Cupid … how a pudgy, winged toddler ever became the symbol of love baffles me. Then again, I have never bought into Valentine’s Day and the billions spent annually in an attempt to foster love on this day; it’s money better spent funding marriage counselling if you ask me!
But everyone’s not me, and when 14 February rolls around, Cayman pulls out the red and pink hearts as much as anyplace else. Nowhere is this more visible than Camana Bay, where practically all the shops offer something for the romantic in you. Patrons can buy jewellery, chocolates, flowers, teddy bears, lingerie and other chintz to gift to dear ones, including grandparents, parents, siblings, teachers and friends. This is because Valentine’s Day is now regarded as the holiday that celebrates love between any two individuals and not just lovers. It kind of takes the romance out of the day, don’t you think?
I wasn’t always this cynical. As a young girl growing up in Cayman I had my fair share of smooches in South Sound, which was the official Lover’s Lane of Grand Cayman. Sadly, development has taken those dark, secluded spots and I don’t know what teenagers get up to these days. I do know they use the compliment “love you like cooked food” – an endearment given to one’s “steady.” I think it’s because we have a fascination, some would say love affair, with our local food.
Casting my mind back to the ‘70s, imported exotic flowers like roses were non-existent, so our man du jour would comb the island for prized rose bushes and nip a few buds from someone’s yard. I was the recipient of many stolen flowers, which in this heat lasted about a day or two – about the same span as many of my suitors. Ahhh young love.
One superstition suggests that if you are single, the first unmarried person you see on 14 February will be your future mate for life. Fortunately there is a simple way of dodging this destiny, if you are willing to remain hidden indoors until the clock strikes midnight and the love spell is broken. Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year and since I’m a creature of habit, the first man I usually see on Tuesdays is the baby-faced 20-something cashier at Bay Market at Camana Bay. I might not tempt fate and just sleep in that day!
If you survive Valentine’s Day, the next big revelry festivity is 28 February, Mardi Gras Day. Locals are not ones to pass up any excuse to celebrate, so find out where the party is and come join us.
The next day, 1 March, is Ash Wednesday, a public holiday and the date of Grand Cayman’s annual agricultural show. Here you will be able to sample and purchase the same kinds of produce you can buy at Camana Bay’s Farmers & Artisans Market that happens every Wednesday, but on a much larger scale. And if you don’t leave early, say around 7:30am, you’ll also get to sample one of Cayman’s most massive traffic delays, so plan accordingly.