grand cayman 2018

  Leaving  Stingray City .

Leaving Stingray City.

When my sister and I were growing up, every summer we had a family vacation.  My father, a petroleum engineer, worked incredibly long hours, and traveled a lot for his work -- there were several stretches of time where I remember him leaving before we woke up, and returning home just in time to kiss us goodnight.  But summer vacations were different.  Of course, this was before the time of email, but nonetheless, he would tell his assistant that he was not to be contacted unless someone died or something was on fire, and then off we'd go, with my dad committing to pay all of his attention to our family.  Some vacations were relatively inexpensive -- a week in nearby Tobago, when we were living in Trinidad; or a road trip if we were living in the States -- but I also remember a trip to Disney World when we were very young, and one pretty epic trip to Europe when I was about 14.  It was incredibly important to my parents that we see and learn about the world, and that we do so as a family.

This is a value I've definitely brought to my own family.  I'm not that into expensive clothing or jewelry or cars -- I currently drive a 13-year-old car with a severely cracked dashboard, with no plans on upgrading any year soon -- but I admit, I'll save and spend on travel.  In fact, we have an unofficial goal that by the time Alex goes to college, she has been to as many different countries as her age (we're on track -- but honestly, when you live near the Caribbean, it's a relatively easier goal to make happen than if we lived, say, in Ohio).  So when summer came this year and we hadn't made any vacation plans (we've been consumed by house-building), I decided that we needed to take a quick trip somewhere, preferably a short flight away.

After a quick conversation, we settled on Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.  Alex had never been (a new stamp in her passport!), and as it happens, Cayman is where Marcus and I took our first trip together, before we got married.  Since this year feels like a new beginning for all of us (Alex starts high school in the fall, fingers crossed we'll be back in our home and starting over again before Thanksgiving), it felt somewhat poignant to return to Cayman as a family.

It was a lovely trip, although it has changed a lot since Marcus and I were last there.  Still, I stayed completely off of Facebook and email (only updating a couple of times on Instagram), and we got a solid dose of concentrated family time, sunshine, ocean air, and what a friend calls "Vitamin Sea."

It was good to be back in the Caribbean -- because even when I'm not in Trinidad, all the islands feel like a piece of home.  Here's what it looked like.

  Seven Mile Beach.

Seven Mile Beach.

  Stingray City.  The dark shadow you see in the water is a female stingray.

Stingray City.  The dark shadow you see in the water is a female stingray.

  Marcus making a new friend at  Starfish Point .

Marcus making a new friend at Starfish Point.

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  The  Cayman Islands National Museum .  You can visit the entire museum in less than an hour, including the 20-minute educational introductory video.  Absolutely charming, absolutely worth the visit.

The Cayman Islands National Museum.  You can visit the entire museum in less than an hour, including the 20-minute educational introductory video.  Absolutely charming, absolutely worth the visit.

  View from our lunchtime stop near  Bodden Town .  If you're going to see any of the real Cayman, you'll need to leave your resort on Seven Mile Beach.  Unspoiled, simple Cayman is the best Cayman.

View from our lunchtime stop near Bodden Town.  If you're going to see any of the real Cayman, you'll need to leave your resort on Seven Mile Beach.  Unspoiled, simple Cayman is the best Cayman.

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