Day3: We started off with a visit to the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, and a tour of the blue iguana habitat with Warden Alberto Estevanovich of the Blue Iguana Recovery Program.
Without venturing too far into the park we spotted our first free-roaming blue iguana (later we learned his name is "Kinky" for the shape of his tail). Kinky was the largest of all the iguana we saw the whole week. He was very unimpressed with our presence and hardly moved except to keep an eye on us. The funny thing is that I walked right past him without even noticing and Esther thought he was a statue. It wasn't until Jacki and Phil pointed him out that we realized he was there.
There were several types of plants at the park, very few of which I recognized (hello, bird of paradise) and hardly any that I remembered the names of... with a couple of exceptions, below:
Walking through the park was nice (and Alabama in August hot and humid) but it would be hard to beat the blue iguanas. Alberto was entertaining and informative during the tour, but he really won me over with the way he interacted with the animals.
|It's hard to tell from the picture, but this blue is leaning into Alberto's hand as he pats on it|
Here's the cool thing about iguanas and why they are important to the ecology of Cayman: iguanas eat fruits such as mango, guava and papaya mostly whole. In tests performed by the project mango seeds that passed through the digestive tract of the iguanas and germinated produced fruit in three years- half the time of any mango seeds planted by man.
|Guava vs iguana|
Ah, the manchineel. One of the most poisonous trees in the world. Contact with any part of the tree can result in painful blisters. Rain water that runs off the leaves and lands on you will have the same effect. It's like all the poison oak and ivy in the state of Alabama rolled into one tree. It's Spanish name is "little apple of death". So naturally...
...Esther attempts to reconcile the gap between the man-apes and the manchineel.
I suggested that Esther should stand under a safer tree...
I saw only two snakes the whole trip and both were on the same day. One was zipping past an iguana and this one was in the sun soaking up some rays. Both were terrified of us.
Continuing east then following the edge of the island north and back west, we grabbed lunch at Rum Point.
Jacki and Phil were nice enough to hang out while Esther and I swam around the point.
Recently a rogue dolphin has been sighted in the area. He was kicked out of his pod and has been known to bite and, ahem, act aggressively romantic towards divers and swimmers. This is one of the signs we saw warning people to avoid the dolphin that locals have named "Stinky".
This is the Cayman Shoe Tree. It has it's own Facebook page. Along South Church Street near South Sound, the tree was started by a couple from British Columbia in the wake of Hurricane Ivan and has kind of grown into a monument of sorts to efforts to keep Cayman's beaches clean of liter.
We took one more swim in the waters of Smith Cove before calling it a day.
All the pictures from this fine day are right here.