It’s hard to believe that Hurricane Ivan happened almost two years ago and we’re still rebuilding some of our structures and lives.
But we are.
And the latest rebirth was revealed to the public Monday evening when the Pedro St. James Historic Site was re-opened.
The road back to recovery has been long and arduous.
Ivan left Pedro in a major mess. It took $1.3 million to get it back in shape.
But from the looks of the improved Pedro site, it was money well spent.
Getting the Pedro Castle site rebuilt was extremely important for many reasons.
Tourism Minister Charles Clifford has announced a Go East initiative that he hopes will drive tourism to the eastern districts.
Having Pedro Castle re-opened gives our visitors a prime reason for heading to the east.
The castle site does much for tourism.
And it does much for the people of the Cayman Islands.
Preserving Pedro means we are preserving our past.
It is at Pedro that we hear about the hardships of early settlers, the constant struggle with nature, the lives of the slaves who lived here, and the Caymanians who met there in 1831 to introduce democracy to the Cayman Islands.
It was from the Palladian staircase of Pedro Castle that a Proclamation of Emancipation abolishing slavery was read in 1835. In the first floor dining room, the William Eden family entertained, judges held court, and Caymanians took the decision to form an elected legislature.
While Hurricane Ivan did its damage to the grand old house, it also left behind the wood and stone that inspired Tourism Attractions Board Chief Gilbert Connolly.
When Mr. Connolly saw the debris left by the storm, he didn’t see rubbish; he saw creativity and a way to memorialize the strength and courage of the Caymanian people.
The monument sits near the ironshore at the edge of the site. There, 12 rocks, which washed ashore during the storm, represent the date in September when the hurricane hit.
The nine seats in the monument symbolize the month Ivan struck. The seats are made from a large tamarind tree blown down in the storm.
The four tables, also made from the tamarind tree, represent the year of the storm.
The tree itself is believed to have been more than 100 years old.
Those who visited Pedro Castle before Hurricane Ivan should make a trek to the historic site once again.
Pedro has been restored to her grandeur and the site has been enhanced to make your visit all the more memorable.
We’re happy to see an old mainstay like Pedro Castle back up and running.
It’s another testament to Cayman and her people and our resolve to overcome tragedy.
And it’s another sign that we are going to recover and be even better than we were before the storm.