By Eloise Blondiau Grand Cayman looks exactly like the postcards: white sand, a calm ocean and a diamond sun set in an azure sky. The hot, salty air hits you as soon as you step out of the plane and onto the steps leading down to the runway. I think if I had only been here once, it would be easy to dismiss the island as just that: a pretty picture on a postcard. But having spent almost every summer there---though I've lived in big, grey London all my life---Cayman looks a lot like home.
Before I could walk I used to climb up my Godfather’s globular belly as he reclined on the balcony overlooking the ocean. Not long after, I chipped my front tooth on edge the bath in his apartment and had to have it removed, leaving me with a comical smile until it grew in eight years later. I accidentally spilled most of my first beer in the jacuzzi with my older sister and her cool friends. In Cayman, I had my first kiss; first date---coincidentally still the only date where I've been picked up on a waverunner. I had my first holiday with a boyfriend here, too.
I learned how to snorkel in Cayman. My twin brother and I used to race into the ocean clumsily in our fins and headgear, smashing through the soft, glassy turquoise. We would splash gracelessly to the nearby reef to explore, searching for great whites. Although we did once come face to face with a barracuda, and the odd lobster, we never did find those sharks. If we were lucky, our parents took us to Stingray City, where schools of stingrays glide over sandbanks in open water. You can wade in the shallow water, their silky white underbellies tickling as they brush past. You can even feed the rays from an outstretched fist and watch them suck out the squid with an abrupt slurp. Although these stingrays are generally harmless unless threatened (read: trodden on), doing this still makes me feel like the fearless adventurer I longed to be as a child.
Last summer may have been one of my last in Cayman. My Godfather passed away a few years ago, leaving his huge, worn armchair empty beside the seaside view. I like to fill this vacancy by sitting there myself; thinking about him watching the news in his flip-flops and his swimming shorts. We miss him and remember him always, recalling the many stories he told us and all the wisdom learned from him as often as we can. My poor Godmother misses him the most. Now she lives alone in that beautiful apartment in the sunshine, with no one else to care for, to chatter to, to scold, to cook dinner for. She won't want to live alone there forever, and soon we will all have to leave Cayman behind.
On a rare sunny day in England, I can close my eyes and, concentrating very hard on the sun above me, transport myself to Seven Mile Beach. What is beyond simulation in London, however, is my Cayman sunset.
There is no better way to end the day than by sitting before the great ocean and all the life within it. The sun smoulders orange, until it disappears over the horizon and is swallowed by the cool sea.