Culture vs. development
I wanted so badly to document the parts of Cayman that too often go unacknowledged. See, I’ve developed this heavy dislike for the endless tourism pushes that market nothing more than white sand and turquoise waters. My love and respect for cultural identity prevents me from feeling any other way.
But how easy is it to document a culture that has almost been eradicated? In my mind were images of the hands that crafted thatch baskets for over 20 years and the faces of men who would sit on their porch every evening smoking cigars or chewing straw. I wanted the kind of fishing that didn't involve chartered boats and the skinning of iguanas for a really traditional Caymanian stew. Much easier imagined than found.
Most of the old Caymanian ways have been replaced with more modern (read Western) ways of operation. In the pursuit of economic growth, cultural identity has been sacrificed to an extent that leaves us Millennials broken hearted. Yes, vendors sell coconut water on the waterfront, the National Cultural Foundation continues to host Rundown and each year the highly anticipated Heritage Days take place, but these little things in no way make up for the Cayman Kind that once was.
Of what is left, perhaps we can appreciate the rugged iron shores that deserve to be bragged about, the rare scenes of old-fashioned fishing along the Eastern Districts, and the George Town fish market that, praise be to God, hasn’t yet been discontinued.
There’s also the remaining traditional homes, narrow streets, food shacks and the salty air that work together to provide that good ol’ Caymanian feel the Eastern Districts continue to cling to.
With regards to tourism versus development however, it remains the painful reality that Grand Cayman stands a victim of cultural imperialism. How foolish it is to forsake one's own identity in the pursuit of wealth.