HOME › Forums › General Discussion Topics about the Cayman Islands › Trip Reports › Cayman Brac Feb 2009
This will be my first attempt at pictures using photobucket and it may get ugly. Here is my first picture – butterflies were everywhere on the island. Apparently post Paloma, lot of plants, vines, trees, etc were blooming – some the locals hadn’t seen bloom for years.
This is at the airport, and there are several butterflies feeding on this flowering bush.
Let’s see how this one works out before I try the rest of the photos.
Overall, we had a great trip and even managed to track down Brakker and Bonnie, although buying fresh fish eluded us. We had a great lunch with them and took a look at some of the damage around their place. Repairs are happening, but slowly.
The island looks very different this time, the green lushness is gone (temporarily) and there is still a lot of debris around. There were roadside crews working daily to pick up garbage and debris from the bushes at the side of the road. Everywhere, construction crews were working on repairs. I really can’t imagine how the island must have looked immediately after the hurricane.
All around, trees that were snapped off almost at their bases, were beginning to sprout new growth. This seemingly dead looking branch was shooting nice new foliage out.
Although these huge trees at the government administration building were not broken completely, it will probably take some time to grow all the branches back. I wish I had a before picture to compare with.
Many of the homeowners and business owners looked really exhausted, and when you talked to them, they are still in major recovery mode. I think it is just about impossible for anyone who didn’t live through Paloma or another brutal storm like it to really comprehend what people have gone through. Although no-one was directly killed in the storm, one of our close friends has lost 3 siblings in the 3 short months after Paloma – so I guess the stress of it all takes its toll one way or another.
There were very choppy seas almost everyday while we were there, so the food barge was a bit delayed. It’s lucky there are several grocery stores on the island, because after making the rounds, we found everything we were looking for. We also brought some food from home that we thought might be hard to find.
Most of our days were spent hacking our way through the bushes and fallen trees on our property to try and mark a boundary line. The beach time and down time visiting with friends was really appreciated.
Most of my pictures center around the recovery of the flora and fauna of Cayman Brac.
This is a flowering vine I found in the bushes, unfortunately, I’m not much of a botanist and don’t know the name.
Here is a sunset on the Northside from a friend’s deck.
This little gecko was out one night, and I was shooting into pitch dark to get him. Not sure if his spots will show up or not.
Great camouflage with this lizard. He was hard to see, and I could only find him when he moved. He’s tiny, only a couple of inches long.
More flowering trees.
Lastly, we rescued this palm tree at the edge of our property using brute force to erect it and heavy cord to tie it to sea grape. I had no idea coconut palm trees were so heavy, but they are. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the cords hold until the roots can re-establish themselves.
If you visit the Brac now, make sure you go again in a couple years to see the utter transformation.
thanks for the report and pictures. I know it’s hard to imagine what the Brac must have been like right after Paloma. Recovery is such a long process-especially when everything has to be shipped in.
We were in Grand Cayman 3 or 4 months after Ivan and it was amazing to see the bare trees and then also amazing to see the new growth. Things grow so quickly down there. There weren’t many places to stay so we ended up on the Brac that year.
Do you have a house there, or just the property?
No house yet, just land so far. We have big dreams though!!! It’s fun to think about the possibilities.
Are there places to stay there now? Where did you stay?
Dreams are great! Something to look forward to.
As you may know, the Brac Reef is still undergoing construction, so they are still several months away from receiving guests. It looks like they are planning on upgrading their property as our waiter there told us they were building a “fine dining” restaurant as part of their complex. Their new bar which is open, has a nice dark granite countertop that looks really good and is still one of the main watering holes on the island. The food available at the Brac Reef is usual bar fare for now.
We stayed at a house called Paradise Found (2 Bdrm home) on the Northside for 4 nights, then stayed at Mango Manor (B&B) for 3 nights. I think many of the guest houses are open for business now. Of course that depends on how much damage they got from Paloma. Both Mango Manor and Paradise Found sustained damage in the storm, and have done a lot of work to get their places ready for guests.
There is also a very nice looking brand new motel/hotel? on the Brac, located right near the salt pond lagoon in the West End. It looks beautiful, but I don’t believe it is open yet. They have over 30 single bedroom with kitchenette type units for rental. I’m hoping they will also put in a restaurant, but I don’t know about that.
thanks for the Brac update and really glad you were able to find a place to stay. I had read about that new hotel and supposedly they only lost a few shingles during Paloma-but evidently it was more than that.
Hope your next trip down there everything is back to normal
We’re glad you got back to that far-away place you call home. Traveling that far would have been unpleasant for me…. but not for Bonnie. She loves to travel! Enjoyed your pictures. Wish I could supply names to the plants but haven’t been here long enough to learn the names…. and probably will never know (or remember) most of them. Those trees at the admin building were Norfolk Island pines… not native and not widely grown here. There was another nicely-shaped one with the two pictured which was decorated for Christmas every year but it was lost during the storm.
We’re glad that you are interested in ecology and preservation of the island plants, etc. and look forward to seeing you again. Perhaps we can hike some of the trails and do some exploring….. if you can tear away from your land clean-up! That’s a nice piece of land you have but it ‘s going to take some work to get it like you want it (as if you didn’t know!) We went on the Salt Water Pond Trail last month and cleared some of the downed trees from Paloma, and Bonnie happened to take a picture of one of those little red-flowered vines, same as you posted. Haven’t found out what it is but will keep trying. Also found a manchineel blown across the trail. Be wary of any you might find while clearing your property! They are very toxic.
Thanks for the head’s up about the Manchineel. I had no idea this toxic tree even existed, nevermind on our property. Thanks for the photos. We will print these out and scout around next time. Also, we’ll have to give the kids a science lesson before they visit.
The manchineel sounds quite toxic, yet fascinating. Probably contains the cure to cancer if manipulated properly.
Here is a blurb about the Manchineel that I found on the Internet:
The tree and its parts contain strong toxins. It will secrete a white milky substance during rainfall. Allegedly, standing beneath the tree during rain may cause blistering of the skin from mere contact with this liquid. Burning the tree may cause blindness if the smoke reaches the eyes. The fruit can also be fatal if eaten. Many trees carry a warning sign, while others are marked with a red “X” on the trunk to indicate danger.
The tree contains 12-deoxy-5-hydroxyphorbol-6gamma,7alpha-oxide, hippomanins, mancinellin, and sapogenin, phloracetophenone-2,4-dimethylether is present in the leaves, while the fruits possess physostigmine.
The Caribs used the sap of this tree to poison their arrows and would tie captives to the trunk of the tree, ensuring a slow and painful death. A poultice of arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) was used by the Arawaks and Taíno as an antidote against such arrow poisons. The Caribs were known to poison the water supply of their enemies with the leaves. Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León was struck by an arrow that had been poisoned with Manchineel sap during battle with the Calusa in Florida, dying shortly thereafter.
To Europeans, the manchineel quickly became notorious. The heroine of Giacomo Meyerbeer’s 1865 opera L’Africaine commits suicide by lying under a manchineel tree and inhaling the plant’s vapours. In the 1956 film Wind Across The Everglades, a notorious poacher named Cottonmouth (played by Burl Ives) ties a victim to the trunk of a manchineel tree. The poor soul screams as the sap burns his skin, and the next morning he is shown dead with a painful grimace etched on his face. To the audience the image of the deadly manchineel must have been familiar to some degree.
It’s awful what hurricanes can do.
Wonderful, I learned a lot!