Tuesday, February 14, 2006

From the Heart

I promised quite a long time ago that I would post some of my watercolor sketches of my travels for you, so on this day of Valentine's, I thought perhaps sharing some of the work of my heart and of my hands would be more special for you. So, from my heart to yours, let me share some of my little adventures.

Georgetown, Cayman Islands
Copyright © 2005, Scotti Briggs

The view from the tender as we approached Georgetown is perhaps the most comprehensive view of the town that you can see. The pavilion to the right of the tender -- that's "boat" to non-nautical types -- with the yellow roof is a hospitality area provided by the tourist board. This is the place from which most of the tours depart. The large red roof is Kirk Freeport, a very large retail store selling luxury goods. Directly in front of the tender is the local Tourist Bureau, which also houses the local museum.

The Gift Shop, Hell, Cayman Islands
Copyright © 2005, Scotti Briggs

Hell is an intriguing place... and no, I am not making that up! (Although, for my critics, I can now sincerely state that I've been to Hell and back.) What makes "Hell" into Hell, is a huge area of limestones and dolomite that have been eroded over centuries by algae which eats away the calcium deposits within the rock. As a result, it leaves behind a field of grotesque, pointy rock formations that become stained black by the algae.

There is a gift shop in Hell where one can buy touristy types of things such as a T-shirt that states: "Hell -- wish you were here." It also has it's own post office, so if you go to Hell, be sure to think up some catchy wording so you are fully prepared to send appropriate messages home.

The Rooster from Hell...

Okay... I acknowledge a certain weakness for critters of any kind, so while I was preparing my sketch of the gift shop, this handsome fellow strutted in front of the rock upon which I was perched and seemed to demand my attention, which he earned by repeatedly coming up to my toes. (The cookie I had just eaten had nothing to do with it.) So, since he insisted, I took a few minutes to sketch him, as well. Once he was satisfied that I had noticed, he puffed up his broad little chest and strutted off to find some female attention of the feathered sort. I think I may have dated his brother once.

The Rooster from Hell, Cayman Islands
Copyright © 2005, Scotti Briggs

The Tortuga Rum Factory Store

The Tortuga Rum Factory Store is located on a property adjacent to the Cayman Islands Turtle Farm. The sea turtle has become an endangered species and the turtle farm breeds them in a protected environment, allows them to mature in stone walled pools and then releases them back to the sea. It's not entirely altruistic -- turtle meat is a local staple --but I suppose in the grand scheme of things, the fact that a majority of the mature turtles are released is a good thing.

The Tortuga Rum Factory, Cayman Islands
Copyright © 2005, Scotti Briggs

The Tortuga Rum Factory Store specializes in all things rum... candies and cake are the specialties. If you have never sampled the chocolate or pineapple-coconut rum cake, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. Of course, I would suggest going to Hell, first, just to get it out of the way; the rum cake is a rather devilish confection.

Costa Maya (Mahahual), Mexico

Finally, I will leave you with an image of Costa Maya (Mahahual), Mexico. Fact is, there is no such place as "Costa Maya." It is entirely a creation of the cruise ship industry. Costa Maya is primarily a shopping plaza with some resort amenities located close to Mahahual, Mexico. As you can see from the watercolor, there is a very large beach with thatch roof cabanas furnished to provide shade for those who would rather avoid a third degree burn, hundreds of lounge chairs, a huge swimming pool and of course, the ubiquitous stores. Inside the entrance of the hot pink plaza, there is a central mall area that houses stalls filled with local vendors. Don't forget to haggle over the prices...luckily, I had Brooklyn-born Irene with me. I was ready to walk away from a wall plaque when she began to bargain with the vendor. As a result, I got the plaque for 1/2 the marked price. After she did that, I had no choice -- I had to purchase it. If you take a brazen friend, be sure that you really want the item before they begin to negotate! Lucky for me, I did.

Next time, I will share more of Mexico and Belize. For now, from my heart to yours...

Costa Maya (Mahahual), Mexico
Copyright © 2005, Scotti Briggs

Happy Valentine's Day!