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Blog Home > Archive (March, 2016)
Shane the Conch Man

In this month’s CaymanKind segment, we are featuring local entrepreneur Shane Oakley, also know as “The Conch Man”.

Shane has been successfully harvesting and selling conch shells to both Cayman tourists and locals for over 10 years. Although his business is mobile, his favorite and most successful stand is located on West Bay Road near the famous Kittiwake shipwreck, a go to favorite for Scuba divers.

In addition to providing a beautiful selection of shells for sale, Shane is also quick to share an interesting story about the history of conch and the impact of these interesting creatures on Cayman culture. Before the age of communication as we know it, the conch shell was used as a signaling horn by native fisherman to communicate with other boats as well as villagers on shore. Shane also shared that conch meat has been a staple of the Caymanian diet for decades and is a delicacy that few are aware of. Although he grew up eating plenty of ceviche and conch burgers, his favorite dish is a fresh batch of conch fritters.

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Christopher Columbus Condos is lucky to have a close community of owners, staff and returning guests. So when one of our own has something he or she is willing to share, we love to share it with this community and newbies alike.

Seven Mile Beach sceneRussell (Rusty) Bloodworth, a longtime owner and friend of the CCC community, recently shared a few watercolors that he's painted throughout his years in Cayman. The talent, emotion and human spirit that is so eloquently displayed in each is touching. 

My favorite is the painting of the late Captain Marvin featured above. Captain Marvin Ebanks pretty much started the chartered boating business in Grand Cayman and went on to found Captain Marvin's Watersports, a very successful tour operation still doing business in Cayman today.

Rusty and his family went on their first excursion with Captain Marvin in 1981, and over the years they formed a very close relationship with the Captain. The Captain used to take them out to dive for conch, out to Stingray City (which wasn't even named that then), and then he would proceed to the North Sound reef to spear fish with his helper. Captain Marvin made an experience of it by shelling and marinating conch (pictured in the watercolor) and then he'd take his groups to Rum Point where he cooked the fish on an open fire at the beach for all to enjoy a terrific meal. He was a wonderful man and a Caymanian legend. 

Rusty has been painting Cayman 'en plein air' for over 35 years and has painted a variety of people and places; his latest painting from November 2015 features the fish market in Georgetown. Painting en plein air requires a true commitment to the chosen subject as artists stand for hours to capture the people and places they want to emote on canvas. I think this commitment to place and the human story really shine through in Rusty's paintings. He let me in on a secret that he does have a tiny three-legged stool that helps him from getting too fatigued during his sessions. Nevertheless, as a writer, I can relate to the desire to tell stories, and I think that's done so beautifully in the paintings below. As time passes so do those special moments, and by painting them they get to live on forever really unlike any other form. Some of the houses that Rusty has painted over the years unfortunately no longer exist on the island, so I hope you enjoy these special glimpses of Cayman times over the past 35 years.

blue cayman house watercolor
Cayman Boat Repair
  Fish Market in Georgetown, November 2015
         
cayman house
  cayman shed

girl hunting for crabs
         
lady at rum point
  People at hermit crab rock
  boarded up house in west bay
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