One of the other excursions I did with my family was to Stingray City. My aunt and I got off early in Grand Cayman to meet our 9:15 tour. The tender boat was faster than expected, so we were able to grab a coffee and a bit of wifi before our meeting time.
We were shuffled onto a bus and driven to a pier about 20 minutes away. The driver amused us with some fun facts about Grand Cayman along the way. We got off the bus and straight on a large catamaran. As we were riding, I talked with a nice couple sitting next to us. They had cruised about 25 times, starting with their honeymoon, and had lots of questions for me. While I was speaking with them, my aunt started talking to the photographer working for the tour group. Upon learning she was Serbian, my aunt introduced her to me. She is from the same city as my boyfriend, Belgrade, and has a number of friends that work on ships. I had some questions for her about visas and how she came to be working in Grand Cayman.
Upon our arrival at Stingray City, a large sandbar filled with stingrays, we were given a safety briefing. Fishermen used to come to the sandbar and clean their catches, giving extras to the rays, so the stingrays have come to associate the sound of boats with food. They are wild, and come to the area by choice. Since they are wild, we were instructed to keep our feet on the ground, so we don’t accidentally kick them and get stung.
There was a bucket of calamari, a favorite food of the stingrays, that we could feed them. We were told to keep our fingers curled in, so the rays didn’t bite our fingers by mistake. I grabbed a piece, but ended up chickening out!
The first time one of the stingrays came up behind me, I freaked out. I didn’t know where it was, and in looking for it, I lost my balance. I fell on the woman I had spoken with on the boat, who in turn fell on her husband. The stingray swam away oblivious to the line of dominoes it had knocked down. Another came up and grazed my leg. Its smooth wings tickled me, but still made me somewhat anxious.
I got in line to take photos with a giant ray that the guide had found. He helped me hold it, constantly reminding me to stay calm and keep breathing. The underside of the ray was so smooth! I was told to kiss it, but I was a bit wary being that close to a wild creature. For the final shots, the guide put her (the larger, darker stingrays are women) on my shoulder. Her wings were flapping over my face, causing me to laugh in spite of my fear.
On the ride back, my aunt and I sat in the shade and talked. It was great to have time with her to catch up on life. I’m glad she convinced me to join her for the excursion! I don’t’ know if it’s something I’d do again, but it was a fun, freaky experience.