A Report from My Grandson
As some of you know, I will be going to Barbados this week to pick up my grandson, Sam, who has spent the last three months there with his mother and step-father. Barbados and higher mathematics, the step-father's teaching and research field (specifically non-commutative ring theory?!), may not seem like a natural match to you, but a major campus of the University of the West Indies is there and they have a Math Department so I suppose that's where he is spending his sabbatical.
Sam has been having a grand time and has managed to send only one e-mail to his father (my son, Kyle), but it was a good one. I'm very proud of his travelogue style, mostly I suppose, because it sounds sorta like mine. So I'm going to let this be the introduction; here is the letter:
How are you? I'm doing fine. I'm reeaaally sorry I didn't write sooner, but there's a ton of stuff going on. I've gone swimming every day, I've seen boring historical crud, and I've even been on a three-hour, seven mile, five-o-clock-in-the-morning hike.
Barbados is great. There are a lot of palm trees and also a lot of anoles (which are basically geckoes). When the anoles are young, they are brown and have yellow stripes. Then, as they get older, they become green with brown stripes, then pure green, next their heads turn blue, and finally, they get black speckles. But the best thing, of course, is catching them. They are incredible jumpers, and very fast. There was an insane kid from New York, New York, who lived next door for a week. He had obviously only ever encountered cockroaches and city pigeons in the way of wildlife, except at the zoo. He got me to catch anoles for him to keep as pets. I caught one, he kept it, it died. I caught one, he handled it roughly, he let it go, it died. Now, back to happier issues.
We have been snorkeling and have seen a lot of cool fish. There's a place with a reef and a shipwreck (actually two shipwrecks) which serves the purpose perfectly. We have seen numerous yellow and blue fish, as well as tan eels with brown spots. There's also an incredibly huge parrotfish who comes by once in a while (we're pretty sure it's the same one each time, but we're not positive.)
There's a festival going on this week. Last night, while we were watching a performance, I met a guy named Hans. He was an inebriated marine biologist who told me about the things that I've seen in the sand. Apparently they are called "sea roaches". They look exactly like the water boatmen you see in lakes, except they are white and nocturnal. He also told me a story about how he was out of sight from land in a little fishing boat (don't ask me why) and his engine died. He fixed it, heard something, and turned to see a big flat thing slumped over the side. This is how he described it: Vroom. "Yaay, it works!" FWUMP. "Huh" "AA-(rev, rev, vroom)-AAAAAAA!" I'll let you assess his truthfulness.
I've been doing a lot of stuff on the laptop, like making a huge monster chart. I have thirty-four monsters, ranging from giant rats and spiders to wyrms and gnoll tribes. Under each, I have hit points, magic points, attacks, e v e r y t h i n g. I'm using Microsoft Excel (like I usually do for charts.) I'm also going to make a PowerPoint presentation as well as a report on sea urchins (if I can pull it off, as I don't have much time left.)
Guess what? I FINALLY got past the place I was stuck at on Mario & Luigi! I had to fight this guy who commanded a regiment of shroobs. He calls out three shroobs and gets a shroob-saucer-thing to drop a ginormous shroob-omb on top of them. Then the three shroobs chuck the bomb at you and you have to hit it back, like Gannondorf tennis. When there is only one support shroob left, he gets squished. If it is the far shroob, the bomb rolls toward you and you die. If it is the middle shroob, the bomb just sits there and nothing happens. If it is the near shroob, however, the bomb rolls off the screen and blows up the leader-guy. Then he runs on-screen and you can kick his butt.
I've been buying sunscreen and bug spray and reading a guidebook, so I know a few things, but not a lot. I have learned that public Internet access is available in three places, but that it's quite expensive (like $15 - $20 US an hour, as opposed to the $5/hour I would expect to pay in Belize.)
I have a pick-up from the airport (after a 15 hour trip) and a place to stay for the first three days, so that seems like enough to get me started. I'll be there for two weeks. Oh, yes, one thing I know I will do is the Friday night fish fry in the fishing village of Oistins--which conveniently is "just below" my guest house. "Just below" probably means you have to climb back up, but I'm hoping for taxi service, or maybe some of those nice pedal-cabs. Wish me luck.