Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?
– George Carlin
After months of anticipation, we had arrived to the Cayman Islands.
We were greeted warmly by humidity, our school director Jeremy, and our guide for a couple of days, Matt. We loaded our four large bags, four medium-sized bags, four small ones, and a bike and were on our way to our new apartment.
Grand Cayman is renowned for great food. Our first lunch out on at Cimboco was revealing though. Our delicious mix of two small pizzas, mac n’ cheese, and a fish sandwich came out to $55 Cayman dollars, or roughly $66 American! That was our introduction to Grand Cayman sticker shock.
Folks from Grand Cayman are very friendly. Every time that I have greeted someone with a “Howdy, how are you?”, they have cheerfully responded.
Fortunately for us, the government recently issued a law that requires citizens and residents alike to take a forty question computerized drivers test in order to attain a holographic turtle drivers license. The passing mark is 32 out of 40 correct answers. If you do fail, you pay another $25 registration fee and retake the test. If you fail a second time, repeat the previous process.
Nadine and I both studied the recycled paper drivers manual cover to cover the day before our exams. Being a British Overseas Territory, the Cayman cars follow the British driving system of driving on the left hand side of the road. With only seven or so stop lights on the entire island, these have been substituted with roundabouts.
The morning of the drivers test, Matt took us to the DMV where Nadine and I entered the nicely air-conditioned testing room with computers sitting on top of formica tables. Shoot, I figured it would be as easy test to pass. The screen showed your score after each question.
I started off swimmingly, I missed two of the first three questions. Ah shoot! The previous day, one of the other new teachers told us that it took him three occasions to actually score an 80%. You have to keep in mind that he is from New York and his response to any driving is flip ’em the bird and yell a “Yo momma” joke out the window in quick succession. I was afraid that I was going to soon follow his Yankee footsteps.
I reached that critical point in the exam where I had correctly answered 24 and already challenged myself by missing 7. I may not be a mathematician, but I realized that it left me with 9 multiple-choice questions with only misstep left.
On the next question, I calmly articulated to the jovial patrol officer that two of these answers were pretty ambiguous. Over the next 8 questions, not that I really needed it though, he “guided” me through the maze that is the Cayman Islands drivers test.
I passed with flying colors, 33 out of 40. Nadine had the same score . . . without any guidance.
I also have something that people only dream of owning, a Cayman bank account. Unfortunately our account seems to be missing quite a few 0’s behind our balance.
We have lived in the water since our arrival. It has either been in the massive pool with trees as a backdrop or in the second most beautiful beach in the Caribbean, Seven Mile Beach. Number one just happens to be located over on Anguilla, Shoal Bay East.
The Cayman Islands are a melting pot of nationalities. Sixty percent of the 55,000 inhabitants are non-Caymanian. The most common nationalities are Jamaican, Honduran, American, British, and surprising to me, Filipino. Our apartment, Rosedale Apartments, only has 4 buildings, but the residents originate from England, Australia, Italy, Tennessee, Nicaragua and Canada.
When Nadine and I started our international job search last year, we wanted to live in a Spanish-speaking country, but in my week here, I met people from Colombia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, and apparently there are folks from the rest of Latin America as well. That means I should have plenty of guest speakers for my Spanish classes.
Finally the saddest news of all. I now owe my sister $5. We made a very important bet years ago. I said I wouldn’t do this until pigs flew. Well, they started flying in full force earlier this week. I purchased my first cell phone.
I have always avoided purchasing a cell phone for the fact that I just view it as just another loss of freedom and being attached to technology. People can be in contact with you at anytime. You’re always plugged in and it scrambles your brain. You can’t focus longer than 15 seconds. While living in Omaha, one of Nadine’s coworkers just gave her a phone. Well, it all came down to the fact a land line is much more expensive than a cell phone. So Nadine and I have now entered the twenty-first century. It is far from being smart.
Well, there is our first week on Grand Cayman. Time to start educating citizens of the world.
John and Nadine
P.S. We also purchased cable for the first time ever as well.