Did expats make decisions?

I finally decided I need to respond to what is being said about Caymanians resenting expats and blaming the expats for the changes on the island.

First of all, I have never felt resented by Caymanians. My husband and I have been coming to this island for almost 20 years. We have always felt accepted by all of the Caymanians we have met. Many of them have become close friends today. We have a “family” here. We are totally immersed in the culture.

Secondly, I don’t believe it’s the expats who are passing the laws that are changing the island. The expats may be coming to Cayman and working on the projects, but they are not passing the laws that allow new projects to be built. We have seen many changes on this island in the last 20 years – many of them not to our liking.

The first time we came here, we stayed at the Cayman Islander. In the next years we stayed at Jon & Millie’s B&B, Enterprise B&B, Fountain Apartments, and Ambassador’s Inn. What has happened to all of these family owned places? They have either closed or become long-term.

By staying in these small family-run places, we became totally involved in the culture of the island and have made friends that we see to this day.

We remember when the Hyatt bought Rum Point and totally changed the character of the original Rum Point. I felt so bad I took pictures of the modern Rum Point to take home to show our son who wasn’t with us on that trip. Rum Point was no longer the same. Did expats allow this to happen? Is this what the tourist wanted? It certainly wasn’t what we wanted.

The Kaibo was a little hamburger stand, also with a lot of character. The stand was torn down to build an updated Kaibo for the tourists. Did the tourists and expats make this decision? The pink and blue plazas weren’t there when we first started coming. We shopped at Foster’s, which was in the J. Michael building in front of the Strand. Sure, it’s great to have modern grocery stores and shops, but in the name of progress, this has led to bigger and better ideas. It isn’t the expats that made these decisions.

My husband and I were never asked our opinion as to whether the island should have primarily luxury accommodations for the tourists. We always heard no building would ever be built higher than a palm tree. What happened? Did the tourists and the expats pass legislation to build the Ritz?

Now we read that luxury condos will be built in place of the Seaview. Who will buy these luxury condos? The average Caymanian? Or, are we only trying to attract the rich and famous? Who passed legislation to build Camana Bay? The expats? I hardly think so.

My husband and I, who have enjoyed this island since our initial visit, are not even welcome to stay here for more than a very short time because we are not in a financial bracket to buy residency. We have never asked to vote. It doesn’t matter that we’ve been involved in the community since our first visit. It makes no difference that we own property here. Apparently there’s someone in Cayman that resents us, but we haven’t met that person yet.

In my opinion, the situation occurring in Cayman at this time is very sad. One has to wonder what will be the end result.

Karen Oldenburger

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