Relaxing day... in the Caribbean

Trip Start Aug 17, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Cayman Islands  , Grand Cayman,
Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Only thing better than rest and relaxation is... rest and relaxation while floating in the Caribbean Sea! And you know what was even better? The sun came out for a while... and I didn't feel like I had to be working!

We got going early this morning from Georgia for the longest leg of the trip to Ecuador. Just under 800 nautical miles, it will stretch the reserves of the plane's fuel to the legal limits, involve a lot of open water south of Cuba, and will otherwise probably be pretty dull. Except for the occasional passing thunderstorm, of course.

At least, that's what it looked like in the morning. I hate mornings.

Savannah was a nice place to be. Hotel was comfy, restaurant was amazing, and we discovered that the big building on the airport with "Gulfstream" written on the side meant only one thing: they manufacture the Gulfstream business jets there (my personal favourite of the business jet line). The twin-pack of F/A 18 Hornets parked out front of the FBO also made for some good photography moments.

We took off right on time, about 0930. I had set up customs and arrival on my own for Grand Cayman, so it took a bit of e-mailing and phone calling to make sure things were all set. The Cuba permit came in with a confirmation, so when I filed my flight plan I included this approval number in the remarks. Somewhat anti-climatic considering the cost and effort to get the permit in the first place.

We were vectored around Miami a bit, then turned on the airway straight over Cuba as I had planned. Flying over Cuba, once you are expected and have permission, was a strangely quiet affair. Other than Westjet and Air Canada, no other aircraft were on the radio. I was barely spoken to the entire trip. I reported over the inbound point, then again over the outbound on the other side, and otherwise never heard from Havana Centre. Was actually somewhat relaxing compared to the chaotic vectoring and radio work over Florida.

Arrival in Grand Cayman was also fairly uneventful. I landed and taxied in, we were ushered to customs and immigration where we filled in a couple forms, then we were whisked into a taxi immediately, off to our hotel. And this is only at 2 in the afternoon!

We were checked into the Marriot on Seven Mile Beach. I knew this, but couldn't even imagine what this place looked like, until we arrived. It has easily shot into the top five hotels I have ever stayed in. It's a beach resort, and is literally right on the white soft sand of Seven Mile Beach. My room is on the fifth floor, and I can see the beach from my balcony if I look to the right. Wonderful.

When we walked through the main lobby, we found the walkway out to the sea starts through a jungle-type path with a large pond on one side. It has a big fountain at one end, with lots of nice comfy padded couches and chairs for lounging in. But upon closer inspection, the water was filled with turtles... real turtles! It's called "Turtle Lagoon", and there have to be at least 30 turtles living in this long meandering pond, ranging in size from only 2 inches across on the shell (babies), to slight larger than a dinner plate. Apparently, during the day, we could go get a cup of turtle food from the customer service hut and feed them. I watched a young boy feeding them, it was a riot. They all try to scramble up the sides of the rocks to get on shore where the food source is. Hilarious.

Besides the turtles, I also saw geckos (some much larger than I've ever seen before), and even a bright green iguana. Way more wildlife than I expected for a Marriot hotel!

I went for a swim in the ocean (which was as warm as a bathtub), then a quick dip in the pool (which was nearly as warm as a hot tub), followed by a mojito at the beach bar. We found a neat Caribbean cafe for dinner where I had risotto with shrimp the size of lobster tails. Had we wanted to afford $52, the hotel had an All You Can Eat Lobster dinner on tonight. Wow.

So basically, it's too bad I have to leave tomorrow. I think I like the Cayman Islands.
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