We made it. We left September 1, picked up by a driver at 4:30 am, and we all got to JFK for the 8:30am direct flight to the Grantley Adams International airport in Barbados. It couldn't have been smoother yet we were saying at the end, "let's not do this again." I do believe that all the extra effort that goes into moving to a new country for a year is well worth it, but time will tell. The view to the left is from our apartment in St. James so I think we will be pretty happy here.
Tomorrow is my first day going into the UWI, so I wanted to catch this blog up on what all went into getting off to Barbados. I’ve been without internet of late, detailed below, but now I’m back in action.
I mentioned in a previous post some of the things that needed to be done or looked into prior to departure. Here are a few more items that we needed to take care of before we left:
Mothballing the vehicles - Since we decided on NOT taking a car with us, we needed to winterizing them. We have two cars. We're not driving them so we needed to take care to get the insurance reduced for the year and still have it so that mice won't eat the rubber tubing and start to live in the vehicles.
Internet - The apartment we are renting comes with high speed internet through the phone line. I haven't heard of this, but that is what it is. We needed to look into buying a modem prior to taking off. We were told that we go to a Lime Retail Outlet and buy one and then we are all set.
Packing, packing real real light! - We had a pile worth of mostly essential items to bring. We had two large suitcases or duffel bags each. We had a scale. We did a pretty amazing job of keeping our weight per person down to 140 lbs. I will be going back in October and will pick up those few things that we could live without for a month and a half.
Paperwork for a long-term visa - We needed to take care to remember the birth certificates, passports, extra passport photos (because we'll be in Barbados so long), vaccination records for the kids, police character report, a letter from our bank and a character report from our employer. Wow!
Bringing money - We decided to bring American Express Travelers Cheques. We got the travelers checks at AAA, where, if you are a member (which we are), there are no fees. This was a big cost savings. (Note: Updated travelers checks information added Dec 2009.)
Starting a bank account - We were advised by past Fulbrighters to Barbados that opening a bank account can take some time. With a few phone calls we decided to go with one particular bank. The bank asked us to bring a bank check from your bank in the U.S., plus a letter of good character from the bank, plus two forms of ID. All of this should expedite our new account.
After arriving in Barbados, here are some things to note: Though we brought Travelers Cheques, they are definitely not preferred by vendors. (See this post added in Dec 2009.) The checks take a month to clear at the banks. What we need to do is cash them and then pay in Barbados dollars. Since we’ve opened a bank account, we think that we will be able to cash the travelers check and not have to have the long wait.
The funds that we brought via a bank check will take a month to clear. Seems excessive but we can wait that long.
It took longer to get our car arrangement than we had originally planned so it took longer to get to the Lime Cable & Wireless Retail Store to buy the modem. We finally bought the modem (wireless!) but it is still not working quite properly. We hope this will be resolved by Monday. I need to call into Lime and give them a number off the bottom of the modem and then, viola, we should be in wireless business!
We got to the Lime Retail Store in Speightstown by bus. The bus was a breeze and costs very little to ride. While at Lime, we bought two cheap, no-thrills, cell phones. We also got $25 BBD worth of minutes.
Food and other supplies are expensive. Eating out at restaurants is very expensive. Rum drinks are not expensive.
The Bajan people have been so friendly and welcoming. One guy thanked me for coming to share my knowledge.
Flickr and Panoramio. This is us in full research mode! Cute, huh?
It's all about to begin!