Saturday, May 29
Ohio checker veteran, Steve Holiday, drove
me to the Cleveland airport, where I flew
to New York, La Guardia on Continental Airlines.
I was happy that my bags were checked all
the way through Barbados. Approaching New
York, I had good views of the Statue of Liberty,
Manhattan, and Shea stadium. Wow! New York
city is quite a sight! Next was a pair of
4-hour flights on American Airlines to Miami
and then Bridgetown, Barbados. My first encounter
with a U.S. team member was on the Miami-Barbados
flight, where Albert and Sue Tucker of Louisiana
had the same flight. Albert is a GAYP specialist
and will participate in his first international
match as one of the two alternates (Charles
Freeman being the other).
John Walcott from Barbados
We arrived in Barbados in the evening after
dark. Barbados is on Atlantic Standard Time
(no Daylight Savings), so I didn't even have
to reset my watch from Eastern Time. Because
Barbados is so far South and East, it is
dark by 6:30 pm (compared to 9:00 pm back
home this time of year). The airport is a
long, flat one-story building, so we disembarked
from the plane via a long, movable stairway.
After dealing with the usual passport and
declarations steps, I was happy to see checkers player John
Walcott greet us at the airport. John Walcott
(along with Ron King, Jack Francis, and Nathaniel
Grosvenor) represented Barbados at recent
U. S. National tournaments. John Walcott
from Barbados is a good checker player. I
played checker match with John Walcott in
both 2000 and 2002 Nationals (8 draws total).
John is the only player from Barbados I have
ever played. Outside the terminal, Albert
and I met Alex Moiseyev, who had arrived
30 minutes earlier from another flight. Erskine
Bayne, who would later conduct the checker
match of Barbados also met me at the airport
and gave me a ride to our hotel. The airport
is located on the southern tip of the island.
We traveled northwest, as the hotel is midway
between the airport and the capital, Bridgetown.
Erskine invited me to relax while in Barbados
and to make use of the island amenities (beaches,
The drive to the hotel was a bit of an adventure.
Cars drive on the left hand side of the road
(as in England). The roads were winding,
unmarked, and very narrow. I suppose the
locals are used to this driving atmosphere,
but it was a bit crazy compared to what I'm
used to. On the way we passed through Oistins,
a fishing village. A look on the streets
showed what kind of nightlife Barbados has
to offer. The sidewalks were bustling with
activity, and the street side had many vendors
and open barbecues with food for sell.
Accommodations at the Dover Beach Hotel
were not available on this first night, but
rooms were available at the nearby Meridian
hotel, about a 30 second walk from the Dover
Beach Hotel. Accommodations were certainly
adequate, but not overly fancy. There were
no bedspreads on the beds, just a simple
bed sheet for covers. (However, it doesn't
get cold in Barbados anyway.) The room did
have a kitchenette. The first night I roomed
with Clayton Nash and my old friend, Gerry
Lopez who both arrived earlier in the day.
Gerry is 82 and from California. He played
well in the 2001 England match. He said this
was the first time he had been away from
his wife in 27 years! Clayton is from Mississippi
and is 20. He and Steve Jones are two of
America's promising young players who are
appearing in their first International Checker
Match. After Gerry and Clayton continued
with their practice checker match games,
we called it a night.