Cayman’s royal visitor and his entourage covered more miles than the average tourist when they visited Grand Cayman’s eastern districts on Sunday, following their bus travels with a boat ride to sites in North Sound.
Affectionately referred o as Prince Edward, but more properly known as the Earl of Wessex, he was continuing his focus on young people, the environment and Cayman’s recovery from Hurricane Ivan.
From the Governor’s residence, the party travelled along the south coast to Bodden Town, an area the Earl had visited two months after the devastation of Ivan in September 2004. The bus did not stop, but did detour for a look at Manse Road, where he had walked and talked with residents during his previous visit.
Then it was on through Breakers to East End. Fellow travellers included the Governor Mr. Stuart Jack and Mrs. Jack; Director of the Department of Environment Gina Ebanks-Petrie; National Trust General Manager Frank Roulstone; Sharon Banfield, Deputy Director for Product Development in the Department of Tourism.
At Welcome Way, across from Pirates Cove Bar, he was greeted by district MLA Arden McLean, who is also Minister for Communication, Works and Infrastructure.
Mr. McLean introduced him to a small group that included Mrs. Susan Olde, district resident and benefactress, and Rev. Graeme Thompson, director of the Cayman-based charity IAMCO.
Umbrellas in hand to shield them from rain, party members proceeded down Welcome Way, where the prince stopped to talk with onlookers and then visited the home of Mrs. Lilly Ann Connor, which had to be rebuilt after Ivan.
Mrs. Connor’s daughter Blondell said later that the Prince admired the fresh flowers and said the house was beautiful. After learning that Miss Lilly was 92, he allowed a relative to take a photograph of them together.
Miss Lilly said she was happy to see him. She wished him all the best and hoped he would come back again.
The walk continued down Fiddler’s Way to an unpaved track and on to Knot Street. Several dozen homes could be seen along the way. At one clearing, Mr. Edney McLean had set up a display of wood carvings, including boats, plaques and free forms, which the Prince stopped to look at.
The other home he visited was that of Isaac and Shirley Ann Jackson at the end of Knot Street across from Captain George Dixon Park. Mrs. Jackson said the Prince asked when the family had moved into their new home and where they had stayed after the storm.
She told him they had stayed first in a rented apartment at Frank Sound and then with relatives in North Side before moving into their home just this past November.
The visit was brief as Mrs. Jackson was ready to leave for church and the Prince’s party moved on to a tent set up with photographs depicting post-Ivan conditions and reconstruction.
The party then continued by bus to an area near the Salina Reserve off the Queen’s Highway. Fred Burton, director of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme, introduced Prince Edward to Chris Carr, iguana warden, and volunteers Stuart Petch and Louise Park.
The scheduled 10-minute stop lasted almost twice that long as the Prince asked detailed questions about iguana and the recovery programme.
The tour continued along the north coast into North Side, where the visitors could see the extent of the water pipe-laying project that began over a year ago. Just before noon, the bus stopped at Kaibo, where the party boarded a private vessel for the next leg of their journey.
With the Cayman Protector leading the way, the party visited the mangrove wetlands and stopped at Stingray City. Mrs. Ebanks-Petrie said the Prince listened attentively as she and Mr. Roulstone explained the importance of the mangrove to the ecology and as storm protection.
She said the Prince commented on his own diving experience at Stingray City during a previous visit and how much he had enjoyed the experience of meeting stingrays in their natural environment.
By then the sun had been out for some time and the waters of North Sound must have looked inviting.
But Prince Edward had a schedule to keep and a plane to catch for his visit to Little Cayman and Cayman Brac that same day.