Why So Blue, Iguana?

Yeah, yeah, I have fallen behind with the blog updating. WAY behind, but I’m feeling creative again, so well, the blog writing is restarting.

Last year, we went on our annual family vacation to the Cayman Islands, after a lay off of a few years. Unfortunately the covids closed the island and even getting there last year involved a lot of steps. A LOT. I will not detail them here and I completely understand why the island took such precautions. They’re a small island with comparatively fragile infrastructure, so they were right to be careful.

We did make it back to the island and there was something different about this visit. I think it was because we hadn’t been there for a while. Now we stay in the same resort every time we visit and it’s a lot of fun. There’s this revolving cast of animals that visits us. One day a cat and a chicken came to join us for our evening meal. My mother threw a piece of chicken out for the cat and the chicken came and ate it. I started saying — come on. You could be eating a friend!!!!!

The other thing about the island was that I didn’t have any cell signal there. At first I thought I was going to absolutely go out of my mind. As soon as we left the resort, there would be no cell signal. I would still take my phone with me, for some reason. I would scroll Instagram aimlessly, just to see it never update. Comical, I know.

Something started happening though after a few days. It was almost like I was going through detox. The phone is like constantly staring at a television. I mean that’s what it is basically. Suddenly that television was off. I cannot even describe the clarity I felt. I slept better than I had in years. It was a revolution. Of course as soon as I got off the plane, I went back to my phone staring ways. I do feel like though that I do need that yearly phone detox now.

Ok, we’re all the way down here and no mention of the iguanas. Ok now we’re going to get to them.

So the blue iguana is a miniature dinosaur looking creature that resides in the Cayman Islands. No one is sure why they are blue and no one really knows why they chose the Cayman Islands. I mean I’d live there if I could, so obviously the little guys might be on to something. We first started going to the Cayman Islands in 2012. That’s when we first encountered the blue iguanas. At that time, they lived in the Queen Elizabeth II Royal Botanic Park on the island. I mean more accurately, they kinda hung around the park, while the people who worked there, threw them a lettuce leaf or two.

That’s what always got me. The blue iguanas look fierce. They look like extreme predators but in reality, they are just chill little guys and gals who look like they are wearing wet suits that are too big for them and have little Popeye arms. Even though I do make it out to be slightly comical, the little guys were in danger then. When we started coming to the island, there were 25 of those blue iguanas. Their numbers were dwindling quickly. They had a lot of predators, including cats and you know, people.

The blue iguanas though have some pretty prominent friends. One of the iguanas who lives at the park, who goes by the name Peter, got to meet a certain British prince. I read a news story that Peter got to meet (at the time) Prince Charles at the park named after his mother. I asked one of the park employees about it and she said he showed in a tweed suit not really suited to the tropical temperatures of the Cayman Islands. I was going to include a picture here of the encounter here, but you can Google it. Type in “Prince Charles Blue Iguana” and you’ll see a British prince of a certain age laughing hysterically at the sight of Peter the Iguana wearing his ill fitting scaly blue reptile suit. Seriously, do it. You usually see (King) Prince Charles looking sorta formal and dour, but the blue iguana put him in a good mood or jolly as our across the pond cousins like to say.

So we’ve established that the blue iguana tends to put people in a good mood. So when we visited the last year, the blue critters had their accommodations upgraded. Considering that I once saw a blue iguana hanging out by a trash heap in the park, this was a real upgrade. The blue iguanas became the Jeffersons and if you get that reference, you are probably due for your annual colonoscopy.

The blue guys have experienced their own resurgence. Through the great work of the Blue Iguana Conservation program, the blues are back with a vengeance, as much as they can be. There are 500 or so of them running around the island now and their numbers are growing. Cute, blue and resilient. All good qualities.

Anyway, on our visit in May, the blue reptiles had been moved to their own enclosures, where they could chill and hang out on rocks all day and chase bugs and be predators for leaves all day, as God intended. They seemed quite content there. We met Phoebe and Metzador and Joey, Chandler, Monica and Rachel. Just kidding. I just made those other names up. As I’m walking through that place with my mom, they told us that in a couple of days, it was blue iguana day and we could come back and feed the blue beasts.

So we dutifully returned a few days later to celebrate this most unusual of creatures. I have to say it was a really fun day. You couldn’t really describe what we were doing as feeding them. It was more like they’d give you a cup of fruit for the iguanas and you could toss in their direction and they might take an interest. Some did and some definitely did not. The best thing though that happened was when one of the blue iguana climbed up on a little perch and sorta slid down in this half hilarious, completely ungraceful way. Big cats like snow leopards are beautiful and elegant. The blue iguana, well, they have faces only a mother could love and graceful, they are not. But they do make up for it in pure charisma.

I was there with my standard 30 pounds of camera equipment to capture the blue creatures from all angles. This is definitely my favorite picture I took. I call this one “Blue Iguana Hiding from a Rich White Lady With a Giant Camera.”

Here’s the rest of the blue iguanas photo shoot. Definitely, Vogue is next for these guys.

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