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Cayman Brac - Spring Break 2012
For Spring Break 2012, I lead a group of 11 students to perform environmental service in the easternmost and second largest Cayman Island called Cayman Brac. The National Trust and Office of Nature Tourism asked us to focus the majority of our time cleaning various nature trails (that are popular for the locals to hike). The trail clean-up goal was to widen the trail (using tools such as loppers) so two people could comfortable hike the trail side-by-side and clean off all sticks, limbs, and trees lying in the middle of the path. Aside from trail clean-up, we also took two days to thoroughly clean two public beaches, one on the north side and one on the south side of the island.
During our week in the Brac, we cleaned four nature trails. The National Trust wanted us to clean these trails because since Hurricane Paloma hit in 2008, the locals have not had time to restore their favorite trails for their time has been spent restoring and rebuilding the majority of the local homes that were destroyed. Our first trail project was the 1.5 mile Salt Water Pond Trail which is a popular, historic trail on the west side of the island that connects the north and south ends of the island. This trail was really overgrown and at points we had to completely re-create the trail using the trail markings because the original trail no longer existed. The goal was to finish this trail in four days: we finished in a day and a half! The second trail was the south half of the Parrot Reserve Trail on the east side of the island. This trail required minor trail maintenance and while cleaning we looked for the local Cayman Brac Parrot. The third trail we cleaned was the 2.5 mile Lighthouse Trail that ends at the lighthouse on the east end of the island, offering a panoramic view of the Caribbean Sea. We were given a whole day to thoroughly widen and clean this trail but ended up only needing half a day! Our fourth and final trail to clean was the north half of the Parrot Reserve trail which also took us a solid half day to restore.
When we weren’t cleaning trails, we spent our time cleaning two of the islands beautiful and popular beaches: Long Beach and Southside Public Beach. Since Cuba, Jamaica, and Haiti dump their trash into the Caribbean Sea, the currents in the sea bring the trash to the shores of Cayman Brac. Both Long Beach and Public Beach are filled with too much trash, everything from water bottles and cups to toothbrushes, light bulbs, and underwear. Working on the beaches was special for us because locals came out to interact and volunteer with us. Overall we picked up about 80 bags of trash between both beaches. Although our trash cleanups were successful, we learned that in just a few more months, the same amount of trash would wash up again and need cleaning up.
Along with the service, another significant experience we had was hanging out with the locals. They were very pleased with our service and were very proactive about showing their appreciation. They took us hiking and snorkeling and they even invited us to their homes to have dinner. We were also invited to hang out and jam with a local band called The Jammers on two different evening. The Caymanians were very gracious people and quickly took us in like family. We thank them for their hospitality and for hosting our spring break service trip on their island.