Our Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are getting local praise and good reviews of what Grand Cayman used to be like.
Once labelled the “Islands Time Forgot” those in Grand Cayman can only read about the easy going, tranquil and friendlier days that Caymanians were accustom to back in the day.
Those in Cayman Brac are still living it.
For local singers George Nowak and Andy Martin, nothing in Grand Cayman quite matches up to the yesteryears like it does in Cayman Brac.
Visiting the Brac with his good friend Andy to take in the annual Agriculture Show and meet up with old time friends Quincy and EddyLee he shares his Brac tales, over drinks at Ed’s Place; a favourite local watering hole.
“A moment like this amongst friends, how do you describe it? I am convinced the one word best describes a vacation in the Brac and that is “charming.” The atmosphere, the people, the food, and the environment are beautiful, it is hard to put any other name to it,” Mr. Nowak said.
“I came to the Cayman Islands in 1971 and I miss that era, it was so charming when I first arrived in Grand Cayman. It is no longer there, but I can still find it in Cayman Brac.”
Mr. Nowak’s first trip to the Brac was in 1974.
“When I arrived there I found a quaint, laid-back, do what you please island with wonderful people and delicious food. The good thing about it is nothing has changed. Maybe to the Brac’rs it has changed, but to me who comes every so often, three to four times a year, it is the same beautiful place. That is what is so charming about it,” he said.
Staying at the newly built Alexander Hotel on his recent trip, Mr. Nowak was taken aback by the beautiful surroundings with nesting birds and pristine landscape, which he said gives the place an air of a carefree days.
More than pleased at everything he was experiencing in the Brac he named his favourite places as everywhere they served beer and friends could be found.
“My favourite Brac story is when Andy brought me to Cayman Brac to play at the Buccaneer Hotel for the first time,” he said. “That spur-of-the-moment adventure of searching for food made me truly realise and appreciate the people of Cayman Brac.
“I pictured maybe we were heading to a Denny’s or a waffle house and never dreamed we would end up in someone’s private kitchen cooking scrambled eggs and bacon while the owners slept,” said Mr. Nowak, known affectionately in the Cayman Islands as Barefoot.
“Heading down the road, Andy kept saying no not here, no not here. Stop! Yes pull in here, I looked ahead and it was just a private home. The lights were out and from the look of things everyone seemed to be asleep,” he said. “It was remarkable. The door was not locked so we went into the house and started cooking. At the time, I said, ‘Andy, who lives here?’ Andy walks over to a table with pictures, picks one up and says ‘Trevor Foster, hehehe.’ At that time, Trevor wonders in the kitchen dressed in pyjamas and I thought the man was probably holding a shotgun or a club for invading his home. But he just said oh! It is just you all and goes back to bed.”
Barefoot claims he has told and retold this story hundreds of times because to him that was the most charming thing he had ever experienced.
“If someone had invaded my home at 2am in the morning and decides to cook himself a meal I probably would have busted a vein,” he said. “That open home policy is what makes Cayman Brac people so special.”
Andy lives in Grand Cayman and so does George, but they always return to Cayman Brac.
“One can easily get used to the laid back way of life so I just perform and head back to Grand Cayman.
When asked if he will retire in Cayman Brac, Mr. Martin said he already has his apartment waiting for him on the bluff.
“I remember travelling to Miami in the 1970s, just a stone’s throw from Grand Cayman and some people there had never even heard about the Cayman Islands,” he said. “At the time I was astonished, but yet filled with pride as I told stories of how my dollar was high and although the island was only 20 something miles long everyone lived good and everyone knew their next door neighbour, this they found very hard to believe.”