Close Encounters of the Caymanian Kind

I wake up early here in Grand Cayman and try to get a morning beach walk in before I hit the books. I don’t think my fella could’ve picked a better place for me to study for my master’s degree, OR for him to get a hip replacement.  We’re juggling both just fine.  I use my walk and an occasional snorkel to motivate me work on a few hours of studying each day. 

I walk out the front door and head down the road, which is parallel to the beach, for about ½ mile where the entrance to the public beach is located.  This morning after my walk I decided to grab my scuba gear and go right back and hop in the water there.  The strong current would help push me back down and around the point – where I can then swim right up to the beach. From there I walk across the street to our front door. (I know- I hate myself these days.)

When I got to the public beach I hid my sandals in the bushes and walked down to begin my snorkel.  It’s a bit rocky along the coast here in Cayman Kai, but fortunately there’s a nice sandy patch right near the public beach entrance.  I rubbed the Baby Shampoo into my mask so it wouldn’t fog up (It’s the miracle de-fogger) and then once my mask was secured I slipped on the flippers and floated out to sea.

I always feel such peace when I venture underwater for a snorkel. I can’t describe it, but I can honestly say I am in love with the ocean.  Because it was early and I was quite alone on  this side of the island, I decided to swim closer to shore than I normally do.  In hindsight, I would say that might not have been a great idea.

I swam slowly for about ten minutes, enjoying all of the beauty of the ocean floor and its inhabitants.  It was about then that I noticed many of the fish swimming very quickly past me. Perhaps fleeing for their lives would be a more appropriate description as I would soon come to realize.  I was surprised by their rapid movement and glanced to my right.  I was stunned to see a huge barracuda swimming right beside me.


While it might have looked like this..

Or even this...

THIS is what I saw...

I back pedaled so that I could get a better look, and realized it was at least as long as me! (Let’s say five feet, give or take an inch.)  He seemed to stop when I stopped, and then I decided to start swimming as fast as I could.  Now remember, I am pretty close to shore, so I was very surprised that he kept pace with me while I tried desperately to flee.  As I was kicking and swimming as fast as I could I kept wondering if barracudas were man-eaters.  Are they? The teeth on this fella were ferocious looking, and I was sure he was eyeing me for his next meal.

I stopped again when I realized that he was keeping up with me, and he swam forward. Then, he turned and faced me like a bull in a ring.  I looked at him and was SURE that he was ready to come in for the kill.

“This is NOT happening.” I said to myself, and I stood up in the water.  I was thrilled that it was knee deep and tried to quickly make my way to shore.  I took off my flippers and mask and ran up the sand. 

“Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap!”  I said to myself.  I stood for a minute and tried to compose myself.  I am pretty sure that this was the most scared I have been on a snorkel.  Sure, I was in knee deep water and it was ONLY a barracuda, but yikes!

Then I made a decision. 

I walked down the beach a short distance, say about ½ a city block, and decided to get back in the water.  I know, I know!  It’s like going BACK into the house when you know the bad guy is waiting in the closet.

But I did it anyway.

I went back in and immediately looked for fish that weren’t fleeing.  When I scanned from left to right and felt pretty sure I was in the clear, I continued my swim.  I made it around the point and went under the pier.  I snorkeled to the spot where I always make my exit and sat on the beach with my snorkel and flippers in hand.  My heart was beating like a racehorse, and I felt like Sheriff Brody as he was paddling into shore after blowing up Jaws. 

Well, except for the dead friends and blowing up the shark and all. But other than THAT, I felt an enormous, barracuda-sized feeling of relief.

Tomorrow, I decided, I would swim STRAIGHT at him.  Yep.  I’m going to walk right back into the scary house and look the bad guy in the eyes. After all, you never really hear of a barracuda attack, right?


I like to learn lessons over and over again, just to be sure they STICK.

We had a couple visit us for a long weekend when we were in the Cayman’s last month.  They are a very fit couple who would get up early each morning for a 6 mile run before enjoying the rest of the day.  We spent time each day snorkeling, bike riding and jet-skiing.  There are many great perks about having friends visit on the island, and one of them is that you do things that you know every tourist should do.

On Saturday we hopped on the jet skis and headed to Stingray City.  This is a sand-bar situated between Rum Point the main part of the island. It’s halfway across the Cove and you can see all of the boats anchored there when you look out from the beach. 

When we got there we anchored the jet skis and stood on the bar among the hundreds of stingrays. They glide past you slowly, and some nudge you as they pass by.  They are very friendly and seem to enjoy the attention.  We left stingray city and went on to visit Cabana Bay, Morgan’s Harbor, Stingray City and then landed back at Rum Point.  It was an incredible, beautiful adventure.

Our friends have an amazing underwater camera, and were able to get amazing shots all throughout their stay. Each night Ed would download the pics onto my computer so I could have copies.  That night I saw some of the underwater shots from Stingray City.

“Oh my GOD! Look at that @$$! Do NOT share that pic!” I said to him laughing.  “Yikes!”

“No!” Donna said, “No, that’s not…”

“Oh stop!” I said to Donna. “Don’t try to make me feel better! That @$$ is huge!”

“No,” she interrupted again, trying to make me feel better.

“Listen,” I said to her, “I need to print that picture and put it on my fridge! I will never eat again!”

“No, what I was trying to say is…That’s ME. That’s MY  @$$.”


“See?” she pointed, “That’s MY bathing suit.  And I do try to run every day….”

“Oh my GOD.  Wait. Oh.  Well, um, that @$$ is VERY tiny.  VERY, VERY TINY.”

Oh my sweet Jesus in heaven, why can’t I keep my mouth SHUT ONCE IN A WHILE?

(You know I like to #*$& up once a day.  It keeps me humble.)


A very happy birthday, indeed.

Today is my mother’s birthday.  My mother, AnnaBelle, was born 80 years ago in a very small town in Pennsylvania.  Her father was a coal miner, and her mother (my Baba) was a stay at home mom with 3 children at home.  There were five more children to follow. My aunts and uncles would laugh as they told people that my grandfather used to say that every time he hung his pants on the bedpost my grandmother would have another baby.  I didn’t fully appreciate that story until I got much OLDER, but it still makes me smile.

I was sharing some stories about my mother with a good friend of mine this morning. We were having an early lunch at Panera, and she wanted to hear more about my visit with the medium.  She had seen her several months earlier and was just as impressed as I was. In fact, my visit with her prompted me to see the medium.

We talked a bit about my mother, and I shared that today was her birthday.  We sat quietly for a few minutes, lost in our own thoughts, and then both gathered our things to leave.  It was a busy day at Panera and most of the tables were full.  We began to walk past the tables and booths when a young woman stood and picked up a baby carrier.  She turned towards us and said in a loud voice, “AnnaBelle!  Come on, Annabelle, it’s time to go!” 

Startled, I glanced around searching for the woman’s child when I spotted an adorable toddler picking something off the floor. The girl looked up at me as I stopped right before I would have run her over.  She had to be about 3, with a full head of dark curls and big blue eyes.  She smiled and then turned and ran to her mother.

“Is her name Annabelle?” I asked (stupidly).

“Yes, it is!” she replied, as she we walked towards the front of the shop with one arm holding a baby carrier and the other scooting Annabelle along.

I smiled and said, “That’s my mother’s name.  It’s beautiful.  And so is your daughter!” 

“Thank you!” she said as she walked through the door.

I wanted to stop her and say, “No, thank you.  Thanks for reminding me that there really are no coincidences -just beautiful reminders that life is amazing.”

Happy Birthday, AnnaBelle.  Thanks for spending part of the day with me…