“Cayman Kind” Begets Kindness

by Anne Evans

Roughly a year and a half before setting foot on Grand Cayman for the first time, I began reading and learning about The Cayman Islands. I soon became familiar with the phrase “Cayman Kind”.

As soon as we arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it is not just a phrase, it is a way of life here. Caymanian kindness and empathy were immediately apparent to me, and a day does not go by that I do not observe random acts of Cayman kindness. Alas, such acts were rare to experience in my former residences in the US. Let me illustrate with a few of the countless examples of Cayman Kind that I have experienced …

I have been a daily morning jogger for the past 50 years. My jogging experiences have varied depending on where I was living, but my comments here focus on how strangers interact with strangers on this Island. From Day 1 on Grand Cayman, my jogging involved a deep breath before encountering another human so I could smile and exclaim a cheerful “Good Morning” – which is always returned. The vast majority are Caymanians heading to work – on foot, by bicycle. The latter often do not just return my greeting, they offer me a much appreciated “thumbs up” that encourages me to keep jogging (I am now age 66). And I get friendly “beeps” from the local buses that have come to recognize me.

For the first year of our new life on Grand Cayman, we could not afford a car. We walked a lot and took buses, or I would take a taxi home after purchasing groceries. I would ask the grocery or adjacent liquor store to call me a taxi after making my purchases, and then I’d wait outside the store. Sometimes it was a 5-minute wait … sometimes it was not. The first week after Rick and I arrived on this island, the liquor store employee saw that I was waiting and came out to inquire if I was okay. I explained about the taxi. A bit later, the employee came out again, and said that her manager said she should drive me home! Rerun experiences: complete strangers understanding that I was at the mercy of taxis would offer & provide me with rides home given their empathy with my situation.

On the Islands, Locals prioritize human interactions and the beauty of their physical surroundings. Sure, everyone owns a cell phone, however the locals are not wedded to their phones. Just go to a locals’ restaurant and what you observe are people talking to people – their dining companions, the waitstaff – and admiring the pleasure of what Mother Earth has surrounded them with. Cell phones are nonexistent.

Exception: the resorts catering to Americans. Several months ago, Rick and I walked to the Marriott Resort on West Bay Road on the 7-Mile Beach Corridor, to enjoy a patio lunch literally on the edge of the Caribbean Sea. It was an absolutely gorgeous day.  We were seated next to an American family of 5. Each was focused on their cell phones. No interactions with each other; no appreciation of the beauty of their surroundings. So sad, given that they were likely spending thousands of $$$ a day to stay in this location.

The Most Caring Medical Care in the World?

Medical care on the Islands is exceptional. After we arrived on the Island and established our local insurance, I gradually enlisted the care of a Dentist, a General Care Physician, an Optometrist, a Urology Specialist, an Ear Nose Throat Specialist and an Emergency Care Clinic/Physician. The level of care, compassion, promptness, personal attention and kindness provided by these Island Medical Care Providers is exceptional – nothing like I ever experienced in the US. They respond to emails, phone calls and even provide personal cell phone numbers. I make an effort to tactfully explain how much more efficient and kinder my Medical Care Experiences are on Grand Cayman than what I have experienced in the US. The medical care providers are always grateful for my positive comments – however they do not seem to grasp how differently medical care is managed in the US and why I am so incredibly grateful for their services.

Oops, and then there is the unexpected Medical Emergency. It was late May on a Friday afternoon, and I had a medical melt down. A serious infection of my middle ear suddenly and seemingly exploded in my head. Severe pain, uncontrollable shaking and chills. Rick phoned my ENT MDs personal cell phone (that he had provided to me). He told us which hospital to go to and that he would meet us there. Did I mention that we did not have a car? … so, our neighbor dropped everything and drove us through rush hour traffic to the hospital, an hour’s drive away. There was my MD waiting for me – and he was there to check on me the next day Saturday and the next day Sunday and every day of my following 10-day stay. There was the Anesthesiologist who placed my PPCL – and who 2 weeks later when I returned for an outpatient recheck, saw me in the hospital cafeteria, greeted me and asked how I was doing.

After my release from the hospital and return to my routine, strangers would stop me and inquire why they had not seen me jogging. The retail business that I frequented asked me why I had disappeared, and my neighbors in our community asked me the same. Wow,  these are not really people close to me, however they clearly recognize me and as a part of this community, care about me.

And then today, as Rick and I were leaving Sunday Mass, a young man with a beautiful smile, greeted me by name and asked how I was doing. Without grasping who he was right away, I smiled and said I was fine and I asked in return how he was doing.  He said fine and that he was still working at Total Health (that is when I recognized that he was one of the nurses who treated me at the out-patient facility I relied on after I was discharged from the Hospital).

How many ways can I reiterate the truth and the prevalence of “Cayman Kind”? Clearly, Kindness begets Kindness. Welcome tourists (and future residents) to these Islands, become one of us and take the virtue of Cayman Kind home with you to share.

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


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