Learning to Drive on Grand Cayman (on the Left!)

Exciting at 16 — Terrifying at 66

by Anne Evans

I grew up in California in the US and enjoyed an interesting relationship with cars. I named every car I owned — because I learned long ago that if you name your car, it will live longer.

The first car that I developed a relationship with at age 16 was my older brother’s car, a 1957 T Bird that either he or my parents named “Norton.” (The 1956 models with the “porthole windows” are the coveted vintage.) While my brother was away at college in England, I was allowed to drive Norton. How many times did he stall in the Northern California equivalent of cold weather when I was trying to drive myself to high school?

My very own first car was “Lemon Drop” – a used Honda Civic that I purchased with my savings just before I started Veterinary School. (Mom was traveling when I made the purchase, and upon her return, she explained to me that I would need to purchase auto Insurance as well. Oh  . . .)  “Lemon Drop” was followed by “Rose Bud”, another beloved Honda Civic that stayed with me into the 1990s.

Then, there was my dream car, “Sterling,” a snazzy, brand new, Sterling Grey BMZ Z3 that was my companion from 2001 to 2018. It was a tearful goodbye in Utah in 2018 to my sexy little sportscar, however Rick and I really needed to downsize to owning only one car. His 2014 BMW 323D sedan, which I named Ezzie (it was Esmeralda blue), isn’t as sexy, but it is more practical.

My husband Rick is a far better driver than me. When we left our home in St George, Utah to drive cross-country to our temporary residence in Florida on our way to Grand Cayman, Smudge-the-cat and I were more than happy to have Rick drive.

I was okay with driving when we were on the west coast of Florida in the Venice region. However, that totally changed when we transitioned to the Miami area on January 1, 2022, while we awaited our final transition to Grand Cayman (an unanticipated delay of four months!). Rick did all the driving – because drivers in Miami are insensitive to pedestrians, aggressive towards other drivers, and totally reckless.

Driving on Grand Cayman — a British Territory

When we arrived on Grand Cayman on May 2, 2022, it did not take long for us to realize we would not be driving ourselves (on the “wrong side of the road”) anytime soon because we could not afford a car. Also, the Cayman Islands are British territories – so if we were to drive, we would have to learn how to drive on the left.

That said, we did obtain our Cayman Island Drivers’ Licenses just in the nick of time. Seems that if one fails to take and pass the written test within 6 months of arriving here, then in addition to the written test, one must also take a driving test! We took and passed our written tests within 10 days of hitting that critical 6-month mark.

A year later (May, 2023), having survived life on the Island by walking and relying on Public Transportation, unforeseen circumstances (i.e., a medical emergency that hospitalized me for 10 days) mandated that we lease a car … introducing Blue Bunny II.

Leased hybrid on Grand Cayman Island

Blue Bunny I was our Golf Cart when we lived in St. George, Utah.  

Secondhand refurbished golf court in St. George Utah

We both admit, it is so nice to have “a set of wheels” again, so we can go off on adventures to the more remote areas of Grand Cayman Island.

Rick adapted quickly to driving. I continue to learn. It’s been over 1 ½ years since I have driven on the Right Side of the Road — and now I have to learn additionally to drive on the Left Side of the Road … and then there are those darn Rotaries (or roundabouts)! They are everywhere and the majority have the added challenge of being double laned. (Arrggh! Which lane do I go into, inner or outer?)

I am getting the hang of it – and there is a lot of incentive for me to learn to drive here and regain my independence. I want to be able to drive myself to the golf course if I want to resume golfing (not a big deal as it is safely close by, but I am targeting a first try next week).

The bigger challenge is I need to be able to drive myself to the riding stable if I want to resume dressage lessons. The rotaries, the spaghetti roads, and the traffic in Georgetown are all challenges I have yet to overcome. The bus system will simply not accommodate this particular need: would you want to sit next to me on a bus after I have been on a horse for an hour?

What I have on my side is the vast majority of drivers on this Island practice “Cayman Kindness”. It is not unusual for a driver with the right of way to yield to another driver struggling to advance — particularly when it is clear that their kindly gesture will expedite the flow of traffic.

The blaring and inconsiderate extended horn blasts reminiscent of irritated drivers in Miami are not to be heard on these Islands. And, pedestrians are always granted the right of way even when not in a crossing zone. Ah, that sounds more like paradise.

My Take-Aways:

As you age, embrace the challenges. Lead by example and do your best to always put kindness and consideration of others first.

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


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *