“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.” – Anthony Bourdain
When I decided to move to Cayman around a year ago I had no clear vision of what living on the Island would be like. However, having grown up in the grey skies and concrete landscape of northern England and having recently endured an eye watering, toe tingling winter in Boston I was sure it would be a welcomed change. When I discussed the move with my friends and family they had very different ideas about what it might be like, from millionaire playboys dodging tax in their yachts to something more akin to the classic 80’s Lilt Ad’s shown on UK TV’s (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYcS9NP6vOI). The truth, as ever, lies somewhere in the middle and here are 4 ways living in Cayman will enrich and change your view of the world…
- Your perception of time will change.
Einstein once said “When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.” Well Cayman time is relative and it will slow you down whether you want it to or not. In Cayman two phrases you often hear are “Island time” and “soon come” more than just phrases, these are a mantra, a way of life that refuses to be hassled and hurried by modern societies need for instant gratification. Initially when faced with this nonchalance in the face of urgency you may become frustrated that the plumper you called 2 weeks ago is still on his way and that the extra data plan you upgraded to is not getting used because you can’t get a wifi signal. But as time goes on you learn to embrace the culture, reducing your stress levels and enjoying the better things in life. Who cares about a leaky sink in the kitchen anyway? And the films you’re downloading will ‘soon come’; you can always go to the beach while you wait.
- An amphibious way of life is a better way of life.
Being from an Island nation I should already have a strong appreciation for maritime pursuits but, although the UK loves fish and chips, for the majority of the population a trip to the seaside is a bye gone novelty which had its heyday in the Victorian era. Cayman’s motto is “He hath founded it upon the seas,” and it describes the island perfectly. The sea is an integral part of life here, not just historically with pirates and naval history etc but it is also a major focal point of social life. You quickly learn a new admiration of the water and are provided endless opportunities to take advantage of what it has to offer with water sports, scuba diving swimming, boating, fishing, beach parties or just cooling down in the blazing sun. If you are lucky enough to go out on a boat you inevitably find yourself agreeing with River Rat’s literary pretensions in saying “There’s nothing . . . absolutely nothing . . . half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats.”
- You will be an expert in many cultures.
Okay so you may not be an “expert” but you will definitely learn a lot. Over 113 nationalities have come to the Islands and their influences and nuances have seeped in Caymans culture. Apart from Caymanian natives, Jamaicans, English, Irish, Pilipino, Australians, South Africans and a number of South American patriots make up the majority of the demographic. Cayman is a great place for open minded people to experience humor, language and idiosyncrasies of other nations. The bars here are packed full of people looking to make friends and share experiences. Cayman will help you learn how to make good friends in a short time and how to say “cheers” in many languages.
- $9 for a pepper. It’s not right, but it’s OK.
One of the most import adjustments of moving to a new place is learning a little about the local economy; what products and services should cost, and doing your best not to getting ripped off along the way. Many people moving to Cayman note the cost of living is high, and that is true, particularly if you stick to the same lifestyle you have before relocation. The sooner you accept that things don’t cost the same the happier you will be – you can spend hours walking round the super market comparing prices and factoring in exchanges rates (1 GBP Yorkshire puddings priced at $7 was a particular low point for me in the frozen isle) but it is a futile process. Embrace the change and sample the local produce, find happy hours and restaurant deals, make friends with tradesmen and shop workers and soon enough you’ll see you aren’t broke and can still enjoy an excellent standard of living…particularly if you like chicken and coconut milk.