Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cayman Today 2/14/2011

Happy St. Valentines Day
From: Michael Orhelein, “The Portrait Artist”

I have learned that if you take the time to see, you will always find something of interest. This blog is meant to share with you those people, places, and things that I have found in my daily travels. Although portrait photography is my passion I am fascinated with the world around me.

“3 days on the Brac”

Cayman Brac is one of the 3 Cayman Islands, about 80 miles from the largest island of Grand Cayman and only about 11 miles from the smallest island, Little Cayman. I took a short vacation there last week and felt I just had to share my experiences with the rest of the world.

My main purpose in going was to explore the possibilities of doing some great photography and therefore, it was for me, a working vacation. I did not expect, however to have enjoyed the island so much.

The airport is as you may have guessed is on the small side and quite a nice change from the hassle of the big city airports. While waiting for a cab to the Hotel Alexander I met a man from Cuba and for the short time spent in conversation I was taken with the friendliness of a complete stranger, just minutes before. Should the U.S. ever amend their policies on visiting Cuba, I’ll have a friend there to show me around.

Friendliness is a good word to describe my experience with everyone I met on the Brac.

The people at The Hotel Alexander were no exception. The cheerful and lovely manager Karen is involved in all aspects of the hotel and seems to be everywhere. She is genuinely interested in providing her guests with an excellent experience in their travels.

Chef Errol is incredible in every aspect of food preparation, great taste being the most important. I’ve never really enjoyed a wrap until I had one from his kitchen. I had to have another and yet another. The Friday seafood buffet was also incredible! Stone crab claws, shrimp penne pasta with big shrimp, the most incredible red conch chowder, the best lobster thermidor I’ve ever had, and so much more. The desserts looked wonderful, but I was too full from second helpings of chowder and lobster. Matthew the bartender makes a magnificent rum drink that is all his own. I wonder why, I can’t seem to remember what he called it. He’s another one of the friendly staff so I’m sure he’ll make one or two for you as well. While visiting the bar I engaged a local in some good conversation. He told me about the island and some of the great places I should see. We had a few drinks and swapped a few stories. I’m sure you’ll meet Cleveland, he owns the hotel. The restaurant hostess, Dannette was also wonderful. She kept an attentive eye on all her diners and never left you feeling abandoned as can sometimes happen in the restaurant business. Even the housekeeping staffs were cheerful! It is safe to say I will return and indeed look forward to staying there again.

Apparently the 3 islands differ greatly from each other. The Brac is somewhat rugged and thanks to my guide TJ Seveck, I experienced more of it than I could possibly have hoped for when I landed there. TJ has lived on the Brac all his life and knows the landscape intimately. We met early in the morning and proceeded to the eastern bluff. There I was able to photograph the sun rising above the jagged iron shore. Iron shore is a very sharp and jagged rock which surrounds much of the island. Being the strong rugged type myself, I hiked paths and climbed the cliffs to get some great photographs. I have to tell the truth though, TJ was quick to carry much of my gear and I even had to grab his arm to steady myself at times. He knew where the owls and the boobie birds nested. He knew where to find a fluffy white boobie chick, and he knew the islands caves like the back of his hand. I could never have created the photographs I did with out his assistance. For all his time he only charged $35, but I’d appreciate it if you’d tip him ten extra.

I was totally worn out after my time spent exploring with TJ. I never got the chance to dive the beautiful reefs, maybe next trip. Speaking of diving, TJ free dives, going as deep as 90 feet on a breath of air.

Some contact information:

The Hotel Alexander – 345-948-8222

TJ – 345-927-4835

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