Return to Cayman – Party on the Plane

The party started at Heathrow.  Now normally I am used to heading over to the airport, sipping a coffee and a Danish while reading the paper and waiting to board, then settling down for hours of movie watching and eating from plastic trays.  Rarely do I have more than a fleeting conversation with any of my flying neighbours, infrequently I might travel with a colleague.  But this time there was a contingent of about twenty people from UK institutions that were all travelling on the plane, as well as the Crown Dependencies of Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey (the makeup of UK territories is quite complex)  as well as several from Gibraltar and the South Atlantic who were connecting through London .  British Airways only fly every couple of days to Cayman Islands and this was the one which most closely coincided with the conference.  So it really was no big surprise to start seeing familiar faces as I headed to the gate.


Conservationists from all over the world

Once on board there was a party atmosphere; I wondered what the effect we had on the other 100 or so passengers either heading with us to Cayman or going on to Turks and Caicos where the flight was scheduled to head off to once we had been dumped off.  I suppose it was a bit like a polite version of a rugby team or stag weekend group.

It meant that before we even reached the hotel we had gelled as a group. Once there we met the Caribbean delegates and a couple of others from other parts of the world , and we were ready to start the party. Oh, and conduct some serious conversation about conservation to boot.

Blown Away -Strong Bonds

The hotel were good at finding accommodation and reduced their rates to allow people to stay.  We found ourselves in the water park of the resort most mornings discussing the latest theories of the terrorist act, the possibilities of getting home.  A few of us arranged a trip to Ocho Rios in order to see the Dunns River Falls only to find them shut ( I managed a few days later to do it on my own and had a wonderful time wearing pink suckered shoes to climb up the slippery falls and wallow in the cool mountain water), and end up at a steamy restaurant on the outskirts of town.  I went into Mo Bay (Montego Bay for the uninitiated) and drank and ate at its many bars and restaurants.  By the end of that week I had a number of lifelong friends; we’d shared a siege mentality and a period we would never see again.

I joined the committee for organising this meeting three years later in Barbados, and we then moved on to the Bahamas and then the Cayman Islands.  We have since been at Trinidad and Back to the hotel in Mo bay.


Some of the Caribbean GIS crew

I looked forward very much to the Cayman Islands conference.   I didn’t meet up often with most of the delegates.  This year there was a larger than usual contingent from BVI where I was based for two years.  And I had not been to Cayman Islands before.