"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for He has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers."
TRIP #4: GRAND CAYMAN
Our fourth 10 FOR 10 trip was one simply for family time and relaxation. Over the past couple years we have been lucky enough to take a trip (though some through tagging along for AC's work) to an "exotic" beach location during the early winter months, and this year we planned one specifically to recuperate from the busyness that our life has recently become. Even on our other beach trips, there has always been an agenda of adventure or work, and while this one did have an exciting learning experience with some aquatic wildlife, most of the time we sat on the beach or lounged in the water. AC and I spent a ton of time talking about plans for 2015, while SC was in and out of the water all day, building sand structures, making friends with other vacationers, and looking at all the fish milling about with her scuba goggles. It was the most easy, relaxing, do-nothing trip we have ever taken! It is definitely on our list of places to go back to one day.
The one adventurous part of the trip was when we went to swim out in the ocean with semi-domesticated sting rays. We went on a tour that included a stop at "Stingray City," a sandbar out from the north side of the island, plus two snorkel stops over the various barrier reef chunks. The stingray swimming was interesting, though we will probably never do that part again. The water at the sandbar came up to my chest, and there were hundreds of stingrays of all sizes swimming at various ocean depths in and around all the people. I say they are semi-domesticated, because they are used to being fed, so they are curious and friendly, but they have not had their stingers removed, so your feet must stay firmly in the sand. With the water level up so high, and the surf moving you around, it isn't very easy. AC had an easier time staying in place because he is taller, except he was holding a squirming SC who was terrified of getting stung. She was actually fine until some of the other women in the tour group started shrieking, and then she got it into her head that she had something to be afraid of. The two snorkel stops were amazing, and we saw so many interesting fish. We saw a "stars and stripes" puffer fish, so many angel fish, schools of silver damselfish, bright blue tangs, a needle-nosed gar, and a "stoplight" parrotfish. Luckily, we didn't see anything scary or dangerous like moray eels, barracuda, giant grouper or lionfish. We regretted our decision not to bring any cameras at this point, though we did it on purpose so as not to be constantly looking through a lens vs. experiencing and relaxing. Oh, well! We did get a few fun shots from the cameras on the phone while we were on the beach.
Finally, if you know me well, you know that I collect artisan pottery (mostly mugs) from each location we visit. Usually I forget to do any research beforehand, which leaves us trying to cram in a last-minute unplanned trip to a local artist shop nowhere near where we are staying or going for the last day. This time, however, I made a plan and found 3 Girls and a Kiln online, and was able to contact them about what they might have to offer and how to purchase. They crafted this beautiful mug with coral on one side, and the Grand Cayman motto (from the Psalm listed above) on the other, and actually delivered it to me at the hotel since I was leaving before the next craft fair day.