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Have you ever met someone who immediately makes you feel welcomed into their life? Someone who makes you feel like you matter? That’s how it feels to meet Nina Squires, owner of Beach Bubbles soap shop in Bodden Town (and the entire strip mall, but we’ll get to that in a second.)

When I met Nina on my first full day in Grand Cayman, I was, well, nervous. It was my first trip to the island and my first time working with CCC. As soon as I met her, my anxiety was gone. She reminded me of one of my biggest—albeit fictional—idols, Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation. She had a sunny disposition, was a hard worker (she was prepping a massive order when I arrived), and was, above all, kind.

When I started asking about her business and her life, she answered my questions very matter of factly, seemingly unphased by the past and I was genuinely surprised by her coolness. Her story isn’t an easy one to tell, but she does it with a grace that is truly admirable.


Humble Beginnings to a Colorful Future

Nina was born in New York but grew up in Connecticut. Her family was in the hospitality industry and they came to Grand Cayman often; they even owned a home on the Northside of the island. At one point, Nina decided to stay for an extended time. She got a job at a local hotel and originally intended for six months...27 years later, she’s still here living the dream.

When asked what brought her to Grand Cayman, she nonchalantly says “God...and an airplane.”

Today, Beach Bubbles is one of Bodden Town’s most popular tourist stops. It’s famous for the unique, colorful, handcrafted soaps and other natural products, but it wasn’t always that way. Beach Bubbles was started out of, for lack of a better word, desperation.

Ten years ago, Nina co-owned a business with her best friend in Cayman, but the deal went south and Nina was left homeless, with half a million dollars stolen from her, and no best friend. She and her rabbit moved into a vacant shop offered by a friend (in the same building Beach Bubbles now lives). She knew she couldn’t sleep on the floor of a shop for long so she racked her brain for ideas. What would she do? Could she open a new business? What would it be?

She had been experimenting with soap making for awhile before this, but just as a hobby. When one of her friends suggested she turned her hobby into a business, she thought the idea was ridiculous, but she wasn’t in a position to say no. So, she did it. With the help of some friends, she started Beach Bubbles. She started mixing soaps, experimenting, and creating a product—a product that now attracts thousands of people every year, many of them repeat customers who stock up for the year.

But it didn’t happen overnight, and this is the part of the story when Nina replaced Leslie Knope as my biggest idol. For nearly seven years, while she built her business, Nina did everything she could to make ends meet.

She sold her car, slept on the floor of her business, and even hooked up a hose and showered in the back room where she made her soaps. It wasn’t an easy time, but Nina never gave up. About four years ago, Beach Bubbles took off. Nina was not just back on her feet, she was floating on air.

“I got up everyday, and I did what I could do,” Nina said. “After I let it go and said ‘you’re going to be grateful and that’s it,’ Tripadvisor stuff started to happen, all this good energy started to happen.”


Not only is the "Be Happy" soap pretty to look at, it's great advice to follow.


She's Got What You Neem

Nina contributes a lot of her success to the Neem, a tree that has been used in medicine in Eastern cultures for centuries. It has been used to treat everything from leprosy to malaria to liver problems.

She did her research, did some experimenting, and created an entire line of neem products. She started selling them in her store not knowing how popular they’d be, now people come to Beach Bubbles to stock up products made with this miracle plant.

“People would say ‘I’ve tried everything, I’ve tried every ointment, I’ve spent thousands of dollars, but this is what worked.’ It’s helped hundreds of people,” she said with a glimmer in her eye. “I just felt like God sent me that neem tree to help people, because He knew I would and I’m not charging more for it than I would for my other stuff.”

As she talked about her neem products, I have to admit, I was skeptical. I grew up watching cheesy infomercials with “miracle products” on TV and learned that most of the time, that stuff doesn’t work at all. But something about Nina made me trust her.

As soon as I walked into her shop she noticed the nearly dozen mosquito bites I had on my arms, legs, and face (yeah, that was annoying) and recognized that I have a heightened sensitivity to them. Since I was a kid, mosquitos follow me around like moths would a flame and their bites would swell, turn bright red, and itch for weeks longer than normal. I’ve tried everything in the past and had essentially given up on remedies because nothing worked. Nina gave me a bottle of her neem lotion and I tried it because I was too polite to express my doubts. To my surprise, it worked! My bites no longer itched and were virtually gone after a couple of days. Her “Bug Off” mosquito repellent lotion also kept me from getting any more bites the entire week I was on island.

As far as I’m concerned, Nina is a miracle worker.


"Never Give Up."

Four years ago, Nina bought a run-down beach house across the street from her store and has been fixing it up. For the first time in years, she had hot water and a real shower.

The real cherry on top of the sundae that is Nina’s life came last September when she was asked to purchase the building that houses Beach Bubbles. She now owns the entire plaza with the goal of creating a tourist destination in Bodden Town. She’s added an art shop featuring local artists and already has a tenant—Cayman Cigar Co. (we’ll learn more about them soon!). A coffee shop is currently under construction in the last suite in the building set to open sometime in 2020.

She’s living the dream.

“I got up and started my whole life over again,” Nina said with tears in her eyes. “I just fought and worked every single day, and I can tell you, to this day right now, the Lord is good.”


One of Nina's favorite pieces on display in the art shop.

My New Friend

While I visited with Nina, another customer came into the shop and I watched her interact with them. The customer had come in a few days prior to get a few things, but had returned because she needed to share the Beach Bubbles products with her friends back home. It was like she had known Nina for years. The two chatted about the soaps and lotions around the store, the customer raving to her mother that Nina’s “heart shows in every single product.”

At one point, the woman mentioned how she’d been visiting the island for years with her family and that her father had missed their trip last year because he was ill and passed away a few months later. She teared up, as anyone would, and Nina joined her in that pain—she’d lost her father a couple years before, too. The two went from raving about the products to hugging each other, sharing in the mutual pain of losing their fathers. I couldn’t help but tear up myself when Nina showed the woman the photo of her father she keeps at the register.

When the guest parted, she said “I love you, Nina” and Nina returned the sentiment.

After giving me a tour of the rest of HER plaza, we chatted for a little bit longer and she gave me tips for getting around the island (since I had no idea what I was doing) and told me to call her if I needed her because she understood how scary it was to be in a new country almost by myself and thought I might need a friend. She was right, of course. I didn’t end up needing to call her, but I did go by and visit my new friend before I left to thank her for her hospitality and show her how well the neem had worked for me. She was thrilled.

People visit Beach Bubbles for the first time to get colorful soaps for their friends, but they quickly find the shop has so much more to offer. Not only do people come back again and again because they fall in love with these special products, but they also come back because they fall in love with Nina’s kindness. I know I’ll be back again and again to visit my new friend.

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This is part two of Wenzil Burlington's story. You can jump back to part one here.

Marriage & Job on Island

In 1967, Wenzil Burlington's girlfriend Martha (who lived on island) told him she was ready to get married. After thirteen years of seafaring, Wenzil came home and the two married at the Church of God in West Bay. When asked how they originally met, he smiled and said, “She was my best friend’s little sister.” They all grew up three blocks from each other in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood of West Bay. After the ceremony, Wenzil took a job in maintenance at the Caribbean Club so that he could stay at home in Cayman with his new bride while also working part time at the Pan Cayman House. The couple would go on to have two girls and one boy. Their first girl was an angel baby who tragically only lived a few days. After their loss they were blessed with a baby boy, Derren, in 1969, and then a baby girl, Magdalyn, in 1972.

Burlington Plumbing and Repair Company

Around 1969, the year Derren was born, Wenzil founded Burlington Plumbing and Repair Company. Through his company, he worked at just about every hotel and condominium in Cayman including Christopher Columbus Condos many many times. When asked point blank, he says he retired ten years ago, but during our conversation he had to take a call where I overheard him taking notes and telling the listener on the other end that he’d have someone call him. It was someone looking for a plumber. Wenzil then told me he still owns the company, but that he just doesn't go out on calls any longer.

Retirement & Undefeatable Joy

Retirement wasn't a choice Wenzil wanted to make, but his health forced him to stay inside due to sun strokes. “I couldn’t even stand to look at the sunshine.” For four years he had to stay inside during the day, and would wait until nightfall to run his errands. The only relief he could get was from taking cold showers. Physicians told him there was nothing he could do except stay in and try to keep cool. This went on until his wife implored his doctor to find something that would help. The doctor gave Wenzil a new prescription to try, and it helped. He was able to finally enjoy some daylight again, although he had to switch medicines along the way, and still has to take it easy in the heat to this day.

One would never know that Wenzil has endured such a painful and isolating illness—he has a palpable spirit of pure joy and gratitude. He went on to explain how much he loves living in Cayman with his family—he and his wife live directly next door to their son and grandson, and their daughter lives nearby as well. He says the whole neighborhood is “close,” too. “I like the peacefulness, the lovely people. This is a beautiful place.”

As we wrapped up the interview, we both decided it would be fun to go see his old schoolhouse. Wenzil said he has to go through the Burger King drive-thru to pick up some meat patties on the way home, and offered to get a couple for my husband and I. Back at the condos, I picked up my husband, and we followed Wenzil to his house so he could drop off a patty for his wife, and then continued on to the schoolhouse. When we arrived, we discovered it had unfortunately been torn down. Not wanting the adventure to end, Wenzil invited us to follow him to see an old wire lighthouse in West Bay. We parted ways at the lighthouse, but not before he gave my husband and I each a beef patty for the road. (Sidenote: these patties are really popular in Cayman, and similar to a hot pocket—only ten times better.)

True CaymanKindness

A few days later, I arrived home in the states and received a call from Wenzil. He wanted to check in and see if I’d made it home safely, and we both agreed we were thankful to have met one another and made a new friend. If that’s not CaymanKindness I don’t know what is! He said he probably forgot to tell me some things for the story, and I assured him it's not meant to be comprehensive. As I think about it, I'm amazed at the amount of stories I heard from him in such a short amount of time, and I am in complete awe of this man's epic life.



Thank you to Magdalyn Burlington for getting us the historical photos to add to this post. In our correspondence, I learned that Wenzil won several awards that he humbly forgot to mention during the interview. A couple that Magdalyn sent along were the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cayman government for Commerce Business Development in 2003, and the Medal of Honour Commander from the Order of the Cayman Islands in 2010. Magdalyn also shared two poems that Wenzil wrote a couple decades ago that you can read here and here.

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One of my favorite things about visiting Cayman is the instant change of pace I feel as soon as I arrive. The moment I step off the plane, I feel calmed and welcomed by everything—the breeze, the scent of the ocean, and, of course, the people. The last time I visited, I didn’t even have to get off the plane to be welcomed by one of Cayman’s colorful residents.

I met Marc Thomas on my flight, and he started chatting with me as though I were an old friend. He told me everything I could have ever needed to know about his life, his kids, and his love for the island we were flying to. Initially, I was a little caught off guard by how friendly and open Marc was—I fly pretty frequently, and I don't always end up having in-depth conversations with my seat-mates. However, after chatting with him for just a few minutes, I couldn't wait to hear more of his story, so I asked him to lunch. We met up a few days later and became fast friends even though we’d only known each other for a few days.

Marc shared with me that he’s originally from London and first came to Grand Cayman in 1988 when he was visiting a friend he met while at university.

Immediately, he fell in love with the island’s beauty and easy pace.

“As soon as I stepped off the plane, I thought, ‘This is it,’” Marc told me.

He visited a few times after that, and in 1990, he moved to the island permanently.

When Marc first moved here, there was a population somewhere between 30,000 and 35,000, and Grand Cayman was a much different place. The island was relatively rural with no cinema, only a few restaurants, and limited services—in fact, services were so limited, it took six weeks to get the telephone installed in Marc’s first apartment! But he didn’t mind the delay; he was on island time now.

During his nearly 30 years on the island, Marc has lived quite the life. He’s a father of three, an avid scuba diver, and a world traveler, having visited about 40 or 50 countries! He also has an unexpected passion: theater.

Theater is a passion Marc discovered by accident. As he tells it, he experienced a mid-life crisis around age 50, and, while most guys would have fulfilled that with a fancy new sports car, Marc wanted a new hobby. Between his office and his home was the Prospect Theatre, which was advertising the first rehearsal for the annual Christmas show. He decided to drop in for a look and somehow ended up in the show. He’s been a part of the Cayman Drama Society ever since, and has been cast in plays like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Barefoot in the Park.

Even though it started with an impromptu audition, Marc says the theater has changed his life and given him more than something to do in his free time—it’s given him a community.

In 2017, Marc’s wife passed away, and his theater family was there to provide the support he and his family needed. What surprised Marc even more was the overwhelming support he and his family received from what felt like the entire island of Grand Cayman. People he didn’t even know were showing up at his door with food for his family and offering to assist in any way they could.

“You’d find it difficult to find somewhere more wholesome and friendly than here,” he said.

I can’t help but agree.

Seeing Marc perform is on the top of my list for my next trip to Cayman. Luckily, the Cayman Drama Society puts on a number of plays and musicals throughout the year, and the Prospect Playhouse is only 17 minutes away from CCC. Marc also suggests making a trip to The National Gallery, home to an array of beautiful art exhibits that allow visitors to immerse themselves in Cayman expression.

If you're an art lover, be sure to add both of these to your "must visit" list next time you're on island—you might even spot Marc on stage! 

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Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, located on the island’s north side, combines two of our very favorite things about Cayman—incredible natural beauty and rich history! John Lawrus is the General Manager of Botanic Park, and we recently had the honor of taking a tour of this incredible park with him.

John shared with us that Botanic Park, owned jointly by the Cayman Islands Government and The National Trust, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The park was opened by its namesake, Queen Elizabeth herself, in 1994. (John had the honor of meeting the Queen at the 2008 Chelsea Flower Show, where the park took home a Silver Medal!) When it first opened, the only completed attraction was the Woodland Trail.  Since then, the park has grown by leaps and bounds, encompassing 65 acres in total and boasting beautiful features like the Floral Colour Garden, the fascinating Heritage Garden, and award-winning orchids, plus it's home to the Blue Iguana Recovery Program through the National Trust. You can even spot some blues roaming throughout the park!

Originally from Canada, John moved to Cayman around 18 years ago to work in Botanic Park. He’s always had a passion for plants since childhood. Though he initially studied finance in school, the pull towards working with nature proved stronger than the pull towards numbers. He went back to school, attending the Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture, which is one of the most highly regarded educational tracks in the horticulture field. The coursework was intense, and John said that the students even had room inspections! But he knew the program provided unparalleled job opportunities in the field, so it was all worth it. After graduating, John worked at the UBC Botanical Garden in Vancouver before seeing a job opening in Cayman. From there, he's worked his way up from Garden Supervisor to Deputy General Manager to his current position as General Manager today.

John’s passion for preservation and his enthusiasm for the calming power of nature is contagious. As a bit of an “indoor girl” myself, I’m not usually drawn to learning about plant life on my own. But hearing John talk about the origin of certain trees, flowers, and uses for medicinal plants made me realize I've been missing out. I really enjoyed learning about which herbs can be used in teas to help with various ailments. John also told us the story of a particular tree that was knocked over by hurricane winds. The tree was able to withstand the damage and has continued growing, just in a new direction.

My personal favorite part of the park was the Heritage Garden, which pays homage to native plants that have played a huge role in Cayman’s history. (It's also the winner of the Silver Medal from the 2008 Chelsea Flower Show in London!) In addition to highlighting important species like the Silver Thatch Palm, it also includes fruit trees, a medicinal garden, plus an original Caymanian house, owned by the Rankine family circa 1900. John told us that eight members of the Rankine family lived in the cozy iron-wood home—it's a little hard to imagine today! Instead of having a lawn with grass, the home was surrounded by a sand yard, which has been replicated down to the white conch shells lining the pathway to the front door. There’s even a “caboose” kitchen, which is separate from the main house.

Silver Thatch Palm lines the roof of the Heritage House, which is decorated to match how it would have looked in the early 1900s.

As we walked through the park, John shared his favorite aspects of his job—getting to spend time in nature and the ability to provide a beautiful place for others to come and enjoy. He loves being able to work in a place that provides peace and relaxation for others. John says he especially loves the diversity of plant life in the park— beautifully landscaped areas located next to spots with a more “rugged” feel where the plants grow a little more freely.

Enjoy a stroll in the shade on the Woodland Trail. 

John is also incredibly proud of the work being done on the new Children’s Garden within the park. With much-appreciated support from all the Rotary Clubs across the island, construction on phase one began in December 2018, and the Garden Grow Zone was just recently completed. Once it’s finished, the Children's Garden will include awesome features like a sensory garden, splash pad, maze, observation tower, and more. As a father to a young daughter, John said he was very excited to help provide a place where kids can be kids—to play in the dirt, get a little sweaty, and just enjoy spending time outside. He said the design for the park kept children of all personalities in mind—from those who prefer to run around and crawl through tunnels to those who would rather take in their surroundings a little more quietly from a comfy seat. (If you're interested in keeping up with the Children's Park, follow Botanic Park on Facebook for more info!).

When he isn't taking care of the park, John enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter. He likes to relax by going fishing or spending any time around water (which, as we know, Cayman offers the best of all water-related activities!) He also lives on the north side of the island, and gave us a few hints on the best place to grab a bite in the area—he recommends Over the Edge Cafe and Kurt's Corner in Old Man Bay, which is "the truest pub on the island." He recommends even more highly that you get your lunch to-go and come eat it in the park.

A blue happily takes in some sun.

Next time you're on island, we can't recommend a visit to Botanic Park enough. John even says, it's "the most peaceful place on island," especially to take a walk, and who are we to argue with him? So pack yourself a picnic and come take it all in. And if you see John, be sure to ask him to show you his favorite plant in the park!

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If you’ve ever been to the Cayman Islands National Museum, you have seen the incredible exhibits and experienced the history of Cayman. Meet Brian Watler Jr, the man who is responsible for designing these amazing exhibits.

Brian Watler Jr. was born and raised in Cayman. His family has been living in Cayman for many generations spanning back to his great-great grandparents and beyond. Brian says his favorite thing about the island is the culture. When describing the culture, Brian stated, “We have a way of doing and saying things that is so unique. Every single district has its own ‘accent’; you can tell if someone grew up in North Side or George Town just by their accent. You can even tell if someone’s from Cayman Brac or Grand Cayman by their accent. For such a small island, the culture is extremely unique.” He has been able to turn his passion for the culture into a career working as a PR/Media and Design Specialist for the National Museum.

Brian describes the National Museum as the living connection to Cayman’s past. His view is that the museum allows current and future generations to experience the island’s unique cultural heritage. With a passion for both design and culture, Brian can think of no better fit for a career than the National Museum.

Brian’s journey with the National Museum began in 2015 when he interned for the museum to design their 25th Anniversary logo. They were so pleased with the design that they brought him on board to design the 25th Anniversary exhibition and publication. Since then, Brian has taken on his current role where he works to create press releases, update the museum’s social media and website, and other PR-related activities. However, his favorite part of the job is getting to use his design skills to create a cultural and historical experience for museum visitors. Brian says that while most people with a degree in graphic design get to design flyers and brochures, he gets to design exhibits!

Last year, the museum installed an exhibition titled, “Cayman Airways: Celebrating 50 Years of Our National Airline.” Designing this exhibition was extremely enjoyable for Brian. As a child, he always had dreams of becoming a pilot, and he still owns a collection of airplane models, a few of which are Cayman Airway custom-made models. Most of all, Brian enjoys the interactive nature of this exhibit. “What I really enjoy most about the exhibition is the exterior airplane fuselage—it’s as if you’re boarding the aircraft—then you enter the gallery and see this fascinating display of airplane models ‘flying’ in the case.” This exhibit gives an in-depth look into the history of Cayman aviation from its humble beginnings to now employing over 400 employees.

Not only does Brian design amazing exhibits for the museum, he also teaches Quadrille (Cayman’s traditional dance) to students at Edna M. Moyle Primary School. This is his second group that he has worked with to teach Quadrille. His first group of students won a Gold award at the National Children’s Festival of the Arts in 2012. In his free time, Brian is actively involved in helping out in his community and church. He loves to photograph the island and visit with the elders in his community to hear their stories. Brian’s passion for Cayman culture and his community is obvious. He is even going back to get his Master’s Degree in Marketing: Digital Marketing and Advertising since his work for the museum is so closely related to marketing.

With his passion and knowledge, we had to ask Brian what other activities were a must-do for Cayman visitors. He recommends Pedro St. James Castle, Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, Cayman Crystal Caves and Cayman Turtle Centre. He believes all of these institutions are vital to understanding Cayman culture.

The next time you are on island, make sure to stop by the National Museum and learn more about the culture of Cayman and see some of Brian’s work!

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Did you know that Grand Cayman is home to one of only a handful of bioluminescent bays in the world? Bioluminescence is a fancy name for “light-up” creatures like fireflies, glow worms, and jellyfish. In Cayman, tiny light-up creatures live in the waters off the north side of the island, a short boat ride away from Rum Point. We recently took an unforgettable tour of the bioluminescent bay led by Tom Watling, who helped us see these enchanting creatures up close.

Tom and Lisha Watling are the owners of Cayman Kayaks, who offer eco-friendly tours of the bioluminescent bay by double kayak or by boat. Cayman Kayak tours run only on moonless or low-light evenings so the experience with the bioluminescence can be as enjoyable as possible. The tours embark from Rum Point, and while it’s a bit of a drive from West Bay, it’s well worth the trip.

We took the boat tour of the bay, and the boat itself was almost as neat as the tour! Tom’s boat, Moonless Moments, might look like a regular catamaran at first glance, but it was custom designed with the touring experience and the utmost safety of the bioluminescence in mind. The boat is electric, which protects the organisms from harmful fuel emissions, and its walls are high and painted black to help block out nearby streetlights. Panels in the floor of the boat pop out, allowing tour goers to get up close and personal with the bioluminescence without swimming in the bay. Tom explained to us that everyday things like sunscreen, lotions, perfumes, and hair care products are harmful to the bioluminescence, so swimming in the bay is strongly discouraged and tour goers are advised to avoid or wash off any sunscreen or lotion beforehand.

As we entered the bay, Tom passed around a paddle to put in the water. When we looked over the side of the boat, suddenly the water surrounding the paddle lit up a bright blue. It was impressive and beautiful, and that was just the beginning of the light show. Once the boat stopped inside the bay, Tom popped out the panels in the boat’s floor, and we were able to play in the water and see the bioluminescence up close. With every swipe of my hand, dozens and dozens of little creatures lit up blue along my movements like fairy dust. Though small, the light provided by these creatures is mighty!

Tom and a friend kayak in the bioluminescent bay (Courtesy of Cayman Kayaks

Though the organisms in Cayman’s bioluminescent bay haven’t been studied officially, Tom told us that they are believed to be Pyrodinium Bahamense. Dr. Michael Latz of the Marine Institute in San Diego, California, toured the bay with Tom and noted that the organisms were very similar to those in another, extensively studied bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico—Mosquito Bay. Though he didn’t put the Cayman creatures under a microscope, he felt there were enough similarities to hypothesize that Cayman is also home to the Pyrodinium Bahamense.

In addition to the magic of the bioluminescence, getting to chat with Tom during the tour was a treat in itself. He told us that his parents first visited Cayman from Canada on their honeymoon in the 1980s and immediately fell head-over-heels for the island. It would be almost a year before they went back home at all! As a first-generation Caymanian, Tom is a strong advocate for protecting and conserving Cayman’s natural beauty. He recalls the first time he really noticed the bioluminescence, saying, “I was out on my back out on a dock looking up at the stars—the star gazing is great this side of the island. I went to shore and picked up a coconut and brought it to the end of the dock, threw it up in the air, and watched it splash. It didn’t splash as per usual, though—it glowed, sparkled, and because the end of the dock was in shallow waters, shoals of fish shot out from every direction of impact from the coconut hitting the surface. Phosphorescence! I thought to myself. Incredible!

When asked what it is about the bay that invokes such passion in him, Tom answered, “It’s the small things that makes the muscle behind my eyes tighten and my heart squeeze into tears of joy. That is what Cayman’s wildlife is all about to me—the knowledge of what you are looking at, and then getting up close to the tiny life structures and truly appreciating these life forms.”

A naturalist in every sense of the word, Tom shares his passion for nature with those on his tours. One of my favorite moments of the tour was when he stopped the boat and took the time to point out some of the constellations in the sky above, gently encouraging each of us to take a few moments, breathe in the ocean air, and be present in nature.

With Tom after our tour. 

Next time you visit the island, I highly recommend you book a tour of the bioluminescent bay—it will be an experience you won’t soon forget! And if you’re interested in helping keeping the bay happy and healthy for generations to come, you can read more about how you can support Tom and Lisha’s efforts here.


*Cover photo courtesy of Cayman Kayaks
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The blue iguana is a beautiful and important animal native to the Cayman Islands. The blue iguanas, or blues, were once faced with extinction, but are now on their way back to a stable, healthy population. We were lucky enough to get some insights into how the blue iguanas are being revitalized from Nick Ebanks. Nick is the Operations Manager of the Blue Iguana Recovery, which is an initiative of The National Trust for the Cayman Islands. The recovery itself is located on the grounds of Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park on the north side of the island, about a 45 minute drive from the condos.

The Blue Iguana Recovery Program was founded in 1990 as an effort to save the critically endangered species, whose population was down to only 30. The facility cares for and monitors blue iguanas, aids in the breeding process, strategically releases ready iguanas into the wild, and works with research institutions to help ensure genetic diversity within the wild population. In July 2018, the program hit a huge milestone when the wild population reached 1,000 blues. Though the program has successfully saved the blue iguanas from extinction, the work isn’t over. The ultimate goal is for the blues to be able to naturally breed and support themselves in the wild, thus eliminating the need for the program altogether. Nick says, “If we lose our jobs—perfect. That’s the goal.”


The very photogenic Peter

As Nick showed us around the rescue, I asked him a few questions about himself. Nick is a native Caymanian from West Bay. Though he didn’t always expect to be a conservationist, he’s grown to deeply appreciate and respect all forms of living creatures. After a period of time working with bats, he began volunteering at the iguana rescue around four years ago. After getting plenty of on-the-job experience, he worked all the way up to his operations manager position today. When asked what he likes most about his job, he said he really enjoys spending time outdoors, and working with great, like-minded people who are all very dedicated to taking care of the iguanas. He said conservation is very fulfilling and meaningful work, plus it’s an added bonus to be free from the restrictions that come along with an office job.

As we looked around, one of Nick’s coworkers, warden Alberto, joined us. Alberto showed us the “main attraction” blue iguana, Peter. Peter was born in 2003 to wild parents, but he liked to hang around Botanic Park so much that he basically adopted the staff himself! The program recruited Peter as an educational animal since he is so friendly—he enjoys being picked up by Alberto to be shown to visitors and isn’t bothered at all by attention. As I soon learned, Alberto himself is also a bit of a park star. He has a huge heart for the iguanas and is a beloved tour guide, so I’d highly recommend you request him if you stop by!


Alberto and Nick 

In addition to meeting a few of these sweet iguanas, the best thing about the tour was learning all about the animals from Nick. The iguanas blue color can change due to their environment, the sun, their food, and mood. It’s also a great indicator of overall health, so the staff monitors each iguana's color every day. One of the neatest things I saw while visiting was a small territorial spat between two roaming iguanas, Shreddy and Orro. Nick explained that Orro tread a little too closely on Shreddy’s territory, then pointed out how Orro took up a submissive posture and her color turned more light blue as a show of, “Hey, I know you’re top iguana, it’s all good here.” It was very cool to see up close!

As you might have guessed, Nick’s passion for animals and the Cayman wilderness extends beyond just his day job. At home he is fostering a dog named Vinny. He also tries to spend as much time as possible outdoors, doing everything from climbing, exploring, and observing native birds and insects to getting in a game of ultimate frisbee. “I like to keep it nice and simple—busy and simple,” he says. Once he reaches the goal of the blue iguanas being able to sustain themselves in the wild, he'd like to work with revitalizing native bird populations.


A beautiful blue enjoying basking in the sun in Botanic Park

I highly recommend you come visit the blues yourself the next time you’re on island and say hi to Nick, Alberto, and Peter. You can catch one of two daily tours given, Monday through Saturday, or you can schedule a private tour. Then you should see if you can spot some of the roaming blues in Botanic Park! Check out their website for more information about tour times.

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One of the best questions you get to ask while visiting Cayman is “where are we going to eat next?” Boggy Sand Cafe is a Caribbean-inspired restaurant, located in the Jacques Scott Market Place, just 1 km from Christopher Columbus and next to the West Bay Foster’s Food Fair. In addition to knock-your-socks off food, the best part of my Boggy Sand experience was getting to meet Farah.

Upon first arriving at Boggy Sand Cafe, we were greeted with a huge smile by Farah, who would be our server. She seated us among an array of cheerful purple and green flower arrangements and joked we could take photos for the restaurant’s TripAdvisor page. Her warmth and humor were magnetic, and before long we were chatting.

Farah is from Jamaica originally, and she came to Cayman in the 1990s to work. When it comes to the island, she “loves everything about it,” from the peaceful atmosphere to all the friendly people, locals and tourists alike. "It's a very nice place to work." Farah has been at Boggy Sand as a food and beverage server since the restaurant opened, around one year ago. She said she’s big fan of the restaurant’s Caribbean menu and it’s bright and modern decor. In her down time, you can find Farah at the gym, where she likes to keep fit and active by doing little bit of everything—weightlifting, cardio, you name it.

While we waited for our food, I noticed that Farah checked on the other guests often, happily making conversation and asking questions with her dynamite smile. Since she seemed to enjoy the aspects of her job so much, I asked her what drew her to serving. “I have a passion for food and service. I love it, so I’m doing it!” she said with a laugh. Making people feel at home and comfortable is one of her great joys, and she loves to be around lots of people. Plus getting to meet so many new and different people at the restaurant is a big perk.

When it comes to the menu at Boggy Sand, you will be spoiled for choice. They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as daily specials featuring extra Caribbean flair. Farah said her personal favorite dish is the jerk chicken, which she says is little spicy, but not overwhelming. Jerk chicken made its way to Cayman from Jamaica, so it also serves as a reminder of her home. 

If you’re looking to really shake up your next meal, Farah recommends the turtle stew, an authentic Cayman dish, adding “you have to be adventurous!” when you’re choosing your vacation eats. My personal recommendation is to start off with some spinach dip, which is served with fantastically seasoned sweet potato chips, and then check out their pizza menu. I had the margherita and I still dream of it now that I’m home—there's no skimping on basil at Boggy Sand!

Farah made us feel so welcome and taken care of during our visit that we didn't want to leave! Though Caymankindess radiates from all around the island, Farah's warmth and cheer was above and beyond. Next time you visit CCC, take the short trip down the road to Boggy Sands for breakfast, lunch, or dinner—or maybe even all three! Be sure to say hello to Farah and ask for her menu recommendations for the day.

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While many of you already know and love her, we’re so happy to tell you more about our very own “moviestar,” Patricia!

Patricia has been with Christopher Columbus since 2007 and has lived in Cayman for over 20 years. Originally from Jamaica, Patricia visited her sister here years ago and fell in love with with the island. She says her favorite part about Cayman is two-pronged—the people and the beaches, and even better is getting to meet new people on the beach! Her love of the beach also extends to her recommendations for guests—she says the number one thing every visitor should do is just kick back, relax, and take in the beautiful Seven Mile Beach. Once you’ve gotten in some vitamin sea, then you should check out the Turtle Farm.

As our regulars can attest, Patricia is a fantastic ambassador for the condos. She loves to take care of guests, always making sure everyone feels like they’re coming home when they arrive at CCC. “Making things nice for our guests,” she says, “that’s me, that’s who I am.” She recounted one memorable experience, when she helped a guest who was getting married on the beach. Patricia saw that nothing had been decorated yet, so she decided to help out to make sure everything was done well and in time for the ceremony. When the guest saw the decorations in the gazebo, she exclaimed, “Oh, our decorator did a great job!” Patricia, who didn’t know a different decorator was coming, told the bride-to-be that she’d actually put up all the decorations. Surprised but thrilled, the guest said she would have to tell other brides to just have Patricia handle the decorating because she did such a fantastic job!

For fun, Patrica loves to swim in the ocean with her German Shepherd, Bogie, and dance the night away. While reggae and salsa music are some of her favorites, she isn’t picky when it comes to dance music—she'll dance to anything and with anyone who wants to join in. She says she loves to dress up and enjoy all that Cayman nightlife has to offer. In order to fuel up for all that dancing, she enjoys stopping by her favorite restaurant, Catch, for some crab legs or other seafood. From the food to the atmosphere to the ocean views, Patricia says Catch is “amazing.” (You can read more about the owner of Catch here.)

In case you were wondering, Patricia’s “moviestar” nickname comes from her featured role in our Christopher Columbus Condos video (which you can watch here!), plus her fabulous and vivacious personality. If you ask nicely, she will no doubt give you an autograph!

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We first featured Willie, our Maintenance Man at CCC, in our newsletter a couple years ago, and wanted to share more with you about this kindhearted man who will be celebrating 31 years of service at Christopher Columbus Condos next month.

Almost everyone has met one of those people who quietly work in the background, with a servant's heart and no request for recognition, yet we know without them a business, organization or family would not be as successful. At Christopher Columbus Condos our behind-the scenes-guy is Joseph a.k.a "Willie."

Willie just so happens to call one of our housekeepers, Delma, his wife! When asked what it’s like working with his wife, he said it’s a blessing that “can’t be put in just a few words.” It’s a joy every morning to get to ride to work with his wife by his side. Willie is a big family person. He has two girls and one boy, of whom he’s very proud. His oldest daughter is a lawyer, the next daughter in line is a doctor and his son works in customs at the airport. Willie has 6 biological grandchildren and 5 grandchildren through an informally adopted son from Honduras. Willie himself is originally from Honduras.

On any given day at CCC you can see Willie fixing a hut, cleaning the grounds or hanging lights up for a party. He loves seeing tourists visit because it’s good for the island and he recommends outdoor activities (Turtle Farm, Botanic Park, etc.). His favorite place to chill out, aside from being at home with his family, is Smith’s Cove. He says he also enjoys eating out a couple times a year, but that he mostly enjoys cooking for his family, making things like turtle stew and rice, ribs on the grill, stew conch and green salads. “They say I’m a pretty good cook,” he laughs.

After being at CCC for over 30 years, Willie has got to know owners and other staff members very well (some have come and gone). He has especially enjoyed the special bonds that are built. He said a previous owner even took part in a couple of baptisms that his church had in the CCC pool. You read that right! In the 90s (he guessed about 20 years ago) a couple of baptisms took place at CCC. I joked with him that I had no idea the waters were so holy. He attends church at the Church of God Gospel Hall and worships with a congregation called the Ambassadors of God that he helped found over 20 years ago with the pastor. They rent a place in Georgetown and are currently looking into building a church for permanent placement.

Talking with Willie is such a pleasure, one that I hope each of you will get to experience. He has the most warm personality, and has a way of reminding you what is most important in life. He says, at the end of the day, “I don’t ask for too much other than seeing my family happy.”

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