It has also meant I've started to come to Cayman again.
The Cayman Islands is a British colony like Bermuda but without the same constitution meaning far closer supervisory links than Bermuda. Whether this is good or bad is a matter of opinion but in the wake of the Turks & Caicos Islands' spectacular financial collapse and take over by the FCO in Whitehall (my friend Mark from Bermuda playing a leading role), HMG and the mandarins are taking a far closer interest than before.
It's also nearing election time both in Bermuda (on 17th December) and in Cayman (some time in May 2013) so rhetoric of the highest level is being blown out in all directions. I can't vote in either jurisdiction so am in the happy position of observer in both cases.
Bermuda has a new party contesting the election and as of last week Cayman had a 3rd grouping -- too early to call them a party -- meet the public to try to raise the notion that honest, transparent and fair government doesn't just have to be a pipe dream. I know I've over simplified things somewhat but this lot are educated successful businessmen and women who've just had enough. Were in their position I'd probably feel the same too.
I mention this for today I had lunch with my Caymanian friend Bryan who'd talked about this new 'movement', for want of a better word, in Cayman that hopefully presages changes for the better. And during the same conversation last time we met we'd talked about the finest Cayman cuisine and where would he go. "Simple", he said. "Welly's".
Welly's looked a bit of a shack when I arrived with my business partner, Robert, and went inside. It was really small, about 10 foot square with a bar along the length of one side with a rasta and barman looking curiously at us. The rasta had a beer and a big dark liquor based drink by the look of his ruby red bloodshot eyes and said "I think you two gentlemen are looking for the restaurant which is that building over there".
He was right and that first attempt corrected we had no trouble finding the restaurant where we found that the choices were fairly simple: either stewed or fried and stewed fish, goat, salt beef or beef with plain rice, peas and rice or rice and beans -- yes there is a difference. Bryan said you had to also have the beef soup which is really something. And he was dead right, it was something. Just fantastic in fact. As was the salt beef and beans with plain rice that I had (the others' choices also received a favourable report). It was unlike me to actually eat the beans but they were too good even though it was likely to condemn me to an afternoon of intestinal discomfort.
I played tennis that evening and during the apres tennis beers I mentioned Welly's and everyone not only knew it but knew others that were waaaaay better too.
It only goes to show that quality sometimes comes in the most curious of shapes.
A few days ago I drove out to the deserted east end of Cayman as I periodically go through splurges of thinking about buying a small place in Cayman. There's lots of space so no restrictions on who can buy or build like in Bermuda. It also means that you're unlikely to make any money on real estate as there'll be space for years so it really is a lifestyle choice. I'd found a real estate magazine and took a look at a place called Beach Bay and found, well, no beach really of any sort but a rather Californian looking home.
|No beach in sight...|
|... but there was this modernistic looking house.|
I also found the home of the new Shetty hospital, a fair step towards the east end. The plan is to spend $250 million building a medical facility to enable operations to take place outside the hideously expensive USA, but close by. 15,000 new people in 10 years apparently plus all the trickle down benefits to the economy. Cayman really is trying hard to make things happen. Lets hope it actually happens.
|At present not even a building site but who know in future?|
It even makes me feel Christmassy already.
Mind you the reason I was in Cayman was business and in particular a conference where the keynote speaker was a guy called Erik Wahl. He was an inspirational speaker but did his talk through the use of art. I'd slipped into the session to watch and the organisers put on a U2 video of "Beautiful Day" which I watched for a bit as nothing much seemed to be happening on the podium other than some skinny bloke putting out water and setting up something presumably for the speaker. The song went on all of a sudden it appeared that this bloke was doing something with crayons on a black board. The song continued some more and as it hit the final notes, all of a sudden there was Bono. Pretty impressive!