One of the great pleasures about being in Cayman is to have guests over. I recently had the privilege of having my dad over for a week.  Its obviously different from “back home” where we see our friends and family for a day or less most of the time. So when in Cayman, we get to spend lots of quality time with our loved ones and in a great place.

I also got to discover something new about my 77 year old dad: The man is a snorkeling manic!  He had only snorkeled once in his life before (in Cayman a few years back, but not in ideal conditions) This time we did it right and started with easy stuff and moved on to bigger and better snorkeling.  What a great time we had!

Here is a great shot of us in the very calm waters that week-end – we were really lucky as the conditions were close to perfection. Although he’s a good swimmer, I insisted he wear a life vest for which he did not put up much of a fuss 🙂

We also got to see some lovely turtles at Spotts Beach

As well as all kinds of coral formations with plenty of fish!

Here is a short video of him snorkeling at Cemetery Beach – with all the fish around, its easy to see why he had such a good time.

What do to after all that exercise in the water?  Head over to CayBrew for a cold beer of course 🙂

We our course went to the beach, the Crystal caves, a Sunday brunch, the Submarine,etc.  Essentially to many of the things residents don’t really do unless we have friends or family in town. Of course, each time i’m more than happy to do them all over again and again.

Many locals have been following the whole UK “Brexit” from the European Union with much interest.  Its widely known that the Queen has waning influence in the island and that some local politicians are looking north, about 500 miles north for new opportunities in the wake of the UK’s historic departure from the EU!

So it was announced two days ago that a closer link to the US will be sought after – ideally joining NAFTA – the free trade deal between the US, Mexico & Canada. That deal is currently being renegotiated so the timing to get Cayman included in the deal was right.  In fact, during one of US President Trump’s week-ends at his Florida estate, he came for a series of quick meetings with local officials to indicate his support in including the Cayman Islands in the Free trade agreement, stating that he loves our local Rum and Stingray City.

Here is the President with the local minister of foreign affairs, Bobby Conner.  Things are sure looking up for Cayman exports!

In future years, there is room for negotiation on Cayman getting a status not unlike the US Virgin Islands as a sort of “Quasi US state”.  It makes sense, we already use the US$ so we already have a foot in the door so to say.  That would also allow major chains such as McDonald’s, Walmart and Hooters to open stores in Cayman.

According to local reports, the second wave of the negotiations to become part of the USA will start on April 1st. 2018 – next April Fools day 🙂

Three years ago, I did my first dive on the USS Kittiwake.  That blog post from 2014 can be found here.  (http://micho.org/cayblog/?p=2678) A quick recall – the Kittiwake is a former US Warship that was decommissioned in the 1990’s and purchased by the Cayman Islands in order to make an artificial reef for diving.

So after 3-years and I am now equipped with a GoPro underwater camera, the level of photography will be much enhanced!

Since my last dive at the Kittiwake, there have been a few changes.  Changes that have been caused by the weather.  The first change is that the boat shifted closer to the reef formations.  Still a good distance away, a storm a year ago or so moved the boat a number of feet westward. The other change is that the “wheelhouse” aka where they steer the boat, is no longer present. A storm this winter which had some big currents ripped the roof of the wheelhouse apart.  Oh well – nature slowly taking back its place I guess.

From the surface, the Kittiwake does not look like much – but we can already see that its a big ship.  It sits in only 50ft or so of water.

Almost immediately, we can see the large school of Horse-Eye Jacks.  These fish “adopted” the Kittiwake almost as soon as the ship was sunk in 2011.  They are a very large group now.

In this video you can get a good feel for how graceful these fish are and how many there are swimming around.

Here is the newly “open air” wheelhouse. 🙂

Now we go inside the ship.  Here one of my fellow divers enters … following the dive instructor who clearly knows where he is going.  In any case, there are many cut-outs and a fair amount of light that gets inside.  Someone with claustrophobia would probably not enjoy, but everyone else will 🙂

Here is the video of most of the inside visit.  Near the end when I look up, that is the former smokestack – very cool!

Since the Kittiwake has been sunk for almost 6 years now, nature has certainly been adapting and taking back its place.  Here are a few shots of formations around the ship.  First is … well I don’t know what this is! 🙂  Some kind of coral tubes – the longest one was around 2ft long and very pretty.

Some more kind of coral.  A lovely shade of blue with a yellow base of some sort.  As you can see, I don’t really know what I am looking at, a part from the fact that this pretty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In every small area, life has moved in – coral, sea urchins, small & large fish, etc.  When you take the time to look around at the small stuff here, there is so much to see.

I’m very pleased with my second Kittiwake dive. Its also a great wreck dive for novice divers who want to do something a bit more exciting.  The dive instructors will give you a guided tour both inside and out.  definitely a lot of fun and a must-see for anyone diving in Grand Cayman.

A few weeks ago was the annual “Cayman Alternative Investment Summit” – CAIS – where finance folks from around the world gather in Cayman.  This year the venue was at the new Kimpton Hotel.  Very nice.

As always, the event had an impressive lineup of speakers.

First up, we had the Kelly brothers. The Kelly brothers are very impressive individuals. Scott Kelly recently spent 340 days (almost a year …) on the ISS space station.  He holds the record of 382 days total in space.

Mark Kelly was the commander on a number of space shuttle missions including the final shuttle mission in 2011.  He is also the husband of former Congresswoman Gaby Giffords.

Their talk was very good and inspirational. Here they are on stage.  Note they are identical twins!

After the session I was able to get a selfie with them 🙂

Next up, we had a keynote by Arnold Schwarzenegger!  Very cool.

Unfortunately as is often the case in high profile talks, no photo or video allowed a part from official photographers.

Here is on of those official pics.

His talk was VERY good. He gave his 6 rules for success which everyone nodded in agreement.  They are:

  1. Trust Yourself
  2. Break some rules
  3. Don’t be afraid to fail
  4. Ignore the naysayers
  5. Work like hell
  6. Give something back

Next up was one of the presentations I was most looking forward to.  If you have watched the Netflix series “Narcos”, you will understand. (If you have not seen Narcos, I recommend it)  Narcos is essentially the story of how Pablo Escobar, the notorious colombian druglord was taken down.  The two US DEA agents, Javier Pena and Steve Murphy portrayed in Narcos were at the conference – not the actors of course, the real guys.

Here they are giving their talk.  Lots of awesome “war stories” and references to stuff we saw in Narcos where they were consultants to make sure the story was a realistic as possible.

Their slide show was really interesting, showing us for example how cocaine was smuggled and some of Pablo Escobar’s homes.

Managed to get a selfie with these guys also 🙂

Few last things!  Below I am holding a pure gold bar.  It was 28lbs and surprisingly heavy since its not all that big.  Current market value : Half-Million US dollars!

In the evening after the conference was the Legends tennis tournament. I am not a huge tennis fan, but it was still nice and good place to chit chat.  Here is someone most people, even if not a tennis fan will know : John McEnroe.  The famous tennis player who is most known for arguing with the Umpire and disputing calls.

Whew! Lots of action in those two days. 🙂  There were of course finance/business related talks, but i’ll stick to the more exciting stuff for everyone’s benefit.

A little while ago, the ocean in George Town was probably the calmest I had ever seen it.  When its that calm, you can take snorkeling a bit farther out to sea especially with the lack of currents we have in the area.

So it was a return to Eden Rock ; a local favorite. As you can see by the first pic below; crystal clear visibility and almost no wave action – Cayman snorkeling at its finest.

This being Eden Rock, the swim out to the coral formations is a few hundred feet out from shore.  Here is a shot back towards where we left off and some of the George Town office buildings where a few of my clients have a stellar view from their desks.

Many grotto’s and caves at Eden Rock, which is why this is also a popular spot for divers.

Some nice “brain coral”.  Obvious name for these formations!

A selfie shows you how clear the water is.  The sun was really strong so to avoid a sunburn on my back, wore a surf shirt for this outing ; was a smart move.

Plenty of anemones around here.  Very pretty!

Here is a cool video I took of one of my favorite things to see when snorkeling: a school a blue tangs.  Something about these guys just puts a massive smile on my face.  Anyway, I hope you will enjoy this short video of them.  They were in +15ft of water and at one point I dove down to get closer.

This is what is looks like from the sky. Note the Eden Rock diving center at the bottom.  You have to swim out to those dark formations. A few hundred feet, but well worth the effort.

If ever in Cayman and the ocean is calm, this is a great place to snorkel.  Since its a bit of a swim, i’d advise novice snorkelers to wear a life vest (you can rent one on-site) Also, never go out there alone – its far away from help if you get into trouble!

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