Monday was my 26th birthday, so Brent and I decided to celebrate island style. At breakfast I looked through all our tourist books and made a list of possibilities. After a little research, we decided to head to West Bay and check out the Turtle Farm and Tortuga Rum Cake Factory. (Parasailing was also on the list, but for some reason Brent does not think this sounds fun. So if any guests want to do it with me when they get here, let me know!)
I was pretty excited about the turtle farm, but it turned out to be even more fun that I expected! We got there just in time for the 11:00 turtle feeding. Basically there is this big swimming area with hundreds of HUGE green sea turtles. These are all the mature breeding turtles (12 years and up). They typically weigh 350-500 pounds - the biggest is a a female named "Sparky" weighing 575 pounds!
Cute little turtle faces
They throw big bags of kibble in there and it's gone in minutes. They all pile on each other to get to it. It was incredible! When they eat, they take a huge bite and then push the water out their nose. This is what allows them to eat in water.
Brent watching the feeding
In another area there are all these small pools which have turtles separated by their age. You can just reach your hand in and scoop them right up! It's not a guided tour, but one of the caregivers named Benny pretty much stayed by our side the whole time. He answered all our questions and knew so much about the turtles - I was really glad he liked us!
Us with 11 month old turtles
I love holding turtles!
It rained for a couple minutes so we ducked inside the education center/hatchery. Benny brought out these tiny turtles that were just a couple weeks old! We learned that the best way to calm down any age turtle is to stroke the underside of its neck. The little one Brent held was just like a puppy dog - stretching out his neck and closing his eyes when Brent stroked him. They were best buds!
There's also a predator tank at the farm with sharks and barracuda. Reef sharks on top and and nurse sharks on bottom:
Then there's a colorful bird aviary. I forget what this one was called, but it looked like a mini flamingo!
Brent bonding with the wildlife (a second later he was bit by this green parrot)
We had lunch at the farm's open air restaurant, Schooner's Bar and Grill.
I had a yummy mango chicken sandwich and Brent ordered turtle soup! Isn't that appalling?! Benny said that people need to hunt and eat turtles to keep the population down, but even still...
After lunch I wanted to stop by the younger turtle tank one more time. I just love these little guys!
The Tortuga Rum Cake Factory is right across the street so we went there next, but it was closed! I was sad because not only do you get to watch the cake being made, but you also get to taste samples. I peeked in the window and saw some of the flavors: original golden, chocolate, banana, coconut, key lime, blue mountain coffee, cinnamon raisin, and orange. There might have been others too, but I forget. Tortuga is derived from the original name given the Cayman Islands, Las Tortugas (the Turtles). Tortuga rum is a combination of Jamaican and Barbados rum specially blended for the Cayman Islands. Pretty authentic, right? Having some of this cake is definitely on my island bucket list.
For dinner we walked to Prime, the Brazilian Churrascaria Steakhouse by our hotel. I picked this restaurant because I knew Brent would love it, and I felt really bad that his actual birthday was lost in the packing/moving chaos. After that we walked to Cost U Less and picked out two pints of Häagen-Dazs (his and hers) and headed back to the hotel. I got to chat with my mom and dad for the first time on Skype (thank you Joy for helping us out!). As soon as I answered, Mom, Dad, and Joy all started singing happy birthday to me. It was the perfect ending to my day.
Thanks to everyone who wrote b-day emails or facebook messages (and Amy for the e-card!). I'm using Brent's new blackberry on the island (he's using the old one, isn't' that nice?), and we have it set up so it dings whenever I get a facebook message. It was buzzing off the hook all day, which was so, so fun. I'm glad I was remembered even an ocean away! I miss you all, but thank you for taking the time to make me feel close to home on my birthday. Love love love!