June 13, 2011

I ♥ Stingrays, and other things I learned in Grand Cayman...

We celebrated the beginning of June by hanging out in Grand Cayman, baby!

Grand Cayman was a tender port, meaning that we had to be tendered, or take a small boat from the cruise ship to land. We didn't want to end up waiting forever for a tender, so we got up bright and early, had breakfast, and headed out to catch an early tender.

We arrived in Grand Cayman with plenty of time to spare before our tour, so we decided to wander around a bit. Lynzee said we had to make a stop at one of the many, many Big Black Dick statues on the island. It's a photographic rite of passage, apparently. Aren't we terrible?



Neither Tom nor Tyler would have their picture taken with Big Black Dick. Spoilsports.

We kind of wandered around a bit. Tyler was in heaven, as he quickly found a Dunkin' Donuts for coffee and a {second} breakfast. He would. The scenery was just beautiful, and so was the water!



You could even see the Freedom out there...



One of the things Cayman is known for is their sandbars and stingrays. Our first stop was a charter out to the famous Stingray City, a sandbar known for very friendly, tame stingrays.



I was a little torn about this adventure. I am a huge animal lover, and I always fear mistreatment of animals when people take on these types of "swim with" excursions. I am happy to report that I didn't see anything unsettling personally, and I guess I will choose to reside in ignorant bliss on this one...

Once we got to the sandbar, the water was absolutely crystal clear and a gorgeous teal. We immediately saw our friends, the stingrays.



At this point, I ditched my real camera and the next few pics are from a $7 disposable underwater camera, so forgive me. I'm so glad we brought it, though!

We were briefed on how to interact with the stingrays. I was relieved to hear that these stingrays had not been de-barbed. I mean, what right do we have? Also, it made the excursion just a tiny bit more exhilarating. I like to live on the edge a little, c'mon people...

There are out of order a bit, because I know I was the first to bravely pet and smooch a stingray, but here's one of Lynzee's turn. It's the best picture of the day!



The way the describe the stingrays' texture (dorsally) is like a wet mushroom and that's exactly what they felt like! The ventral surface was a bit more "slimy". They were so fun to spend time with. The guides encouraged them up on our backs, and they went back and forth, giving us a "massage". Super fun!



I kissed this stingray twice. It was so funny- the second time I went in for a smooch, he blew air out of his mouth/blowhole, hence "burping" in my face. He did it to be funny, of course. This was, by far, Sassy's favorite part of my trip to recount and tell all her friends!



I was honestly sad when it was time to leave. I felt a connection to those little not-so-little critters. I hope to visit them again some day!

When we re-entered our boat and headed back to shore, the view was breathtaking. The water was an unbelievable hue and it was so, so enjoyable to see.



We enjoyed the boat ride back, got to see some pretty neat lizards chilling in the bay, and headed over to the Cayman Turtle Farm, which was pretty neat!



It was equally as pretty on land!



Our tour guide was pretty wordy, but we sure did learn a lot about turtles! He yanked them out of their tanks and handed them off as fast as can be. We were like OK, guess we're holding the sea turtles. HA!



The big ones were pretty heavy, and they were a bit aggressive, flapping away with their fins. {Do you call them fins?} They called me the turtle whisperer because as soon as I would take one in my hand, it would calm down and be still, no matter what it was just acting like in someone else's arms. I think I need to reconsider my career!



This guy was pretty cute! The turtle, too. HA!



Turtle, turtles, everywhere!



OK, so the sea turtles were all cute and friendly and tame. Next, we toured areas {with OPEN tanks} of turtles that could likely kill you. Or at least bite you in two. Settling, huh? YIKES! We did get to see the sand areas that they lay eggs {pictured} as well as the hatchery. Did you know that a turtles sex is dependant on their incubation temperature? I found that pretty fascinating. In other words, the breeders have control over things. Huh...



Last but not least, we visited a place called Hell. Yep, that's right. H-E-L-L.

I wasn't sure quite what to make of the whole experience, but found the biblical references quite ironic. Apparently, the rather conservative Caymanians wanted to even things out, so to speak.



So, basically, Hell is a complete tourist attraction, as they urge you to send postcards from Hell, etc. It was kind of fun, though...



The actual limestone formations that caused Hell to acquire its name were pretty neat, still...



We even talked people into getting a couple of group shots for us.




The tenders back to ship gave us a great opportunity to get some pictures of the Freedom out on the water...



It really was a pretty scene.



We rounded out our evening with dinner, a comedy show, and another rousing evening of piano bar fun.

You didn't think I'd leave you hanging, did you??



Our {rather phallic} towel snake. Hee hee.

See what happens when you visit Big Black Dick and Hell all in one day?

2 sweet tweets:

Zoeby said...

The towel is awesome! I giggled quite a bit.

Erin Dashiell said...

Each post about your trip gets better and better! Can't wait to see the next!! Great pictures, it makes me wish I was there, hehe!