I’M BAACK: I was away on my first dive trip in almost three years, thanks to stupid Covid lockdowns. It was nice. Some pics:

Yes, I was in Cayman again. It was good to see familiar places and old friends, though sadly some landmarks — like Edoardo’s Italian Restaurant — didn’t survive the lockdowns.

Cayman was like traveling back in time. Mask requirements in public places are common, with uniformed security enforcing them at grocery stores. I had to have a test and get an authorization to travel before I could go. And, of course — not Cayman’s fault — I had to get another Covid test before returning to the United States. The travel rules are asinine, given that every country has plenty of internal cases already. But they aren’t there to protect you, they’re there to empower bureaucrats.

Interestingly, the plane to Cayman was packed in the First Class and “Delta Comfort” sections, but less than half full in Main Cabin. My guess is that while there’s a lot of pent-up demand, ordinary people can’t afford the trip as easily as pre-Covid in light of all the economic devastation of late. Or maybe they’re just less willing to jump through all the hoops.

We did talk to several people who said that if they’d realized how much hassle travel to Cayman still was, they’d have gone elsewhere. And I chatted with a woman from a major dive operation who said they were at only about 30% capacity. Like many countries, the lockdowns did enormous economic damage for little or no health benefit.

The toll on Cayman businesses has been enormous. Many places are out of business entirely or just limping along. And many people wonder if regular visitors will have just fallen out of the habit of visiting. There were a couple of cruise ships in port over the week I was there, but nothing like the level of cruise traffic they used to get, either. On the upside, locals seemed exceptionally friendly, even by Cayman standards. I think they’re glad to have business coming back, even a bit. I tried to tip generously — when we went to one restaurant for lunch we were the only customers there, and it wasn’t an expensive place. That would never have happened in the old days.

The diving was excellent. We saw eagle rays, sea turtles (including one roughly the size of a VW beetle, and another mating pair who didn’t seem to appreciate our presence.) There were some sharks, some octopi, and the usual assortment of fish. Seeing how relaxed and refreshed I was, the Insta-Wife suggested I should make these trips a quarterly thing. I guess I should just say “yes, dear.”