A visit to East End

My
visits to the Cayman Islands have always been pleasurable. Since I am an avid
fisherman I have never had anything less than fun-filled days rewarded with a
catch of Snapper or some colourful parrot fish, delicious, that I love to see
either fried or steamed on my plate.

Being
a farmer on a neighbouring island, I had always sought information as to what
grows well here and where. On two occasions I visited the Farmers Market in
Lower Valley and on those two occasions I came away disappointed, possibly because
of my own expectations. I really was looking forward to seeing a wide display
of a variety of tropical fruits and vegetables.

The
vendors present did have some peppers, pumpkins and preserves for sale. Fruit
and  a variety of palm trees were also in
evidence. I was told that most of the produce offered was grown in the eastern
end of the Island.

I
also learned that there was rich agricultural soil and fresh underground water
for irrigation. Now that, I had to see because I had been previously ‘misinformed’
that there was no fresh or untreated water on the Island. Caymanians I had
spoken to, were unaware of these natural assets.

A tour was offered and I
gladly accepted. My guide knew the area well having been born and raised in
East End. A literal ‘son of the soil.’

We left the main highway and
turned inland. A mile inland and the topography of the land begins to change.
The soil has a reddish hue and the vegetation is lush. Fertile pastures
supported numerous contented cows and small farms dotted both sides of the
road.

Our first stop was at a
large tank that stores water pumped from numerous wells. The untreated water
tasted like spring water. I was told that a large aquifer existed just below
the surface in that area. I visited a pond from which the cows drank.

Folklore has it that thee is
an underground water passage that starts below the pond and exits by the
shoreline some miles away.

As
we made our way inland, the farms became larger and the produce became more
diverse. Bananas, plantains, yams, coconuts and papayas were plentiful.

I
enquired about the commercial viability of these farms. I was told that one
supermarket chain gets their locally grown produce from their own farm in the
area. The smaller farm plots supply families with the surplus being sold by
roadside vendors. From my own personal experience the prices asked by these
vendors are extremely reasonable.

A
field of sorrel loomed into view and seemed to be alight in the afternoon sun.
The red petals all appear to have tiny light bulbs. Avocado (pear) and mango
trees seem to stretch forever. Bright red ackees added colour to this fruitful
landscape.

This
is a place I could spend the day without being aware of the time. This is a
place I definitely recommend to anyone seeking stress relief. This palatable
peacefulness seems to be a permanent fixture.

As
we started making our way back I closed my eyes and started a mental slide
show, recalling the vivid pictures of green. The fresh water pond. The well
tended agricultural farms and grazing cattle. I had been on the road less
travelled to a part of Cayman that some Caymanians know nothing about.

Reflecting on my Sunday
afternoon excursion into that eco-friendly and fruitful part of the East End I
have to concluded that the farmers and residents are deliberately keeping this
area ‘off the map’. It was not surprising that everyone I spoke to during my
tour was very protective of their rights of land ownership and entertained no
suggestion of parting with any of their lands through sale. There was a pride
in ownership and a tradition that their land should be handed down through
successive generations.

Educational
and revitalising are two words that come to mind when I think of my trip.

Chester Johnson

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