A Travellerspoint blog

Running the Chicago Marathon with Big Shoulders

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***This blog as well as other entries can be found at www.tulsatrot.com***

Time helps ease the pain, or at least forget the pain.

My first encounter with this Greek tradition called the marathon was the Music City Marathon in Nashville back in April of 2004. It kicked my butt and didn't even remember my name. That is why I prefer to stick to half that distance like the Cayman Islands Half Marathon.

Fast forward to 2015. A solid 11 years to forget what it's like to run 26.2 miles.

My CIS colleague Robyn Lynn suckered me with a nice innocent smile and the offer to run a race with her. What race you might ask yourself. Well, it's none other than the Chicago Marathon.

On a predicted brisk Chicago morning, I am going to repeat the thrill of running a marathon with 45,000 of my closest running friends.

Let's step back a bit. Before I do anything in life, like brushing my teeth, going the bathroom, applying for a credit card, purchasing life insurance, I check in with the boss of the house.

When I asked the omnipotent wife Nadine about the race, she quickly retorted, "Yeah, you should do it, because you're a grump when you don't exercise. Also, you should run for a charity!"  

I figured it was time that I start thinking of others.  

I found the Big Shoulders Fund on the Chicago Marathon website.  "The mission of the Big Shoulders Fund is to provide support to the Catholic schools who serve the poor and disadvantaged in the neediest parts of inner-city Chicago."  

Three friends of mine had worked with Big Shoulders Fund schools. I asked my University of Tulsa and Christian Brothers friends Morgan, Susan, and Rene, who also live in Chicago, if they had had any experience with the organization.  They said it was a great organization that did indeed help the Catholic schools of inner-city Chicago. I was sold.  

So, I am hoping to raise funds through my training and running of the Chicago Marathon, Cayman Islands Half Marathon, and the Mercuryman Triathlon to help support great people doing great work in Chicago. If you would like to support this in any way, donations can be made at https://bigshouldersfund.ejoinme.org/42917https://bigshouldersfund.ejoinme.org/42917

For every person that makes a donation, I will send you a postcard from the Cayman Islands. Unless of course, you live there, and I will buy you a beer or a glass of wine.

So please help me raise money for the Big Shoulders Fund. 

Many thanks,

John White

Posted by TulsaTrot 18:31 Archived in USA Tagged chicago_marathon Comments (0)

Cuba Libre: A Nation in Transition

Lesson #1 - Travel to Cuba in Controversial for Americans

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Lesson #1


Cuba is controversial. Travel to Cuba is controversial. At least from an American perspective.


Our first night in La Havana, Cuba, and we just enjoyed a blond beer at La Taberna de la Muralla in la Plaza Vieja. That place is usually packed with patrons waiting in long lines for the best beer in town. We rambled in without a delay. La Plaza Vieja was practically abandoned on this early Thursday evening.

We finally found a taxi willing to drive us out to Vedado. We had to walk out in front of the Capitolio, kilometer zero to any spot on island and a mirror image of the White House.

Riding in the taxi late at night, Horacio is quiet. Then I start peppering him with questions about life in Havana and Cuba. He opens up.

"¿Dónde vive Fidel actualmente?"

"Pues, no one knows where he really lives. We're not sure if he is even alive."

Never scared to ask a question, "So, how is life in Havana?"

"Well," he responded in a Cuban Spanish that is really quick for a country that is so lethargic in its' actions. "The "jefes" make the money. The government keeps the people poor. If we start making too much money, they fine us for random stuff. If we have too many fines, we eventually lose our license, and then we have no job . . .

Please go to www.tulsatrot.com to read the rest of the blog entry with photos and subscribe for future travel posts from around the world.




Posted by TulsaTrot 09:58 Archived in Cuba Tagged cuba an_american_in_cuba Comments (0)

You Know You're Living in Grand Cayman When . . .

14 Ways to Recognize You Live in the Caribbean

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  1. 1
You go out for a simple swim and end up kissing a very large stingray on a nice little patch of sand.

  1. 2
The sports section's lead story is a full-page pictorial of the island flag football league.

  1. 3
You affectionately refer to friends as Bobo.

  1. 4
You reach for a fleece when the December temperatures dip into the upper 70's.

  1. 5
You walk around downtown George Town dressed in pirate gear and it's perfectly acceptable.

  1. 6
Island traffic transforms your normal 12 minute drive home from work to 16 minutes. You subsequently complain about how bad the traffic is getting on the island.

  1. 7
Sunday brunch is characterized by a three-hour rolling buffet of food and Mimosas.

  1. 8

You can find the rest of this blog entry here at www.tulsatrot.com.

Posted by TulsaTrot 20:09 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged cayman_islands grand_cayman top_14 Comments (0)

A Tradition as Old as the Greek Olympics

The Cayman Islands Marathon

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Ever since the modern Olympics graced Greece, there has been the Cayman Islands MarathonCayman Islands Marathon.

Back in 2004, this picturesque race got its start. It is both marathon and half marathon along the southern coast of Grand Cayman. Today was the second time that I had completed the race, and Nadine's first time participating. Great weather with a cool breeze made it ideal with water stops manned by local organizations providing entertainment and Gatorade.


The main storyline of the marathon, other than . . .

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Posted by TulsaTrot 18:36 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged cayman_islands_marathon Comments (0)

Eating Like a Super Model

Thoughts about my time at the ACTFL 2014 Annual Conference

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Even though many languages may be dying out, there is a new one as of November 2014

Like clockwork, the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) holds its annual conference in an exotic locale every November. This year it just happened to be in the great state of Texas.

Here are a few things that I took away from the trip.

My school, Cayman International School, sent me and two colleagues to San Antonio since we're revamping our Spanish curriculum to adopt new textbooks. Our school considers Spanish a core subject and for that reason, it is taught starting with 4 year olds all the way until they graduate as a Senior. It was our responsibility to choose curriculum and materials for the entire Spanish program. It's interesting visiting textbooks companies attending the most important world language teacher conference of the year and not having actual copies of the the textbook they are trying to sell. I was only a business admin minor but that seems like a poor business model to me.


The ACTFL conference seems a lot like what a Comic-Con might look like, except rather than seeing folks dressed up at Batman and Robin, people are waling around talking foreign languages and wearing nerdy bright green shirts with #LangChat tattered across the front.

The guest speaker was National Geographic photographer Annie Griffiths. She has snapped photos across the globe in 150 countries (she has tripled the number I've visited) and uses her positin and exposure to other cultures to make positive changes in the world with a focus on women and children.


I'm not a foodie by any means, but one thing I was sure looking forward to was eating my fair share of Tex-Mex in San Antonio. Tex-Mex ranks #2 on my list of world foods behind Italian, and slightly ahead of Thai. I would compare to Tex-Mex to Scarlett Johansson and Italian food to Nadine White. My first choice would always be Italian food, but if I wasn't able to go out on a date with Italian, I would definitely try eat some Tex-Mex.

My brother Tim and I enjoyed a great lunch at Las Palapas, home of the best breakfast burrito in the world. I devoured 3 tacos and a gallon of Dr. Pepper and the bill only came out to $8. In Cayman, that would easily come out to $30.

I spent lunch with my former UNO professor and CIS colleagues on the Riverwalk enjoying some delicious chicken fajitas with Mariachi bands serenading everyone along the the water.


Friday night dinner was pretty unique in that I spent it was three educators from different parts of my professional career: Sarah is a French teacher from Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska; Jessica was a fellow participant in the Uruguay Fulbright Teacher Exchange in 2011; and Emiley is a Spanish teacher at CIS.


Dinner was at the Belgium bistro La Frite. Any chance to hang out with good people and drink Belgium beers, I'm there man. I had some grilled salmon and veggies, along with rice. This was all accompanied by some mighty fine Belgium beers. First by Triple Karmeliet and then by Kwak. Kwak came in an unique shaped glass and held up by a wooden stand. The glass looked like a large, disproportionate beaker. When the glass was full, it could stand upright on its own, but as beaker lost vital fluids, it became less stable. Towards the end of my Kwak, I was showing the Georgia teachers the shape of the glass and quick as a whip, the last two ounces found its way directly on my crotch. When the waitress came to ask about dinner, I mentioned the instability of the Kwak glass and my wet crotch, and she cheerily stated, "Sorry about that. Let's get you another dear!" And that is how you make Belgium beers mutliply.

After dinner, the entire group walked down the sidewalk giving our food a chance to digest. Emiley mentioned, "You know John, he eats like a super model. Grilled fish, veggies, and rice."


Posted by TulsaTrot 18:48 Archived in USA Tagged san_antonio_texas actfl actfl_2014_conference kwak belgium_beers foreign_languages Comments (1)

A Premier Graduation

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Cayman International School is a small school. During the 2013-14 academic year, only 500 students attended CIS. That figure includes all the diaper wearing students in preschool up to the textually active 12th graders.

As you might imagine, the 2014 CIS graduation class was not large. Eleven total students in fact. Yet three of these students made history becoming the first students to attend this fine institution from elementary school until graduation.

Like a typical American graduation, students processed to the stage while parents took photos and the instrumental band played your Pomp and Circumstance March. The entire graduating class dressed in shiny bright blue gowns and caps. They fit easily on the wooden stage at the south end of the gym. The number of family members numbered between 100 and 200 souls. The school administration talked about the merits of the class and their accomplishments. Surviving my Spanish class was never mentioned as one of them. Various awards were presented, and at last the keynote speaker was invited to take the stage.

This is where we didn’t follow the script. In general, someone notable from the community extolls the need to dream and do great things in life. Well, our guest speaker just happened to be someone from the community. The keynote speaker was the Premier Alden McLaughlin of the Cayman Islands, McLaughlin. This position is comparable to being the Prime Minister of a country and he was speaking at the high school commencement of 11 students.

When graduation comes for the 2015 class that has practically the same amount of students graduating classes in New Mexican have, 20, how are they going to top this keynote speaker?


Posted by TulsaTrot 14:24 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged graduation cayman_islands premier_mclaughlin high_school_graduation Comments (0)

The Super Bowl Shuffle

Jim McMahon and friends head to the Cayman Islands

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Super Bowl Shuffle Caymanian Style

I blew off my 2nd period Spanish class to chat with Jim McMahon and with Grant Fuhr about his recent beach wedding in the basketball gym.

Let’s back up a second for the real I didn't teach. Back in 2014, a Caymanian teenager had been bullied on the internet after losing a fight at school. Unfortunately soon after, so embarrassed and ashamed, he took his own life. He had been a basketball player on island. Former European pro basketball player Cory McGee had coached him and decided to act. He made it his goal that no other teenager in the Cayman Islands would be bullied to the point that they felt the only possibility would be taking their own life. He set out spreading the word about bullying at local schools and bringing in friends from the sports and entertainment worlds.


Grant Fuhr, Jim McMahon, and Michael Holding

When I walked into the ARC (our basketball gym), standing against the wall were former Chicago Bear’s quarterback Jim McMahon, multiple Stanley Cup winner goalie Grant Fuhr, and West Indies cricket great Michael Holding. As the 12 to 18 year old students filed into the ARC, all having been born after 1998, none were aware that the Super Bowl Shuffle even existed.



Trivia: Which guy is Grant Fuhr who won several Stanley Cups with Wayne Gretzky? Not the guy on the right!

Yet being that these athletes were “famous”, they performed the duty expected of any good citizen around athletes, they requested autographs. They asked for them on any piece of paper they could find. Since the fine institution of Cayman International School has a strong conglomerate of hockey crazed Canucks, they all flocked like maple syrup to pancakes to Grant Fuhr. That left Michael Holding comfortably sitting in a metal chair by himself and Jim McMahon stuck leaning on a wall next to me talking about golf in Phoenix and his impending graduation from BYU.

All three sports figures spoke about the need to stand up to bullies like New Mexicans should fight to keep Texans off their ski slopes. Most impressive was Michael Holding’s message upon the crowd to simply “treat others like you would like to be treated”.

Posted by TulsaTrot 06:25 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged cayman_islands jim_mcmahon super_bowl_shuffle Comments (1)

The Staycation

A weekend family vacation to an exotic land

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There are a few items that are clearly Caymanian.

One being the famous saying, "Not today bobo.".

Another would be conch fritters on Seven Mile Beach.

Another one is the staycation.


The only way to leave the island of Grand Cayman is by plane. There are no ferries that visit other islands in the Caribbean from here, so your only option is jumping on a plane. And even people living on the whale shaped slice of paradise still need a vacation. So the staycation provides the best option. You simply stay at a hotel on the lightly populated East End (whale head) of the island away from the hustle and bustle of the West End (whale fin).

Do you see the whale shape?

Our highly anticipated fall break arrived and Nadine and I decided to take our first staycation and hang out with the Roney family.

Early Friday night, we packed our 2007 Ford Taurus with bags, 3 children, a baby swing, and one mother-in-law, and made the long 45 minute drive east.


The weekend weather welcomed us with a bang . . . as in a lightning show followed by buckets of rain. This show coincided with Jon and I's maiden voyage to the outdoor bar.

The beds that pulled out of the wall mesmerized our kids. Simply having a huge open space on the water with her mother nearby thrilled Nadine. And little Annabelle was satisfied to sip on some milk and swing in her swing.


The kids spent the weekend occupying every possible body of water in the vicinity except for that one big body of water called the Caribbean Sea.

Purely by happenstance, the Kyrs 30K Solo run road race started at East End. Morritt's Resort was right next door to the Reef. There had the 19 mile race, but hey, there was no way I was going to run 19 miles while on "staycation". For slackers like myself, they had a much shorter 5K race. I decided to go with that one.

The 5K was scheduled to start at 7:00, so I woke up at 6:20. When I signed up, I (mis)understood that they were going to start the race at 7:15. So I returned to my room 200 yards down the road and waited in the comfort of a sofa chair. Around 7:10, I decided I should make my way to the starting line. Yet once I set foot on the road, I noticed a large group of people in the distance clumped together. A quick glance at my watch indicated it was only 7:11. Strange enough, that same group of people in neon outfits became more distant as I walked. The race had already started. My race started immediately and I easily added an eighth of a mile to my run. When I reached the actual starting line, everyone had rounded a corner and was out of sight. In my defense, I caught the seven year old girl at mile 2.

Our first staycation left us all refreshed and happy. In the end, the kids liked the staycation enough that they decided that they would rather live at the Reef instead of our current apartment in town.


Posted by TulsaTrot 08:54 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged cayman_islands the_staycation the_reef Comments (0)

Caymanian Postal Service

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In preparation for a student service/adrenaline trip to Costa Rica, our educational tour company sent t-shirts, journals, and luggage tags for all participants. It was my responsibility to pick them up.

One of the first little nuggets of advice I received from my fellow educators was have anything valuable sent with a friend on their flight, not through the mail.

If a package is in transit, the process is:

- Receive a package notification in your mailbox
- Stroll to the airport post office and present your note
- Post office attendant retrieves said package
- Attendant opens package and assesses if you must pay a minimal duty (tax)
- Walk away happy with your new package

The reality was slightly different.

I never received a note in my mailbox even though a delivery notification in my email stated that the package was already on island. Four days later the same email stated that it had arrived, cleared customs, and was ready to be picked up. Yet I never received a note from the Cayman Postal Service. I figured I would chance it and go without a note.

I left a two hour cushion to run between school and the post office. I strolled into the post office at 9:10 and no one was in the lobby, that was a positive sign.

I asked the man if there was a package for John White at Cayman International School.

Over the next 30 minutes, the postal worker searched the most remote corners for my package. Just to be sure, he came out to confirm my name, then it’s spelling, and finally who exactly the sender was. The box was finally located “in the back corner under some boxes”. No worries.

Then he opened the brown box and cleared its’ contents. The box of 17 t-shirts, 17 journals, and 34 luggage tags valued at $200 on the U.S. customs form produced a modest duty of $60 CI.

Lesson learned.

Posted by TulsaTrot 19:40 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged cayman_islands living_abroad post_office Comments (0)

A Caymanian National Sport . . .

Among Parents

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Nadine and I had to get to the Cayman Yacht Club, there was an important party. This festive event included a bus that miraculously turns into a boat. It was scheduled to depart soon. Fifty or so guests would enjoy some hors d'oeuvres and drinks before snorkeling. Once the boat docked, there was a catered buffet waiting with more hors d'oeuvres, hamburgers, pizza, seafood, and drinks next to the pool. This was one heck of a birthday party . . . for a six year old girl.

Yes, quite a few children's birthday parties on island have been out of "our" norm. We have felt a mix of emotions (surprise, astonishment, awe, inferiority) with the location, activities, and expense at these celebrations for small humans.

We've attended one at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. At another, Sophie rode horses. I've even seen a layered volcano cake actually spewing out red liquid frosting. And if you are going to have a kick ass birthday party, you're obviously going to need a lifeguard or two to watch all the kids in the pool who are either swimming and/or peeing. It's not uncommon to see guys walk around making balloon figures. The expense to actually host some of these parties easily surpasses thousands of dollars, but a little alcohol makes it worth for the parents too.

One aspect we have noticed, and maybe it's cultural, but kids don't open their gifts in front of everyone at the party, but once the party is done.

Without a doubt, the birthday parties have been entertaining and I have enjoyed myself as each one has been epic in its own way.

So when it's my turn to host a birthday party, there won't be any pressure. Well, in fact, I have a child's birthday . . . tomorrow.


Posted by TulsaTrot 21:40 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged cayman_islands grand_cayman birthday_parties Comments (1)

Inky the Iguana and Clucky the Chicken

Where Iguanas and Chickens Roam Free

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If you visit the Cayman Islands and don't see a chicken or iguana, you either have your head buried in a smartphone or you arrived during a hurricane. Iguanas and chickens are populous on island. Green iguanas are hanging on the sides of buildings and chickens are crossing the road so often that chicken jokes are no longer funny. Their presence permeates life on island.


Now it's important that you know that there are two types of iguanas on island, the blue and the green. The blue iguana is symbolic of Grand Cayman. Our international basketball tourney at CIS is called the Blue Iguana Jamboree. On the other hand, the green iguana is considered a pest. The blue iguana lives protected at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Garden. The green lives everywhere but there. The blue was on the brink of extinction, and is successfully rebounding. Locals would like for the green to be extinct.


Sophie even has a pet green iguana that sits outside her window sill. She fondly named him Inky. I'm not sure if she picked this name because she likes that pet name or due to the amount of his crap that stains the window ledge outside.


I can tell you this much, iguanas love the heat and they are stupid. You will find green iguanas perched on the ledges of buildings sunbathing. You will find them in the midday sun in open fields. You will also find them leisurely walk in the middle of busy roads finding the perfect spot in the sun. This is where the stupid comes into play. Pancake flat dead iguanas litter the streets, because the iguanas don't attempt to avoid vehicles until they're directly on top of them.


In some countries, people would kill for a single chicken. Here, flocks of chickens roam the city and countryside unfettered. On campus, they walk our outdoor hallways and disrupt classes with their incessant clucking. Our Italian neighbor downstairs collects eggs laying around every couple of days. When my parents visited in November, they intently passed some of the time watching chickens. My Mom eagerly took photos of chickens running around the airport and my Dad often mumbled, "that rooster sure does have a lot of hens following him all the time".

If iguanas and chickens are important items to see on your bucket list, book your flight to Grand Cayman.


Posted by TulsaTrot 13:13 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged iguanas chickens Comments (0)

Cayman's Booby Birds

Spring Break on the Sister Islands

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An Easter family visit fell through, so Nadine and I looked for flights anywhere off island. I found flights back to the States . . . for Nadine and the two kids.

It would serve as the perfect pick up for a 7 months pregnant Nadine and chance for the kids to see their best friends in Omaha. Sophie and Dominic learned of the surprise trip via a home Scavenger Hunt.

I had simple goals for my time alone: a bit of solitude, sleep past 6:30, watch a movie or two, and exercise. But in the back of my mind, I still had the itch to go somewhere, anywhere. Prices on flights to Honduras and Cuba were prohibitive, so I decided to visit the Sisters. Those sisters just happen to go by the names of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

On a previous trip to the Brac, we learned that for the same price one could fly to both islands for the same price as visiting just one.



Cayman Brac

Population 2,000

The Brac is familiar after one visit. The plane touched down on the warm, early evening tarmac. I quickly crossed the uncut grass field next to the fire station, picked up a rental car for 21 hours, bought some snacks from the same friendly Honduran lady at the supermarket, and made the short drive to the other side of the airport and back to my student's grandma's guest house.


In 21 hours, I slept. Drove to the West End and pondered why why there aren't ferries between the two Sister islands. Walked through the Parrot Reserve and not seeing a single Cayman Brac Parrot. Walked the southeast shore climbing over iron shore rock past massive blowholes.



By all means, it was spring break, and yes, I saw some boobies. Brown boobies. White boobies. And even red-footed boobies. They were all sitting perched on the edge of the bluffs. When a brown booby is born, they are actually born with a white plumage. The adult brown boobies guard their baby white boobies from predators. I wasn't much of a predator. I was just shooting photos. Staring into the horizon, one adult brown booby performed fly bys in the gentle warm updraft of the Caribbean.

Little Cayman

Population 100


The flight between the Brac and Little Cayman lasted seven minutes. At the end of the runway, our prop plane crossed the single road circling the island and pulled up to Gate #1 in Terminal A. Gate #1 is clearly painted in white paint on a single piece of plywood hanging from Terminal A. The island's only Fire Station consists the other half of the terminal.



Seat just outside of Terminal A/Fire Station, I asked the fire fighter on duty when was the last time there was a fire on Little Cayman. He looked quizzically into the air and responded with, "hmmm, maybe six months ago. Oh wait, we had one in January, so five months ago. If we're lucky, we may have five a year."

As the fireman stated it without explicitly stating it, Little Cayman is small without many pyrotechnics. Of the 100 residents, only 25 are Caymanian. Of that 25, only 1 was actually born on Little Cayman.

The elementary/primary school currently has three students with a teacher and one teaching assistant. A school district couldn't ask for a better teacher to student ratio, unless that teacher happened to be from New Mexico.

You wouldn't know Little Cayman was a world renowned dive site if judged by the infrastructure on the surface. It has some of the best wall diving in the world. A mere 150 meters from shore, the sea floor plunges four miles down to the Cayman Trough. Visualize being at the edge of a cliff. From the edge is a four mile drop off, and hey, for shits and giggles, let's explore what's down there. That is what Jackson's Point and Bloody Bay Wall represent . . . divers in water.

I dropped my bags in a room 200 yards from the the island road/airport runway/fire department, and set out on a beach cruiser to explore. Cutting north through the middle of the island, my paved road abruptly ended with only a short sandy trail ahead. It led into brush. A short trail lay in the brush and the snorkeler's jumping off point to Jackson's Point. At dusk, it was hard to imagine that this spot, without a single hotel or restaurant was only 150 meters from the best diving spot in the entire Caribbean. It must be the way people longingly remember 7 Mile Beach before it was dotted with global hotel chains, restaurants, and tourists. I could say I was there before it was built up. My snorkeling adventure would have to wait until the next morning.


At first sunlight, I struggled to adequately slap an even layer of sunscreen on my back. I then mounted my ol' trusty red beach cruiser and peddled off. The interior of Little Cayman brings a sense of isolation, yet that dissipates once you hit Jackson's Point beach. I realized that anyone living or visiting Little Cayman is not actually on terra firma. All the people were below diving boats attached to a single white buoy. The white buoys marked a specific dive spot and divers were busy scouring the sea walls. Every hour or so, dive boats moved to the next white buoy.

That leaves me. I approached the sandy shore hesitant, but reassured with the newfound backup of having a half dozen dive boats bobbing around. To give a bit of perspective, I was just a little G.I. Joe floating over the first step of a pool that then plunged into a four mile deep end pool. Passing that initial apprehension, I swam the shallow waters towards Jackson's Point. Fifty yards out I reached the first steep and deeper water. On the surface of the water, rays of sunlight shot past me piercing the aqua blue waters. From my floating perspective, I observed stingrays gliding over coral. Schools of scuba divers littered the sea floor leaving a trail nitrogen bubbles floating to the surface past my being. Soon after, the 15 foot floor slowly graded deeper. Another 100 feet out from the beach, I arrived to what I thought was the "wall". This is where the island plunges to the Caribbean sea floor. Swimming out over the wall was surreal.

With a few remaining hours before a flight back to Grand Cayman, I finished by kayaking around picturesque South Hole Sound. I glided under the midday sun in turquoise waters chasing a pair of stingrays. I approached just close enough to the reef's edge to watch the waves crash over the natural island barrier.

South Hole Sound left just enough time to ride back to my room, pack my backpack, and make the 100 meter walk to Gate 1 in Terminal A and my flight back to the big island.

Posted by TulsaTrot 19:53 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged boobies brown_boobies white_boobies red_foot_booby Comments (0)

Visiting the Bluff in the Buff

Weekend Trip to the Brac

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Moving here from the U.S., we knew we'd be around our kids a lot of the time without any significant breaks for just Nadine and I. After many gracious offers from the kind elementary school principal to watch our kids for a weekend (I don't believe weekend babysitting is in her job description), we finally took her up on her offer. Since we have been on island, our entire family has considered Angie and her husband, Kevin, to be our kids' surrogate island grandparents. They seem quite willing to fill that role.

The Cayman Islands consist of 3 total islands. They are Grand Cayman, and the 2 sister Islands, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Grand Cayman is the big city (pop. 60,000). Cayman Brac is the country town (pop. 2,000). And Little Cayman is a ghost town (pop. 150). Upon further research of our trusted Lonely Planet, neither one of the Sister Islands have much to do other than scuba dive, and neither one of us dive. We decided to go with Cayman Brac for our surprise Valentine's Day weekend.

Even though the Cayman Islands receive cruise ships and cargo ships, there yet isn't any type of ferry/boat service between Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands. Even though they lie 65 miles apart. So we took my favorite form of transport. We boarded the large plane destined for Kingston, Jamaica with a very brief stopover on Cayman Brac.


We sat next to a very nice lady from the Brac (that's what the local call Cayman Brac). She asked us our names, where we were from, had we ever been to the Brac before. She then resumed talking about her sick husband, her knitting business in Grand Cayman, and the state of affairs in the Cayman Islands. Everything was fair game. When the plane was 45 minutes late, she transformed from a nice, gentle soul into a very jaded, opinionated one. She then attacked Cayman Airways inability to leave on time, count the number of passengers onboard correctly. She was on the verge of counting all them herself. Eventually we took off and her hand sewn bag broke. Karma?

Fortunately for us, a student of mine has a grandmother from the Brac and they graciously offered to allow us to stay at their little guest house for only $25 a night. For the Cayman Islands, that is a bargain!



For the first time in a long time, Nadine and I felt like a pair of tourists. No kids. No responsibilities. Just throwing our backpacks in our little white Korean rental car, and exploring the 12 by 1 mile area of Cayman Brac. There are some similarities between to the two islands. The west end is the more populated side of both islands with the east end being sparcely populated. The one attribute that the Brac has over Grand Cayman is elevation. The highest point on Grand Cayman peaks at a lofty 75 feet, and that may be the island dump Mount Trashmore. The Brac on the other hand soars over Grand Cayman, its' highest point is 149 feet.





The Gaelic word brac means bluff, and the brac starts emerging from the sea as you head east. The bluff continues elevating until you abruptly hit the the Lighthouse on the eastern most point of the island. Drastically, 149 feet drop smack dab into the Caribbean Sea below. It's a great place for rock climbers. Yet the edge is not roped off, so if you explore too close to the edge, you may become a cliff diver. Or even a cliff cannonballer.





People on Cayman Brac are just as friendly just like the rest of the country. While driving around the Brac, folks would simply give each other the Texas wave from behind the steering wheel. This isn't the one you see in New Mexico where you solely flash the middle finger, rather this consists of raising your index finger. Now if we could just get them saying y'all.


Last tourist excursion was a visit to the Cayman Brac Parrot Reserve, the only place in the world where the Cayman Brac parrot lives. As Lonely Planet proudly explained on page 282 of their Caribbean Islands guidebook, "you should not have no trouble spotting one of the 400 remaining Cayman Brac parrots that are slowly reestablishing themselves." First of all Lonely Planet, 400? I only counted three. Secondly, no trouble whatsoever spotting them? As we walked over the raised wooden walkway over the limestone bluff, we were skilled and fortunate enough to only hear two or three of these 400 parrots. Never saw a single one.


Until next time, ¡hasta pronto!



Posted by TulsaTrot 15:27 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged cayman_islands grand_cayman cayman_brac Comments (5)

Mount Trashmore

The Highest Point on Grand Cayman Spontaneously Combusting for Your Viewing Pleasure

semi-overcast 85 °F
View 2014 on TulsaTrot's travel map.


Welcome to Grand Cayman

Snow days.

Teachers and students alike look forward to them. Pray for them at times. Never did I count on having an unexpected day off from school in the Cayman Islands.

Days off from school present themselves in different manners around the world. Snow days could be a couple feet of snow overnight in Canada earns you half a day off from school. A paro (strike) in Perú could easily get you a couple of days off. Any day of the week in France, goat farmers are angry about working 3 days a week, no school for a week.

Up to this point, I've only experienced snow days and paros. Peruvian paros consisted of strikers blockading major thoroughfares and burning a couple tires and throwing rocks at any cars that attempted to pass by. What we experienced on Grand Cayman needed a few more tires that that.


Wednesday morning during school, students noticed smoke rising from our next door neighbor's place, the island landfill. The island dump is recognized by accurate moniker, Mouth Trashmore. Mount Trashmore also happens to be the highest point on the very flat Grand Cayman. One of the first things you can see from the many cruise ships that dock here on any given day. You can easily smell it on the road before you see it. Kind of reminds you of the state of New Mexico.

Mount Trashmore had spontaneously combusted for the second time in as many months sending grayish blue smoke billowing past our school. Fortunately, the winds on Wednesday were headed west, away from the school and towards the five cruise ships docked in the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean.

Thursday morning, I headed up to school early to play basketball. Riding to school, it was obvious that the smoke was thicker and the wind had changed direction from a westerly direction to northerly one, directly over campus. A night of sporadic rainfall did not halt the surge of smoke. Looking at the sunrise made me imagine what it would be like to live in any major city in China. The sky was a burnt orange and the sun was a dull oval of light in the sky.

Just as we finished basketball, Joseph poked his head into the gym and muttered a few words that I thought I would never hear on island, "No school today! It's a smoke day."


Some equipment at the landfill hasn't worked for quite awhile

I thought to myself, "Did I hear that correctly? No school today, because of the smoke? Really?" Upon confirmation, school had been cancelled. It was time to make grandiose plans, and not live up to them.

Friday morning, the kids, Nadine, and myself were ready for school, grabbing the keys, and literally heading out the door, when we received a text stating that school had been cancelled once again because of another morning of thick smoke cresting over the school. What were the chances?


The view from Seven Mile Beach

Actually, the dump is a point of contention on island right now. The landfill has been mismanaged and their equipment doesn't work properly or at all. Recycling doesn't exist. Dart Enterprises has offered to clean the landfill in exchange for the land. There are many factors involved and a committee of 20 will attempt to resolve this problem. The Cayman Islands depend on tourism, so for their sake, they should probably come up with a manageable solution.


This was the source of the first fire five days before Christmas

Posted by TulsaTrot 18:33 Archived in Cayman Islands Tagged school cayman_islands grand_cayman mount_trashmore Comments (0)

Crossing Oceans

We got around in 2013

sunny 80 °F
View 2013 on TulsaTrot's travel map.

We tend to travel a bit. 2013 was a bit different. We traveled a lot.

It was one of the more prolific years of travel since 2006-2007.

San Francisco

February consisted of a quick trip to San Francisco with hopes of an international teaching position, we got one in the Caribbean. We also scored some hard to find Pliny the Elder.


Nadine got her skiing and friend fix in Oregon in late winter.

London, England and Spain

I led over 20 students across the Atlantic to London, England and Barcelona, Valencia, and Godella for a week of Spanish language and cultural immersion.




I spent time in Hotlanta for IB school training.


Our first international vacation as a family of four introduced all to Beautiful Belize.


Papua New Guinea and Australia

Dr. Pepper and myself headed over to the other side of the world to visit our good buddy Scuba Steve as he volunteered in Papua New Guinea. PNG was a great trip that renewed the craziness and unexpected of passing outside your home borders. I have to say that PNG is travel back in time in many ways. Fortunately we were able to meet up with our friends the Bennetts in Melbourne on our return flight to the States through Australia.



Cayman Islands

In August, we finally made the move to the Cayman Islands where we work and attend the Cayman International School.




To finish the year, we returned to spend Christmas on American soil.

Here are a few stats from the year.

16 total blog entries
242,902 visits to the blog since 2006
7 countries visited
2 new countries visited - England and Papua New Guinea
53,000 miles traveled
1st international flight in business class

The first person that can successfully guess the first country (other than the United States and Cayman Islands) that I will visit in 2014, I will send you a postcard from the Caribbean. Hint: It is Spanish speaking.

We made it to the end of another blog. It's been a great year and here's to another great and eventful 2014 for all. If you find yourself in the Cayman Islands, we'll show you where the best beach is located.

Posted by TulsaTrot 19:36 Archived in USA Tagged england australia spain belize cayman_islands london_england papua_new_guinea around_the_world_travel dr_pepper Comments (2)

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