Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas Tree Lighting

Last Tuesday we went to Camana Bay's Christmas Tree Lighting with Nate and Jenn. We got there a little late and were lucky they saved us seats. We had no idea how crowded it would be! Here's what I'm learning about Grand Cayman - if something out of the norm is going on, people will come out in hordes to see it.

The evening started with carols sung by a couple different choirs.

The tree had huge silver ornaments - I couldn't resist turning around to capture the crowd's reflection:

Brent and I in front of the tree (further evidence that I should not attempt to wear my hair down on this island)

Here it is all lit up (picture actually taken from a distance as we were leaving)

It was funny because the guy on the microphone did a long, drawn-out countdown for Santa to turn on the switch, but then at "zero" nothing happened. Something about waiting for the electrical current to reach the tree? It probably took a minute after the countdown for the lights to come on. A little anti-climatic if you ask me...

Fake snow (really only visible in the street lights)

We met up with Jeremy, Sheena, and Wes after the show. Haagen-Dazs was having a promotion - buy two scoops get one free! I got Banoffee, Cappuccino Caramel Truffle, and Baileys Irish Cream. More ice cream than anyone would ever need to eat, but I loved it all. Deal goes through November, Cayman residents!

Thanksgiving 1.0

Wes, a new friend from church, invited us to his apartment for Thanksgiving dinner. Even though Jenn has a traditional feast planned for Sunday, I was very grateful to have something festive to do on the actual holiday. It just didn't feel right working all day, not even getting to watch the parade (our cable wasn't working in the new apartment, otherwise I would have had it on). We had such a great time at Wes' place. We didn't know a lot of people, but many were from church and everyone was so friendly. And the food...oh my goodness the food was amazing! It was like everyone made their best dish and we had an all-star dinner.

Chatting before dinner

One of two turkeys!

Jeremy carving one of the turkeys

This sweet potato casserole with some kind of stresual on it (far left) was the best thing ever.

Here's an interesting photography lesson. The first shot was taken with my 50mm lens, and the second is taken from the same spot with Jeremy's 18-200mm lens. My next lens really needs to be a wide angle one!

Watching football - it doesn't get more traditional than this

We are so thankful to those in Grand Cayman who have taken us in and made us feel at home. Nothing can replace family, but God has blessed us beyond belief with friends here. Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turtle Release and Pumpkin Lasagna

Ha, I am loving my random blog titles. Who would have thought turtles and lasagna could go in the same post? This girl, that's who.

First of all Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Americans! It's weird thinking about families gathering all day today, people putting their turkeys in the oven and watching the parade as I type this. Just another work day in Grand Cayman. But before you get all sad for me, we do have a legitimate Thanksgiving dinner to go to tonight after work. One of our new friends from church is hosting a potluck style Thanksgiving. We joined in a little late and all the traditional Thanksgiving sides were all ready taken, so what are we bringing? Carrot cake. Carrots are kind of fall-ish, right? Hmm...

We also have another large Thanksgiving party to go to on Sunday. Jenn and Nate are hosting one at their place with people from work. It's mostly non-Americans, which is fun because people are pretty excited to experience their first Thanksgiving. Jenn assigned items and sent recipes to make sure it's the real deal. I'm making Pioneer Woman stuffing - yum yum!

I do have a lot to be thankful for this year. My wonderful family and in-laws. Great friends here and in the States. Good health and jobs. Beautiful weather. Our first guests coming TOMORROW. Less than a month till we are home for Christmas! Another reason to be thankful - we are almost completely moved into our new one bedroom apartment. And by "moved in" I mean all the stuff from Unit 55 is now residing in Unit 60. We aren't quite unpacked or settled, but it's getting there. It's nice to finally be in a place and know we are here to stay.

Ok, on to my reason for this post! I'm behind on pictures and updates. There seems to be a week delay on all your Grand Cayman news. Last Tuesday we went to another annual Pirates Week festivity, the SMB turtle release. Every year the turtle farm releases about ten 1-year-old turtles into the ocean. I don't know why they do this, but it sure does draw a crowd! We got there about 30 minutes early, and it was already packed.

The first turtle being released

This is a small portion of the attendees. It was like turtle paparazzi (although since I was there and also taking pictures, I guess I looked as crazy as these people).

I'm not sure how people are chosen to walk the turtles down to the ocean. Last year they had all kids, this year I think they were raffle winners. The lady below was so proud to be carrying that turtle. She was parading it around and showing it off like it was a trophy.

There it goes!

After all the turtles were released the crowd broke up. There was this beautiful sunset - dark clouds with just a little slit for the sun to come through.

My last two pictures are the pumpkin lasagna I made last week. I got the recipe from one of Jenn's visitors, and was excited to give it a try. I consider it a definite success. Can't beat all those superfoods! (You might be able to see Brent's electric toothbrush sitting behind the lasagna on the kitchen counter. Lime Tree Bay doesn't allow outlets in the bathroom. What the heck?)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Boat Day and Stingray City

Well, it took me exactly a week to post these pictures, but better late than never! As I mentioned in other posts, last Monday was Remembrance Day so Brent got the day off work. About 20 people from PwC and BDO (two accounting firms on the island) put together a boat tour. It was a half day trip with five stops (lasting from about 1-9pm) - all for $25 a person!

These pictures were taken with my Canon PowerShot point and shoot...I was too nervous to take the SLR on the boat! I borrowed a couple shots from others on the boat too. As always, you can click on the images to see them larger.

Our first stop was just a wide open part of the ocean where you could dive for conch. I didn't get in at this point, but Brent did. He borrowed a snorkel mask and retrieved a conch shell for me!

Look at all the shells they found!

The creature inside the shell - see his eyeball at the top corner? The boat driver cut out the conch so we could feed it to the stringrays at Stingray City. He also made some kind of cracker spread with it, which was pretty tasty.

The second stop was Stingray City. This is such a crazy spot. Basically it's a sandbar out in the middle of the ocean. You can't see any land, but it's only about waist deep. It's a big tourist spot - over the years countless boats have come along with pails of cut-up squid meat, which attracts dozens of stingrays to the feeding spot.

I found this history on wikipedia, which I thought was pretty interesting: "It may be that stingrays began gathering in the area decades ago when fisherman returned from an excursion and cleaned their fish in the calm water of the shallows and sandbar area. The fish guts were thrown overboard and the stingrays eventually congregated to feast on the discarded guts. Soon the stingrays associated the sound of a boat engine with food. As this practice turned into a tradition, divers realized that the stingrays could be fed by hand."

Brent was one of the first to jump in. Watch out, Brenty, it's coming right for you!

Look at all those stingrays surrounding Brent and Nate!

These next three pictures are from Mike Edgington. He brought his camera out into the water and got some cool shots. Here's a stingray up close and personal!

Brent holding a stingray

For the record, I did pet a stingray, but opted not to hold one at this point. I was pretty busy concentrating on not audibly freaking out every one brushed against my leg. That and repeatedly turning in circles to make sure none of them snuck up on me.

After I got back on the boat, I took this picture of all the jet skis parked at Stingray City. It's neat that this is just a public spot open to anyone who can get here.

View from boat window

Crowds interacting with the stingray

What boat trip would be complete without cheez-its?

The third stop was Rum Point. This is a beautiful public beach on the north side of the island. It had hammocks, picnic tables, and sun-loungers all along the shore. We didn't stay too long here, but I definitely want to come back and make a day of it.

On the long pier - Brent caught in a yawn smile :)

The fourth stop was Starfish Point. This was an interesting stop too because you anchor to the beach, but there is immediately this crazy drop where the ocean gets really deep. So the boys were all doing jumps off the top of the boat. That's Brent in the front:

So pretty!

Jenn took this picture of us from the top of the boat:

The fifth and final stop was to Kaibo, which is the name of the beach and the restaurant. We ate dinner at the beach bar, which was a great spot to watch the sunset.

After dinner we had a 30 minute ride back. It was very dark, but I liked night riding on the boat. At one point we could see fireworks going off for Georgetown's Heritage Day. They looked so much smaller when viewed from the ocean! All in all, it was a perfect day.