My brother and his family visited the Cayman Islands for the first time last March, staying with us for 10 days.
When they returned to their Caledonia, Ontario, hometown, my nine-year-old niece, Alexis Poirier, wrote a speech for her class about Cayman.
She won first place in her class of 24, then won again with the same speech in the Junior Division of the Royal Canadian Legion public-speaking contest
Alexis shared her achievement and her speech with us, inspiring me to reflect on our beautiful island and the damage from Hurricane Ivan.
The speech also instilled hope for all the hard work people are doing, returning the island to its pre-Ivan condition.
I would like to share the speech: Cayman through the eyes of a nine-year-old girl.
Speech by Alexis Poirier to the Junior Division of the Royal Canadian Legion (with apologies for light editing for purposes of space)
Have you ever been to an island where the temperature is 100 degrees? Where strange fish are swimming all around you? Where everywhere you look, you see coconuts?
Grand Cayman is a very small island. It has three beaches: Seven Mile Beach, Starfish Point and Rum Point.
Seven Mile Beach is right on the Caribbean sea, so you can go snorkelling and see some amazing underwater creatures. You might see Caribbean lobsters in their underwater caves, families of squid and Parrot Fish that crunch on coral and rock so loudly that you can hear them from miles away.
The Parrot Fish are brightly coloured and very beautiful. Their mouth is the shape of a parrot’s beak.
Starfish Point is a very small beach. You can walk a metre then fall into the sea. The water is so clear that when you walk on its edge, all you see are stars … No, not stars in the sky, but fish – starfish. They are neat and a bit prickly.
Rum Point is a little smaller than Seven Mile Beach, but tons of fun. You can buy ice cream, play volleyball, see iguanas and have your hair braided.
But the best part is playing in the sand or water with a beach ball. The water is so salty that you float without even trying.
My aunt and uncle are so lucky because they live in Grand Cayman in a beautiful house with a great pool. They took me everywhere when I visited.
My favourite place is the Turtle Farm, where they have a lot of turtles in different pools. You’re even allowed to pick them up. My dad picked one up and it tried to fly away: It flapped its flippers so hard and fast that it smacked my dad in the side.
After that, we went across the street and saw tiny baby turtles. Wait – did I say tiny? It was really the opposite – they were about the size of my teacher’s desk, and they weighed up to 500lbs. That’s 10 of me.
The next day, we went swimming with stingrays.
Yes, you heard me correctly: We actually went swimming with stingrays. We took a long boat ride to where the water is really deep, finally coming to a sand bar. Over the edge of the boat, I saw big black smudges in the water. They started to move and I got very nervous.
My dad was really helpful – he pushed me right into the water. I was scared at first, but my uncle is a scuba diver, and helped me realise there was nothing to be afraid of.
My dad and mom were a bit nervous, although my brother wasn’t scared or nervous at all … he was back on the boat when I last saw him because he was so scared.
My aunt said that the stingrays would only harm you if you tried to hurt them. So when you walked, you had to shuffle your feet so you wouldn’t step on their stingers – that’s when you’d be sorry.
The stingrays are like vacuum cleaners. If you hold a piece of squid, they swim right up to you and suck it out of your hand.
The stingrays are huge – they come so close they practically lay on you like a blanket. Their skin is so soft, it feels like velvet.
After that, my aunt and uncle took us for a drive. On one side of the road was a coconut stand and on the other was the Blow Holes.
We went to the coconut stand first. The man used a huge knife to chop off the top of the coconut, then he put a straw in it. I sat down in a hammock and drank the coconut milk.
Then he chopped up the coconut meat and served it with brown sugar on top. It was delicious.
After our snack, we visited the Blow Holes., which are underwater caves. When the water comes rushing to the shore, its only way out is the top, so the water rushes through the hole and flies out the top and into the air about 30 feet.
We all got soaked, but we didn’t mind because – don’t forget – it was 100 degrees.
We loved our trip to the Cayman Islands. My aunt and uncle spoiled us. After we returned home, we got an email from my aunt: ‘It’s a good thing you saw the Cayman Islands when you did because we just had a hurricane and not a single palm tree is left on the island.’
She said that they were working hard to fix things and make it a beautiful place again. I sure hope they work extra hard because it is the most beautiful island I ever saw.