IGUANAS AND CRABS AND CROCS – OH MY!

Land CrabThe other day I was driving back from East End with a friend who was staying at one of our Cayman Kai homes, No Big Ting.  Just a half mile before we got to the turn off that would put us onto North Side Road (which turns into Rum Point Drive – don’t get me started on street names here), I saw a giant concrete land crab out of the corner of my eye!  I have lived in Grand Cayman since 2007 and thought I knew where all the cool stuff was on island.  I was wrong!

I turned around and there was a lovely spot to park (it’s marked for parking with a welcome sign).  A set of signs on one of the trees announces “Davinoff’s Concrete Sculptures”. I couldn’t believe what I saw – tucked away off the road, surrounded by beautiful native and tropical plants (coconut palms, agaves, lilies, frangipani(plumeria to some), oleander, sea grape trees) on a beach sand yard (an old style Cayman front yard) were the most fascinating concrete sculptures – and the more we walked around, the more we discovered.  The land crab, a crocodile and a blue iguana all stand out when you first arrive. A feature area, looking very much like a pond with lilies in various stages of bloom, has a sea turtle (pearl and silver necklaces lovingly placed around his neck); a mermaid (her hair and headdress resplendent in a variety of small shells, her scales made from green bottle glass and a coral fan tail) sits elegantly on a rock; a decidedly scary eel, green and rearing up in the middle of the “pond” – teeth ready to strike; and a stingray, dark grey and hiding among the lilies, all delight.

Well, after all of the discoveries, I had to go and do some research – who had done this?  Who was “Davinoff”?  And why wasn’t there more information about this too interesting site?!

Onto the internet (whatever did we do before we had the internet?)…and there I discovered the secrets of the Concrete Garden (well, some of them, anyway – thanks to George Nowak (the Barefoot Man – his alter ego)).

David Quasius (nicknamed Davinoff) and his wife, Kathy, have been living in North Side for extended periods since 1998.  From Sheboygan, Wisconsin, David was looking for something to do when not fishing or snorkeling and decided to give concrete sculpturing a try. The sea turtle was his first sculpture and later there was the mermaid, stingray and then an eel. A tarpon, its scales made from oyster shells is an interesting use of natural elements. As the number of sculptures increased, the couple decided to move them closer to the road so that others could enjoy them.

The first new sculpture after the move was Ivana, the blue iguana.  She is beautifully coloured and majestically posed – and people began noticing the garden. In 2011 Davinoff constructed Romenio, a 17 foot Cuban crocodile and then 2012, the land crab named Clawdette (my favourite – no, wait – the sea turtle is my favourite – no…).  In 2013 Davinoff has entwined a huge concrete snake into the frangipani tree, a red apple with a large bite out of it dangling on a nearby branch. The most ambitious project so far – a HUGE scorpion – so large and realistic as to make me turn away cringing (not surprisingly, a big hit with any kid who has seen it with me)! David’s goal? To sculpt animals associated with the Cayman Islands.  My favourite, though, is a mother hen and her baby chicks, right next to the chicken crossing sign!

It’s also a  geocaching site for those of you who participate…

The welcome sign and parking spots mean that people can visit without impeding traffic.  The only things that David and Kathy ask: please don’t litter and respect their privacy (their home is on the same property behind the park).

I’m told that the elusive Cayman parrots also like to hang out in the trees and eat the sea grapes– they are hard to see – green with red throats – I usually hear them (they are NOISY) long before I see them (they frequent our home near Rum Point).  I haven’t seen any at the garden but I plan to go back regularly to see what Davinoff’s next project will be.  Actually, I have been trying to get out weekly to see a particular agave plant (also known as the century plant) growing in the garden.  It’s bloom spike has grown to over fifteen feet.  Once it finishes flowering, the agave will die but the flowering is spectacular (since a plant will take 15 to 20 years to grow its flower).

You can find the park in Old Man Bay at 249 Old Robin Road – about a half mile before the North Side Road/Old Robin Road/Frank Sound Road turnoff.  It’s free and I promise you will be charmed.

Sea Turtle and Mermaid