10 June 2010

Sketches from Barbados

I can't believe it's been an entire decade since I returned from spending two weeks in Barbados.  I was there as one of twenty-three students in a Cross-Cultural Studies course.  I'm sure I'll blog some more reminisces about this soon; I'm in the process of gathering my former classmates in a Facebook group to share photos and stories.  Anyway, while rooting through my bin of souvenirs I came upon a few sketches I dashed off during those two weeks.  Here they are, with some remarks.

Woodvale Hotel Balcony, Third Floor

Of the twenty-three students, only six of us were guys.  In case you're wondering, no, I had no game then and made no effort to hook up with any of the girls.  Anyway, they booked the six of us guys in three adjacent rooms on the third (and highest) floor of the Woodvale Hotel.  Our rooms had two full-sized beds, a small kitchen and a balcony.  The above sketch was one I dashed off from our balcony.  You can't tell it from the angle I used, but directly beneath us was the courtyard, containing the swimming pool.  Just beyond the courtyard fence, the Caribbean Sea washed ashore.  My roommate was cool and I genuinely liked the guy, but what made my experience in that room even more special was the fact that he and several others elected to sleep in one of the other rooms most nights.  I flung open the outside door on those nights and fell asleep with the sea breeze wafting in and the sound of lapping waves lulling me to slumber.

Barbados Green Monkey

Barbados is a small island, whose outline is shown in the above sketch (it's the vaguely phallic looking thing the monkey appears to be holding).  And yet, they've done a remarkable job preserving tracts of nature and offering wildlife the chance to roam unhindered.  The highlight is the Barbados green monkey, so named for the green tinge to its fur.  We were all captivated by these unique creatures, whom we were fortunate to see up close and in person, without any cages or barriers of any kind between us.

Still Life from Souvenirs

I took $1000 with me to a place where the conversion rate was two local dollars for every one U.S. dollar and on the return home I had to borrow money from a classmate to buy lunch at an airport.  And while I brought back a handful of souvenirs, most of them were free advertisement postcards.  I spent the majority of my money on experiences, but I did find a few items I desired enough to purchase.  One night, I flaked out in the hotel room and did this sketch from the lot of them.  The items are, from left to right: a miniature Barbados flag; a seashell; a sailing ship made from sugar cane; and a guitarist made from some kind of wiry substance and painted a bronze color.  The guitarist was one of several different instrumentalists, and I kind of wish I'd bought the whole band because they looked so neat.  I settled on this guy, though, because he just looks so nonchalant that I felt he reflected the mood of the island.

Weimer's, 23 May 2000

The Barbados Tourism department arranged for us to spend an afternoon at Weimer's, a beach club that I gather normally charged an above-modest admission fee.  Upon entering the premises, they had an island bar (meaning, it was rectangular, with four counters; like the one on Cheers).  Beyond that was an open-aired courtyard with tables.  That looked out onto their beach, which had a volleyball net and other activities.  Several of my classmates rented beach bikes and other flotation toys and went into the water.  I'm not a swimmer, so I decided that instead of embarrassing myself in a game of volleyball, I'd just chill and sketch.  I wish I had the talent to keep up with all the different people who were playing volleyball that day, but I settled on one girl who tended to stay near the area I'd already established with my framing of the foreground.

The fun thing for me that day was that another classmate saw me sketching this piece and asked me to sketch her.  I'd never been asked to sketch someone before, so I was a bit nervous (especially considering how problematic faces have always been for me), but she assured me she wouldn't be too harsh in her evaluation.  Anyway, she sat across from me at the table and I sketched her.  She was thrilled with it, which in turn thrilled me.  I'll never forget she kept telling me she'd had a few people sketch her over the years and that I was the first who really captured the smirk she tended to give as a smile.  I gave her the piece, which is why it isn't included here.  I wish I had a scan of it, though.

I might post some photos and other memories from those extraordinary two weeks.  In the meantime, I'm really tired and Hallmark Channel has stopped showing Cheers in lieu of infomercials.  Off to bed!