the woman oohed and ahhed and stated matter-of-factly, "You need Kirk Sullivan."

Um. Ok. I don't know Kirk Sullivan. Tell me more.

"You need to call Kirk Sullivan about your phone," she continued.

"Great. But I don't have a phone to call him from," I responded.

She directed me to Kirk's office in downtown Georgetown and told me to hurry, as the office closed in 1 hour. I high-tailed it in EDO Japan (my little foreign car), feeling rotten. I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the rearview mirror. Skin sallow, eyes dark and sunken in, I was not the poster child for Cayman Island living. And I just needed a working phone to make a Doctor's appointment, dammit.

Georgetown is the area where the cruise ships dock. Pretty cool when you first arrive on the island, but a total pain in the ass when you're attempting to get anything done. Cruise Ships equate to hundreds of lost tourists, aimlessly wandering the streets, looking for rum cake and cheap booze (tip: there is NO cheap booze on this island. Trust me, I have looked) In addition to the tourists are the tour buses lined up and down the streets, leading to excess traffic and complete chaos. There just happened to be 3 cruise ships docked on this particular today. Ugh. Turning onto the main street downtown, I became angered by the lack of rules these drivers were adhering to. You can't just wave someone through a 4-way stop! There are rules! Annoyed and overreactive, I finally found a parking spot and raced into the office building. It was 4:45pm and my greasy hair was pasted to my sweaty face as drops of sweat dripped down the back of my legs.

"I need Kirk Sullivan!" I stated.

"Yes, this way ma'am."

I was escorted to a small room with a ticket window - no one was behind the window.

"Kirk!!!!" yelled my escort, "He'll be right with you, ma'am."

I turned around and was shocked to see 9 other customers, waiting in chairs.

"Are you all waiting for Kirk Sullivan?" I inquired.

They nodded.

"Is there a line?" I questioned

They shook their heads.

How the h do we know who is next without a line?

As more and more customers entered the room, with the escort yelling, "Kirk!!!" I seriously began to wonder if this was a joke. Is there even a "Kirk" ? Does this phone whisperer even exist?

After 45 minutes of waiting - yes, the office was actually closed at this point, a man, who could only be Kirk Sullivan appeared behind the window.

"So whose phone is broken?" asked Kirk from behind the window. Five out of nine people began talking simultaneously, waving their phones in the air, explaining their phone issues.

This is how he fixed the phones. There was no line. No one person was served before the other. We were all kinda "served" at the same time. Wow.

Frustrated but satisfied that my phone was in working order, I left after a 2 hour wait at the office.

At this point I had worked an 8 hour day, battled cruise ship traffic, spent 2 hours waiting in line a non-line, and was feeling sick, exhausted, and fed up. I decided the only thing that could cheer me up was a Smoothie from Smoothie King. I entered the Smoothie shop to a room full of customers wandering aimlessly around in circles...or squares...I'm not sure.

"Is there a line?" I inquired.

15 people, perplexed, looked back at me and shrugged.

Good Gawwwwd. I'm done. Done, I say!

The bacteria, the snake-eating dogs, the lack of traffic rules, and the absence of lines had completely sent me over the edge. I felt like the Cayman Islands had officially flipped me the middle finger.

Cranky, miserable, and defeated, I arrived home. Evan led me to the pool area and encouraged me to chill out. And then this happened:

Ok, CI's - I forgive you

And I took a deep breath and began to settle down. Tough week. Remind me not to ingest feces. Maybe lines and traffic rules are overrated? Next week will be better.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Iguanas and roosters and "mom" voice, Oh My!

As I gazed out the window of my treatment room, I took a deep breath and inhaled the scenery: a palm tree swaying in the tropical breeze. A butterfly fluttering through the bright pink flowers. A tiny hummingbird hovering next to my window. A dog sunning himself, stretching on a tree, pulling a 2 foot iguana out of a branch...and...viciously eating the iguana. What? Good Gawd. NO! NO! NO! I had to absolutely look away when I saw a mama hen waddle into the scene of the iguana-cide with her babes. Turn Around! Turn around, mother hen!
Unsuspecting Iguana

The scene from my treatment room window: Sh*t's about to get real

It's been 7 weeks of island life and, occasionally, I actually forget that I'm somewhere "foreign." That is, until I witness lizards falling from trees, dogs hunting iguanas, and trapped roosters (...if I had a dollar for every time a student says, "Ma'am, Ma'am! there's a rooster stuck in the garbage again!")

The roosters looking to dumpster dive in the school

Yep, life on the island isn't all beaches and cocktails...there's some hard realities. You know, the circle of life and so on. Otherwise, I must admit that I'm really feeling like this a fabulous place to call home. Cayman is pretty magical and I'm settling in - and trust me, there have been many moments where I've questioned if I will ever begin to feel like I'm "fitting in." My surroundings are becoming familiar, I have a really great core group of people whom I can now call my friends, the homesickness is beginning to subside, and I feel myself acclimating to "island life." I even found myself muttering in traffic when an inpatient driver honked at my hesitation, "Seriously dude! this island is 22 miles long. I know for a fact that you don't actually have far to travel, so settle down!" (For the record, on Thursdays, I travel the total 22 miles across! Whoa - pack a lunch!)

My new job has probably been one of the most challenging aspects of this move. I went from working with adults with strokes and neurological diseases in a hospital setting to working with 4-8 year old children with speech and language delays. Although I have worked in the school setting before, I was very comfortable and confident working in the hospital with adult patients. Working with children, although less emotionally gruelling than working with hospitalized adults, requires a whole new set of skills and energy. Initially, I would come home exhausted from attempting to "sell" the /sssssss/ sound to a child with zero interest. Now; however, I've gotten to know my schools, the teachers, and the kiddos on my caseload. I see some really awesome children - funny, smart, interesting kids. And how can you not feel the love upon entering the classroom to, "Good morning Ms Kirstie!" followed by the desperate whispers, "Pick me! Pick me! Please pick me Ms Kirstie!" Haha. So, although the job is posing a set of new challenges, overall, I'm enjoying it.  (I did use my "mom" voice this week. I didn't know I even had a "mom" voice:  "ENOUGH! This game is OVER. There will be NO stickers today!" Yikes!)

Evan has been away for 3 weeks now. I miss him so much and I cannot wait to pick him up at the airport tomorrow afternoon. 3 weeks is much too long - reminiscent of our long distance hockey life, which I vowed to never repeat again in our relationship. We've suffered enough! (Try msn messenger chatting on dial-up internet or communicating via pay phones because it's the only way to score a decent international phone rate!) Since my mama left a week ago, I've definitely had some lonely moments, but I also feel independent and capable, which is a good way to feel, especially after 2 years of depending heavily on others with my knee struggles (remember:"who wants to bathe me today?" Yikes!).  This feels good. This is the first time in 7 weeks that I genuinely feel confident about our decision to try out this new and exciting life (prior to now, I was totally faking it. Just sayin')

my morning on the patio - it still blows my mind that I live in a place where cruise ships frequent!

On Thursdays, I drive to the remote east end of the island - it's incredible

Friday happy hour is my favourite hour(s) of the week! Cheers!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wine dispensers, Sunday brunch, and ocean dips: Mom is on the island!

"Um...I have a problem...well, at least I think it's a problem..." I stammered.

The principal looked up from his computer and nodded, "What's the problem, Ms Kirstie?"

"There's a lizard, or like an iguana, um, running, well, scurrying about in my treatment room."

Unfazed, the principal stood up and followed me to my treatment room.

"You didn't shut the door the entire way. They will run in and out of your room. I'm sure it's gone now. Have a great day!"

Um. Ok.

10 minutes prior to that conversation, I was standing on a chair with a 5 year old, stifling my screams, whist attempting to not appear frightened as a 2 foot long iguana freaked out, obviously trapped in my treatment room, knocking over materials with his giant tail.

Another life lesson, I suppose.

These days are full of life lessons.

The day after Ev left the island to get some work done back home (wait..where is "home" anymore?), my mom flew in. It's been so great having her here with me. The last time we spent so much time together was after my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th knee surgery. And let me tell you: drinking cocktails on the beach definitely trumps the memory of her holding my hair back while I'm puking. We've had such a great week!
Selfies in front of the condo

I'm still working full days, so mom is spending her days lounging by the pool and also doing some work from her computer - she's a freelance Writer, you know! - cool, hey? But I'm usually home around 4pm and then we've been taking trips to the beach or just spend the  afternoon lounging by the pool together. It's so nice to just have her around all the time. I've definitely had moments where I feel incredibly homesick. In addition, work has been challenging. Pretty good, but challenging. Other than the iguana on the loose, I've also experienced consecutive hours speech therapizing (I made that verb up) children whose speech I cannot understand (I'm a speech pathologist, I should get this!) But the dialect in addition to a speech disorder is throwing my speechie senses right off!  I've definitely felt the need to unwind when the work day is over. I did manage to introduce mom to Island happy hour -  an after-work Friday tradition that my new friends and I have started. This week we toured a very magical place - a place where wine dispenses from machines - like the self-serve slurpee machine at macs - but with wine. Beautiful free-flowing wine. Pure brilliance, if you ask me.
heaven on Earth? Yes!

The GPS in my car: Yes, this is a map of Tokyo. Super helpful.
This past weekend we took a road trip ALL the way to the east end of the island! That's 22 miles away! That constitutes as an intense road trip on this island.We toured the blow holes, where the waves crash into rocks, driving a spray of water feet into the air. We stopped at Rum Point and checked out the "Disneyland" of Cayman (hello, tourist zone!!), and we stopped at one of my favorite spots "Kaibo" in Cayman Kai for a world famous (well, island famous) Mudslide (so rich and creamy!)  Overall, we had an awesome day together touring the island. On Sunday; however, we were introduced to one of the most amazing island experiences one could even begin to imagine - Sunday Brunch at Luca. This is an event. I've done Sunday brunch at Grainfields. I've even enjoyed a brunch or two at the Saskatoon Inn - but this, people, was a brunch to write home about! The food, for one, was amazing - tables of seafood, sushi, salads, roast, eggs benny, decadent desserts etc, etc, etc etc...but, the most fabulous part of Sunday brunch was bottomless Prosecco. Prosecco, if you've never had, is an Italian sparkling white wine. Mixed with a little OJ, it's the breakfast bevvy of champions - and by "bottomless," I mean that your glass is NEVER less than 3/4 full - at all times. From 11:30 until 3:30, we drank, we ate, we drank, we drank, we ate. By 3:30, the brunching ladies were slightly disheveled. Our skirts were crooked and our earrings were falling off, but we were happy. Happy! Home by 4 and passed out by the pool by 5, I couldn't imagine a better way to spend my Sunday. I'm so happy that my mama was able to take in my first Sunday Brunch with me on the island. Epic.
Caution: Ladies Lunching

Ladies Lunching with bottomless Prosecco

I can't believe my mom leaves in 4 days. I'm going to be very sad to see her go. On that note, I'm posting this quickly so I can enjoy dinner on the patio with her this evening.


Spotts Beach to search for turtles

Mom's swimming! She likes it! She likes it!

Happy hour!

Welcome to the blow holes!

Rum Point

Mudslides at Kaibo

Walking off the Prosecco (crookedly) on Seven Mile Beach