A view of the pool in Hell | SummitDaily.com

A view of the pool in Hell

by Jane Stebbins

If you ever have to go on vacation using things like airplanes, ferries and mopeds, I’d recommend going to a travel agency near you. Those folks can really help you burn through your bank accounts!

We usually never use a travel agent, primarily because we cannot afford airfare, so we only go places accessible by car. We take a lot of vacations to visit family, where we can stay and eat for free. But Paradise, Kan., and Moscow, Idaho get kind of dull after about 10 minutes.

There are drawbacks to visiting family, too. My mother wanted me to paint her 6,000-square-foot house on a recent weekend stay. My father put my daughter to work sweeping up sawdust in his workshop. My mother-in-law made my husband go to church – and wear a tie. My brother handed me a rake before I got out of the car. My sister actually wanted me to cook.

We’ve never been overseas, and thought it would be fun to vacation in an obscure destination where no one knows us – or cares to. What better place than the land of obscurity: the Cayman Islands.

I like to dive and shop and sit in the sun. My husband doesn’t, but as part of our wedding vows – “for better or worse” – he has to go.

We were sorely dismayed, however, to find out we couldn’t get to the Cayman Islands by car. So we decided to risk it all and book a flight.

Kim, at a travel agent near us, was very helpful, locating for us extremely expensive airline tickets and hotels off the beaten track but with great views of the pool. Free drinks. Free food. Lots of sunshine. A $65 cleaning fee. The only thing she wanted for all her hard work was photographs.

“No one ever shows me photos,” she said. “I’ve never seen these places. I’ve only heard about them.”

We’re going in the so-called “low season,” meaning prices are lower because the odds of a hurricane ripping through the area are great and the temperatures are on the chilly side, like in the high-70s.

We like a little adventure in our vacations, too, so we’re going to get it by seeing how long it takes before the credit card companies cancel our Visa cards.

We knew the Caymans were expensive, but boy! Airline tickets for three were $700, not including surcharges, convenience fees, inconvenience fees, safety charges, courtesy fees, taking-off and landing fees, import taxes, sales taxes and miscellaneous money you need if you want to use the bathroom or look out a window. It’s a little extra if you want a pilot, too. Those little extra charges bumped each ticket up to $43,500.

Our only hang-up was getting a place to stay on Little Cayman. There are 2.7 hotels on the island and the nightly fees reflect that. A bungalow on the beach – “painted cement floors and ceiling fans!” – is $575 per person a night, not including electricity or running water. A condo with a view of the pool and a “short hike” to the ocean is $330 a night. A bed-and-Continental breakfast with no pool and an “invigorating hike” to the beach is $175 a night.

Since we’ve long given up trying to win the lottery, we expect this will be the only time we can afford to go to the Caymans. So we’re going to do it up. We’ll feed stingrays ($37 per person), take a tour in a glass-bottom submarine ($374 apiece), visit the town of Hell ($60 to rent mopeds, the primary means of transportation, and $7.50 for a driver’s license), dive Bloody Bay ($90) and sit in the sun (free. I hope.)

In reading about the Caymans, we learned we will be eating things like conch sandwiches and goat burgers, and shop for black coral jewelry. We admired photos of the crystal-blue oceans, the colorful fish and the laughing natives. They are laughing all the way to the bank.

We’re on our way! We’ll send postcards. But Kim gets a special photo: Our view of the pool in Hell.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.

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