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Saturday, May 29

Ohio checker veteran Steve Holliday 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).

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 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 is a good checker player. I played John in both 2000 and 2002 Nationals (8 draws total). He 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 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, etc.).

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 Match. After Gerry and Clayton continued with their practice games, we called it a night.

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