Delegates from the Caribbean community discovered Cayman’s cultural heritage on display at Nurse Josie’s Heritage House in Bodden Town Thursday.
Here for the 43rd Annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Regional Conference, some 62 delegates from approximately 20 commonwealth countries will be in Cayman until June 23.
The tour of the heritage house Thursday morning was the first on their agenda of culture experiences.
Mary Lawrence, chairperson of the Bodden Town Heritage Committee, along with committee members led delegates on a tour of two homes – Nurse Josie’s and a maritime heritage house – displaying marine artifacts along with other memorabilia.
“Bodden Town held the first church, the first school and first parliament where our government was formed,” boasted Ms. Lawrence as she welcomed the delegates to Bodden Town.
“As you go through the two buildings, you will see a part of our history,” she continued. “For 15 years, a group of senior citizens – like myself – got together and decided we had to preserve the heritage of the country, which was fast slipping away and being absorbed into other areas, as we now have 130 nationalities living in the island. To be sure our heritage was preserved, we started working on the heritage homes in 2003.”
She said they secured the first building and later the second building, which they filled with artifacts they collected along the way.
“I like the buildings … Bodden Town is just fascinating. I like the poems; the poetry is sweet … the history, the culture, the artifacts. Everything is just amazing, it’s a great experience,” said Zavia Walker, a Jamaican delegate on his first trip to Cayman.
“The delegates have been loving the island. They like how Caymanians used to live back then, and they also said how fortunate we were compared to how they were raised. So far, they are enjoying it,” said Manesa Webb, a Legislative Assembly and parliamentary procedure clerk on tour with the group.
“It has been really nice. It’s very similar to Bermuda culturally but you guys just have more of a mixture of Caribbean than us, but it is very similar,” said Taj Outerbridge from Bermuda.
“Its very comforting to be somewhere else like home … Its very hot though,” said Mr. Outerbridge, catching a seat under the shade of a naseberry tree.
Since arriving on Tuesday, Mr. Outerbridge said the delegates have visited the Havana Club and the Legislative Assembly, but this was their first day of cultural tours as they have been in conferences since arriving.
“It’s very cool that you guys are preserving your heritage, and Bermuda should do the same. It’s been really interesting,” Mr. Outerbridge added.
Laquesha Bailey from Trinidad said she really liked the island on her first trip.
“It’s interesting to learn about the history and how people here lived. A lot of things are like my country in Trinidad, but there are subtle differences, and it’s nice to find out about it,” she said.
Xavier Richardson, also from Trinidad and Tobago, said so far the trip has been amazing.
“There is a lot of fun activities that we are doing. It’s really informative and so far, it has been great.”
He said he looked forward to seeing what else the island has to offer.
“The Heritage House is nice with a lot of unique artifacts and history, and things that are intricately designed,” he added.
Welcoming delegates, Anthony Eden, MLA for Bodden Town West, said the heritage houses were the center of culture and heritage in the Cayman Islands.
“What you will see is the greatest collection of artifacts displayed by a handful of senior citizens,” he told the delegates.
As delegates moved around the two buildings and outside where several craft works were on display, Ms. Lawrence invited the group to enjoy a taste of Caymanian conch chowder, coconut bread, banana bread, cassava cakes and several kinds of native drinks.
The conference at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort will also include the annual general meeting of the CPA, the 11th Regional Conference of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, and the 14th Annual Regional Youth Parliament.