The bottoms of my feet were as smooth as silk. I have never gotten my feet exfoliated at a spa, nor has it ever even crossed my mind that I could improve much about their appearance with a little care. However, after one special trip to the Cayman Islands, my feet and my mind were opened up to a whole new realm of experiences.
Unfortunately, it is a sad truth that many travelers today just decide to rent a car and drive to pre-planned destinations, when some of the greater places need to be found by different means. Last year, I discovered this in the magnificent Cayman Islands. My family stayed at the southernmost point of the stunning Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman at a place called the Grandview, hoping to avoid some of the crowds often seen closer to the middle of beaches. The first full day after our arrival, we decided to explore as much as we could, so we set out with some towels and drinks. We walked the entire length of the beach (only about 5.5 miles, as Seven Mile Beach is a misnomer), stopping several times to rest on the beach and try out the different areas, and reached the stunning snorkeling spot at the end of the beach. This spot, called Cemetery Beach, was superb, but soon we started to wander back. Just when our feet were starting to ache, we plopped down on the most beautiful and deserted stretch of sand we had ever seen. Soft, white sand contrasted against the vibrant teal pool of water right in front of us, and palm trees provided just enough shade from the hot sun. The location was in front of White Sands Beach Condominiums, and it was absolute paradise.
Every subsequent day we made the long trek to White Sands to enjoy the day. I soon realized that although White Sands was our favorite place to enjoy the beach, I would never have wished for us to stay there because I could never give up our long walk every day. People started to recognize us as we passed by each day, and some walked and talked with us for a while. A few even joined us at White Sands for part of the day; we met international businessmen with kind hearts and even a man whose daughter attended the same college as my sister. The people we met were agreeable and intriguing, and we never would have crossed paths if we had taken a vehicle every day. Walking and exploring were the best ways to get to know the area and the culture, and I can’t even imagine taking another vacation without walking to as many destinations as possible.
The single day that we had to take a ride to travel across the island, we took advantage of the local bus system. Fewer than four dollars will transport anyone to any location on the island, and the buses are only driven by locals. During our ten-minute bus ride, we visited with the bus driver, who seemed a little bored at first. It was obvious that she had dealt with too many typical tourists that asked her the same dull questions, so I decided to ask her more about herself and her life on the island. She immediately perked up and told her about living her whole life on the marvelous island, having her fair share of fun, and told us about all of her favorite places to eat and stay. At the end, she gave us a toothy smile and her card so that we could call and ask her any questions about the area.
So, with sand-hardened feet and an amiable lady’s contact information, I began to see that even a spectacular beach vacation can be made into something immensely special if the effort is made to really get to know the hidden areas, exotic visitors, and hospitable locals. In many cases, the journey proves to be more important than the final destination.
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