The Last Hoorah
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Monday, Dec. 24, 2001
Mom and I had a lovely time on Grand Cayman Islands, tendering to its shores on placid, blue waters. There I bought a beautiful, intricate bracelet for Frida. The tag reads, “These beads are made from sacred cow bones in India. After dying a natural death, the bones are recycled into beautiful beads and worn with great reverence towards the circle of life.”
We spotted a cute little store that specialized in hematite, an affordable volcanic rock that is polished with diamond dust into a variety of jewelry.
I bought a bracelet made of round hematite stones on an elastic band for my sister Linda. I also purchased an elegant hematite necklace for Mom — charming and thousands of dollars cheaper than the coral necklace she was looking for but could not find.
It’s humid as hell out here. My currency is soggy, and I am sweating profusely and very glad to be back on our air-conditioned ship.
4:05 p.m. The ship is preparing to leave Grand Cayman on our way to Progresso. I'm sitting in the mahogany-paneled library in a very comfortable leather chair, my laptop perched atop a polished wooden table.
After a day of shopping, Mom’s foot swelled up to the size of a small balloon and I almost went into shock at the sight of it.
A veteran of old age, Mother reassured me that all was well, having seen it all before. I elevated her foot and went to the dining room where I asked for a small bag of ice.
They gave me an enormous garbage bag of ice, and I, not wanting to seem ungrateful, lugged it to our stateroom and transferred it into a smaller plastic bag and set it on Mom’s foot with a plush towel for insulation.
Hopefully that ice helps it. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor, but I’ve seen doctors prescribe sillier things in my time. Not sure what I will do with all the extra ice. Guess I’ll let the cabin boy figure that out.
By far the highlight of my visit to the Cayman Islands was watching a Cuban expatriate slowly and methodically roll a cigar from scratch. The end result was a piece of art.
I never realized what went into a quality cigar. I just thought it was a heap of tobacco scraps rolled up by a machine, but nothing could be further from the truth. The cigar-maker used large tobacco leaves for its insides and lovingly covered it with other leaves, cut with a sharp, flat tool that was probably handed down through generations.
A special glue held the ends of the tobacco leaves together, but just when you thought it was finished, she cut more pieces and rolled it into a cylinder of perfect symmetry and cleanly cut it on an antique machine that looked like something you’d find at the Smithsonian Institute.
I swear that old lady spent a good five minutes making that cigar, a cigar that will ultimately sell for around $10.
I was concerned about getting Mom back to the ship, and the tendering process is no picnic for an 87-year-old, not to mention the moving gangplank and a ladder that could easily double as a slide in a playground.
It took three burly men to get her on and off the ship, and I was grateful for their assistance.
After over an hour of careful shopping, we got back to the ship and ate a healthy lunch. Afterwards, I had no desire to return to Grand Cayman by myself, so I put on my bathing suit and returned to that odd Jacuzzi pool where I spent the next hour.
I discovered another therapeutic feature about that pool. It had a little waterfall that proved to be an excellent way to massage my arm (ravaged by a decade of repetitive movements in the copy center).
The tropical sun is so intense that I have forgone trying to get a tan. Just the sight of all these very pink people walking around served as a cautionary tale to me, someone who burns with the greatest of ease.
It was so fabulous to get back on board this ship with its refrigerated air-conditioned interior. And now I feel it start to move, its anchor lifting, we are heading back out to sea.
Good bye Grand Cayman! What an odd phenomenon you are, sitting in the middle of the Caribbean below Cuba with its cars that have the steering wheels on the right-hand side and people who drive on the left side of the road.
This marks the end of the FIFTEENTH installment of "The Last Hoorah." If you'd like to start from the beginning, then please click this page.
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