Next Adventure - Barbados!

Very exciting news! I was awarded a Fulbright to the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus in Barbados for the academic year 2009-2010. I tend to keep pinching myself in disbelief but it is, in fact, true. I will be heading out in late August for a nearly year-long adventure for the whole family. Photo credit Kate Skegg.

This blog will be a way to document my travels and experiences as a Fulbrighter. CIES, who administers the Fulbright grants, encourages dissemination of the Fulbright experience, so I am starting that process with this blog post. Thank you, U.S Department of State for making this happen. My work with the University of the West Indies (UWI) is based on my geospatial expertise; I will teach a GIS class and work on at least two mapping projects during my nine-month stay. If you want to know more about the geospatial aspects of this research, please see my other blog, GIS @ Vassar. Sometimes, hard to believe, folks don't care all that much about computer-based mapping. Go figure! But while in Barbados and "employed" at the UWI, I will have the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) privilege of visiting nearby Caribbean islands at the travel rate for a Bajan citizen. I hope to do some travel around Barbados, of course, and I hope to make it back to Trinidad for Carnival and Panorama (I went there in my pre-blogging days), and other yet-to-be-determined islands.

I was in Barbados recently to try to find a place to live, a school for the kids and meet with my new colleague at the UWI, Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES). It was a whirlwind trip but very productive. We looked at so many apartments, villas, houses, and such that our heads were spinning. I had a Flip video camera in hand and took lots of video all along the way. Here is our hotel in St. Lawrence Gap, called the South Gap Hotel. I didn't review this hotel on TripAdvisor because I've been more busy than ever but it was not a bad place to land for a few nights. Not bad at all.

Like my other posts from China, I want to make my posts geospatially aware. Though I did not take my GPS on this recent trip, I was here: 13°0'N 59°32'W

Every place we went, every turn we made, the beauty of the country was evident. The ocean on the south end and the west side of Barbados was amazing. Though the locals complain about traffic and travel times, their gripes fall on the deaf ears of a native of Los Angeles. If I have to commute 45 minutes to the UWI, it's a small price to pay for being in what seems to be very close to paradise.

Here's what I want to find out while in Barbados: When is mango season? Are the birds as beautiful as in Trinidad and Tobago? Is Mt. Gay Rum truly superior to Jamaica's Appleton? Is Crop Over comparable to T&T's carnival? Will I get a new soca fix? What is it like to live in a country geared towards a tourist economy as opposed to T&T where they practically spit on tourists (I was NOT one, thank you very much). And...what IS this thing you call 'cricket'?

With any luck, I will come to an understanding of cricket, and the obsession that exists for the game in the West Indies. I was in Trinidad and Tobago for six months in 2003 and got to feel the national love for Brian Lara (running with bat in hand above), but never really 'got it.' Maybe now I will... Photo credit Chennette.

The next part of my Fulbright experience will be a Fulbright Orientation in Washington DC. I look forward to this experience and so much more. Stay tuned!