The Cayman Islands: When Only the Best Will Do

Leave it to Barefoot Man, also known locally as Cayman’s signature troubadour, to capture the heart of what makes Cayman, well, Cayman. His real name, as most know, is George Nowak (see his column on Page 6), but his talents go far beyond hummin’ and strummin’ on his six string.

Barefoot is an accomplished photographer, a songwriter of note, and an insightful author of “island books.”

He recently sent us this note:

“LOVED the Friday Compass: ‘Giant Ferris Wheel planned for George Town’; ‘SWAT Team sent out in the Brac to look for TV’; ‘Someone stealing toilet paper from public bathrooms.’ Only in the Cayman Islands can you get headlines like that.”

He’s got a point.

Perhaps more than any other Caribbean locale, Cayman somehow manages to maintain its “localness,” even as multi-story office buildings and condominium complexes increasingly put our past into the shade.

At the same time, almost daily news reports of crime and corruption, schools not making the grade, ballooning budgets and shrinking resources, might lead resident and visitor alike to conclude that something, indeed, is amiss in our own backyard.

One can become even more jaded if one’s daily diet of information is served up only by newspapers, blogs, radio chatter, and rumors. It reminds us of a skit put on a few years ago by about-to-graduate students of the Harvard Business School. It was titled, “Am I My Resume?”

We recently sat down for a catch-up with the Hon. Moses Kirkconnell, Minister of Tourism, successful businessman and unofficial ambassador of The Brac, much of which he owns and all of which he represents.

Moses, if we may be familiar, was musing about the specialness of the Cayman Islands and how fortunate we are to call it our home. Travel anywhere in the Caribbean – or, for that matter, almost anywhere in the world – and our islands are the envy of almost all. We too often forget that.

We have one of the highest standards of living in the world, our crime rates are low (that’s right, low), and our freedoms (from speech to assembly) are taken for granted. Despite our incredible diversity (more than 100 nationalities are represented here), we live together in remarkable harmony.

It may surprise Cayman’s “political classes” (and even more so our elected politicians) that politics does not occupy the epicenter of our daily lives.

Show us someone who spends more than a small amount of his time focusing on “who’s up or who’s down” in our political halls of power and we’ll show you someone who is truly unbalanced.

Years ago when we were at Newsweek magazine, we tracked very closely the correlation between newsstand sales and the images we put on the cover. Here’s what we learned:

Photographs sell better than illustrations, images of women sell better than men, anything having to do with royalty sells best (Princess Di made People magazine), entertainers consistently do well, and you could always count on a good scandal or a horrific disaster to give you a sales lift.

Care to guess what sold worst?

Good guess: Politics and politicians.

In Grand Cayman Magazine, we have the good fortune of focusing on “the best of the good life in the Cayman Islands,” and that rarely, if ever, has us dwelling on the negative.

Consider the following: As editor of this magazine, I might very well make a photo assignment to two separate photographers to take a couple days and bring back a photo essay of Grand Cayman.

Photographer One might wait for sunny skies before heading for the pure sands and clear waters of Seven Mile Beach (U.S. News & World Report has it short-listed as one of the finest beaches in the world), the beautiful horticulture in full flower at Camana Bay or at the Botanic Park, the swimmers at picturesque Smith Barcadere, or the antics of the jet-skiers off Royal Palms.

Photographer Two might wait for rainy weather (maybe even a Nor’wester if he’s got patience) before heading to Mount Trashmore, the traffic jams at the “Hurley’s roundabout”, or people jams on a seven-cruise-ship day in downtown George Town.

The point is that both sets of pictures represent a “real Cayman.” However, as all editors do, we have discretion in what we choose to publish, and for us it’s always content presenting the Cayman Islands to their best advantage.

Many (we hope most) of our readers will never be satisfied with “second best,” and we’ll continue to do our very best to ensure you are never less than totally satisfied with Grand Cayman Magazine.