Monthly musings – Reflections from What’s Hot contributor Vicki Wheaton

The joys of (Easter) camping

Vicki WheatonIf you are new to Cayman, you’ll maybe wonder why you are suddenly seeing tents and camping paraphernalia popping up everywhere this month.

Is a mass fumigation of houses happening? Do the locals know something you don’t? Is CUC planning to cut electricity island-wide for 48 hours?

The answer is: none of the above. Camping out over the Easter weekend is a time-honored Cayman tradition, when families and friends start staking out claims on plots a few days prior so they can nab the best views at their site.

The levels of roughing it range from a small tent and coal barbecue, catching fish and cooking it from extra-fresh, to impressive structures boasting multiple rooms, furniture, generators, televisions and every modern convenience including, but not limited to, tablets and video games. One can sigh and long for the simple days of yesteryear, right up until Mother Nature calls upon one’s inner workings, as she is wont to do. At that moment, a portable toilet in decent nick is a welcome sight. Going in the thicket is an overrated joy … so I’ve heard.

My family moved here in 1975 and yet I have never camped over the Easter weekend. The closest I came to the experience in Cayman was when my siblings and I were given permission to remove two high-backed chairs from the family dining table, along with a large bedsheet, so we could construct a makeshift tent in the backyard. We had a great time, playing board games and reading by candlelight, until the mosquitoes came out in force, driving us back inside. No jungle explorers were we.

After that, the one and only other time I gave camping a try was in 2004 when I was visiting my then-boyfriend in Australia. He was Crocodile Dundee brought to life, at one with all manner of bush and beast. I, on the other hand, was the epitome of the bumbling British lass. He watched with amusement as I attempted to start a fire in a clearing. I could tick “arsonist” off my résumé, as the ability to get kindling to “take” after 30 minutes of crouching over it with a lighter completely eluded me. Either he was getting this campfire going or we were eating cold cuisine.

A loud noise in the forest in the dead of night was most unwelcome, rousing me from my slumber with a jerk. I went outside to see which of Australia’s many deadly creatures had honed in on our camp and was preparing to strike. A full history of National Geographic programs flashed before my eyes as I readied myself to be horribly poisoned and subsequently consumed by whatever was lumbering towards me in the dark. I turned the full force of my flashlight on what revealed itself to be an inquisitive cow. Ah, so not the bunyip.

Perhaps now that I have faced down – and triumphed against – Australia’s most savage wild animal, I am ready to try camping once again in Cayman this Easter. On the other hand, there is always room at The Ritz-Carlton.