Cayman Islands Time: “No Problem”

by Anne Evans

For the period prior to our arrival on Grand Cayman, we were transients in Florida. Our stay there was supposed to last only 4 months, however it stretched to 12 as we awaited completion of our new home.

During that time, I met a US Citizen who lived and worked on Grand Cayman in the 1970s. He told me life on the Island was like living in the US two decades prior – much slower paced and laid back.

He offered as an example that one needed to learn what days grocery store “staples” would arrive at port and subsequently be stocked as you couldn’t expect grocery stores to always be fully stocked. Here in 2024, the same principal still applies. Living on “Cayman Island Time” is like living in the US two (or more) decades prior – much slower paced and laid back. And (to quote Martha Stewart), “It’s a good thing!”

On Grand Cayman it’s Always “No Problem”

Need something done? The Islanders’ answer is always “No Problem” said with absolute sincerity. It’s just that it’s followed with the unspoken caveat “however, it is going to take some time . . .”  The latter is unspoken as residents already are aware of that.

Of course, any service here will take time! This is an Island with limited resources. Nearly everything has to be imported – from construction materials to food. Much of the labor force comes from off-Island and is in limited supply. This comparatively small Island is not self-sustainable.

Our introduction to “Cayman Island Time” came shortly after we moved into our new home – a 3-bedroom condo. As gorgeous as it was, it needed considerable additional construction and redesign. It was clearly built to be a vacation home rather than a year-round residence. There was minimal storage and wardrobe space; the kitchen was not designed for anyone who cooked (or baked!) regularly, the roof top terrace had not been finished with an outdoor kitchen, grill, or cabinetry. So much had to be done!

How fortunate were we! We were introduced to Ritchie, a General Contractor who always greets us with a smile and words of appreciation for life on Grand Cayman. And he is the champion of the phrase “No Problem” always said with an honest smile in response to any request! His right-hand man, Paul, does the same, adding frequently “no request too big or too small.” Derick, who designed and built all the additional cabinetry, required months to complete it – and the result was astounding; better than I could have imagined. We have been in this condo now over 18 months. Our projects are dwindling. Indeed, it’s been “No Problem” for us to wait as our requests were gradually fulfilled with attention to detail and accompanied by kindness.

On Grand Cayman Sunday is Indeed a “Time of Rest”

Perhaps the biggest adjustment for American Tourists arriving on Grand Cayman for the first time are Sundays and Holidays. Attributable to the Island’s Christian traditions, retail stores (including most Grocery Stores) are closed in accordance with the Sunday Trading Act (2023 Revision), with few exceptions (e.g. retail businesses primarily selling food & beverages that are less than 4000 sq feet; also, restaurants remain open). (Reference: “Holy Business? Cayman Grocery Stores Normalizing Sunday Hours” Elizabeth Charles, Oct 13, 2023, Cayman Compass).

The streets are quiet with very little traffic. It’s incredibly peaceful. Residents embrace taking a day off to spend relaxing with family and friends. It is at best rude to interrupt a service provider with a request on a Sunday or Holiday – or even contact to verify an appointment scheduled for the week ahead.

There is an ongoing debate whether to loosen these restrictions on hours of operation. Some view expanding business hours as a necessary convenience in an increasingly busy world or an accommodation necessary to promote tourism. I don’t agree. It is not difficult to plan one’s shopping for some time Monday to Saturday. Tourists who come to visit our Island need to show appreciation for local culture.

I do admit that Holidays can take some planning. For instance, this past Holiday Season, Christmas & New Year’s Eve fell on a Sunday, so most businesses were closed, as it was on Christmas & New Year’s Day (Monday). Boxing Day is observed here (it fell on Tuesday) so there were restricted “Holiday Hours” (9am-6pm). However, all it took was some personal planning – so that workers in the retail industry could enjoy a Holiday as well as other residents and visitors.

Learning the Art of Patience

As an adult in America, I was conditioned that it was essential to work 24/7, and I became quite good at it! Irrespective of my profession or employer, I always worked after hours and weekends – and I was always in a rush. I never took vacations, that is, until I had the good fortune to meet my dear husband, Rick, when we were in our late 30s.

Learning to adapt to Cayman Island Time has taught me (this once terribly impatient person) the Art of Patience. It has made me a more thoughtful and kinder person. I am rarely in a hurry; I don’t mind standing in line and 90% of the time, I wear a smile. In conclusion, to live here, you must embrace Cayman Island Time – and visitors to our kind Island must do the same.

If ai cannot solve a problem by baking a cookie, I cannot deal with it

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