The Old and the New Meet on Grand Cayman

Getting in touch with some Caymanian history — making a rope from Silver Thatch


Checking out Camana Bay – downright futuristic in design, from breezeways that maximize the flow of air to make this waterside oasis comfortable for visitors on the hottest days to a fountain designed by the folks who brought you Bellagio’s fountain in Vegas, a fountain that’s engineered so that on windy days those selfsame guests don’t get soaked – we find a bit of the old Caymanian culture where we’d least expect it.

One attraction of Camana Bay on Grand Cayman: a weekly farmers’ market.


Hard by the weekly farmers’ market, near the bottom of an observation post that gives you an eagle’s-eye view of Grand Cayman, we meet locals Deal Ebanks and Marlena Anglan, appearing courtesy of the Cayman Islands Traditional Arts Council.

We’re struck by the image of what looks at first like some instrument of medieval torture but turns out, in fact, to be a device for turning silver thatch (the national tree of the Cayman Islands – learned that a couple of days ago at the excellent Queen Elizabeth II Royal Botanic Park) into rope, braiding and turning and tightening all at the same time.

A visit to Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park offers both a great afternoon and a lesson in some island flora — like Silver Thatch, their national tree.


Ten minutes later we’ve gotten a lesson in basket-making, rope-turning and how hard it was to do the simplest things back in the day. Net result:  a piece of braided rope to call my own, cramps in both hands (did I mention it was hard?) and, most important, a taste of Cayman culture that we frankly found elusive at times.

Until now – when the old meets the new on Grand Cayman.


2 Responses

  1. Kim North

    Following your descriptive writing and enjoying the photos taken, invites all of us to discover more about the people, customs and scenic places on the Cayman Islands. It seems like a place to relax and truly unplug from the world for a while.

    Kim North

  2. Jo

    Ahhh… the sunshine. A nice read – thanks – and some good ideas to escape the Canadian winter!