Quote about Port of Spain, Trinidad

A friend of ours just came from a professional meeting in Trinidad and Tobago. In 2003, we lived for six months in Trinidad in a suburb of Port of Spain, Diego Martin, and have fond memories of the twin island country. One might even say we is trini 2 de bone.

Our friend was overjoyed with her conference and the brief site-seeing she got to do around Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago's capital. She studies the writings of Derek Walcott who also attended the conference. The city moved her so much that our friend sent this quote of Walcott's, reflecting on Port of Spain. It reminds me of why I loved the place so much.
". . . so racially various that the cultures of the world--the Asiatic, the Mediterranean, the European, the African--would be represented in it, its humane variety more exciting than Joyce's Dublin. Its citizens would intermarry as they chose, from instinct, not tradition, until their children find it increasingly futile to trace that genealogy . . . This is Port of Spain to me, a city ideal in its commercial and human proportions, where a citizen is a walker and not a pedestrian, and this is how Athens may have been before it became a cultural echo. "
I relish in hearing of Americans having a great experience in Trinidad. Last November, we met a U.S. diplomat-type who had just spent six weeks in Trinidad and you know what she said? "I loved it there. I am Trini to de Bone, and all of that." If you want to witness a true melting pot, take the time to visit Trinidad.

While living in Trinidad, there wasn't much mention of Barbados by Trinis, however, there was a clear animosity towards Jamaica...dat place ent safe, guhl...too too much crime gwan on der. Well, we come to Barbados in September, with a love for Trinidad in our hearts and what do we hear? Trinidad has so much killins der, it ent safe, dahlin'! I doh go der, ya know! Does every place have to have another place they fear or feel superior over?

All I know is that we loved Trinidad and want to go back there while we live so close. The children were too small to remember the feeling of all those cultures mixing and living and blending together. Frankly, that is not a phenomenon they are seeing here in Barbados, but my thoughts on that may have to come in another post.

I'm not going to lie, since coming to Barbados, where the living is easy, folks are friendly and every last beach is divine, we have fallen for the place. There's a lot to like here in Barbados, but there's a lot to appreciate about Trinidad and Tobago. Let's put it this way, Trinidad is so much more than Carnival.

Image of coconut vendor in Port of Spain is from tuchodi's Flickr account.


Exercising on the Beach

Prior to moving to Barbados, I tried to figure out as much as possible how I could set up my life as similarly to that of my life in Poughkeepsie. Back home, I went to the college's gym. It;s either cold and snowy or sweltering hot and the gym is climate-controlled. In August or so, about a month before our move, a spoke with Kim about a couple of research-related things and then asked about gyms in Barbados. She didn't actually laugh at me, but she did say something like, 'well, I don't ever go to a gym. I've got the beach.'

I haven't been to a gym here. I've got the beach. I run barefoot along Carlisle Bay beach or on my own beach at Alleyne's Bay, where I can jog all the way to Mullin's Bay. The west coast has lots of long stretches of firm-sand beach, perfect for long walks or quick runs.

Lot's of Bajans workout after work. If they don't happen to live near the beach, you can see folks power walking, running or biking along the highway. It looks odd and seems dangerous, but the highway gives one an open stretch of pavement on which to get in the exercise time. If you're driving at dusk in Barbados, be cautious of the exercising crowd.

Creative Commons Flickr photo is by johncooke.


Research Days at the UWI

On Monday and Tuesday the University of the West Indies had Research Days and I was asked by CERMES to be a part of it. I loaded the Google Earth file for the Grenadines MarSIS project on to a laptop, Dale set it up with a touch screen monitor, and I showed off the project I've been working on. In the video, you'll see me giving a bit of the schpiel to an attendee. It was a nice conference, the first they've had on campus. I was glad to participate.

Video of the Grenadines Workshops

I finalized the video of Kim's and my trip to the Grenadines for the discussion of the MarSIS project data. Like I said in the blog post, it was a whirlwind trip. But it was very satisfying.


Try Surfer's Cafe in Oistin's

Since coming to Barbados in September last year, we've found a few places we love to go to every now and again. Surfer's Cafe - Obskewer is one of them. This seaside cafe, as you can see in the video, has a terrific view of the Caribbean Sea. But as they say, 'you can't taste the view.' So, go for the view but keep coming back (and bring your friends) for the food.

Not typical Bajan food, the Surfer's Cafe serves up egg breakfasts, like omelets, eggs benedict, breakfast wraps, frittatas. They have bagels and bacon and grilled tomatoes. And the coffee, although not cheap and not a bottomless cup like at home, is the best we've had on the island accept for our own coffee brewed at home. The prices for meals are totally reasonable.

Latitude: 13° 3'51.95"N; Longitude: 59° 32'46.65"W

Where is it? Near Oistins Fish Market. Across the street from the Super Center. Small hole-in-the-wall, a window to the sea. Oh, and they have free wi-fi. This is my "office" on some of my luckier days.

Yes, the bottle of orange stuff on the table is pepper sauce. Use with caution but put it on everything.

Photos are from my Flickr Photostream.


Don't Litter!

Look, Barbados is beautiful. It is amazingly gorgeous. The sea. The land. All of it is breathtaking. There's no getting around it. Why do I see people here dropping their litter? Please, don't drop your garbage on the ground or in the sea.

In the past couple of weeks I've seen two examples of blatant trash-tossing. Both were locals. Not tourists. Not the cruise ships, okay. One was a family having a lime on the beach near my house. I saw them when I went for a jog. The next morning their plastic liter cola bottles and other junk was in a neat pile right where they left it. No one is coming along the beach to pick up trash. The second time was a child who goes to my children's school. He was drinking a soft drink, surf board under one arm, bottle held in the other hand. As he approached the sea to hit the waves, he stuck the bottle in his mouth. He paddled out a little ways, tilted the bottle back to finish off the last of the soda and then tossed the bottle into the sea.

The sea washes garbage up onto the sand all the time. There's no getting around the fact that the world has a refuse problem. Don't add to it by getting rid of your own leftovers onto the ground. We all have to live here. On earth.

The photo was taken by me in Speightstown, St. Peter.


Banking in Barbados - Closing the Account

I got a good piece of banking advice and information from another Fulbrighter who recently left Barbados to go back to the U.S.

As you know, we opened an account here in Barbados. So did the another Fulbrighter, whose fellowship was over at the end of December. When she went close out her Barbadian bank account, she was told she needed a week to get her remaining funds. As a foreign national, she needed to get permission to close the account from the Central Bank, proof from the University of the West Indies that they were NOT paying her, and proof of the original source of the funds, which, I think, was her home bank in the U.S. The CIES Fulbright stipend payment does not go to foreign banks, but to our local banks back home, then we transfer the money to the Barbadian bank. I think that another issue is the Central Bank transactions must take place before noon. Here's her final thought: "If I had known about the need for such documents, I would have started the process the week prior."

So, all you people moving to Barbados, take heed! Follow the steps above and close your bank account in Barbados early.

Photo is from the Library of Virginia's Flickr stream.


Things to Remember Before You Move to Barbados

I've been meaning to blog, really I have. I've had a marvelous couple of weeks of "vacation" during the holidays. But this post isn't that post.

Around Christmas time some friend from New York and I were on the beach at Dover, in St Lawrence Gap, near some band playing steel pan. An American guy started talking to us and told me in his heavy Bostonian accent about one of his favorite blogs...something like Janet in Barbados. So, big time blogger and blog reader that I am, I looked it up...Planet Barbados. It's a blog by a transplanted American woman who married a Bajan man and now lives in Barbados. Lucky her!

For my future Fulbrighter friends or anyone else out there who wishes to know more about Barbados before you get on that plane, here is some more good advice to add to the list.

From Janet Shattuck Hoyos: Barbados: Six Things I Wish I’d Known Before Moving Here

The picture above shows Bridgetown with a rainbow draped over it. Very appropriate. I shot it in mid-December 2009.