Grand Cayman 2010, The Review

My extended family – my wife and our four young kids, plus my folks and my brother – had the opportunity to hike the Mastic Trail on Grand Cayman with Stuart Mailer & his wife on December 27, 2010. For our outdoorsy family, this relaxed morning was the perfect antidote to the rushed fun of the commercial tourism which plagues the western end of the island. Stuart paced the hike to suit my slightly unsteady mom, even though this probably extended his normal trip time by at least an hour. Here I should note that while the jagged crags flanking parts of the Mastic Trail put the forked stones of the CI’s Hell to shame, the path was manageable for everyone in our group, six to sixty-something. Stuart kept up his informative banter the entire way, ranging between what were obviously oft’ told tales about key points of interest to serious responses to our questions, whether posed by an adult or a hyper-inquisitive child, to impromptu “I Spy” moments when an anole darted, a racer slithered, or a parrot flapped across our path. Each time there was something new to be seen – practically a step by step event – Stuart would pause to tell us a bit more about Grand Cayman’s natural history. He even got the kids to smell and/or taste the crushed leaves of a number of the native plants. Huge kudos to Stuart – we truly appreciated his detailed knowledge of the trail’s flora & fauna. Outside the classroom, I’ve never heard anyone so comfortable with Linnaean classification that the Latinate names followed the common as though there were no other way of speaking. For my part, even if it’s another two decades until I return to Grand Cayman (I hope not), I won’t forget to beware the various Shake Hands – common, but evocative naming of some prickly trees! My wife is a science teacher and she’s not easy to impress, but he more than passed muster; she’s raved about our knowledgeable guide to several folks. We emphasized to John, the manager at the Turtlenest Inn, that he should point their guests in Stuart’s direction. Stateside, we’ll both suggest to anyone traveling to Grand Cayman that they book Stuart’s tour. And many thanks to his wife as well. We all appreciate that she took the time to come along and share her considerable understanding. Several weeks after our trip I finally found time to write to Stuart and he kindly forwarded photos he shot of the various birds we saw on the day of our hike. We simply could not have asked for a better experience!

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