Author: Kathy Sykes

Kathy's Carriacou diary: Mapping it out

Updated Monday, 28th January 2008
Kathy Sykes's Mapping it Out diary, from the BBC/OU series Rough Science 2

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Day 1

Made tools all morning. It took ages for me to make a giant protractor - giant to make it give more accurate readings. Also, made compass, metre measures, and plumb line. Managed it quite quickly.

Then measured out base line on beach. Very hot and sunny. Needed to test out Mike L's distance measurer against a string 'ruler'. String - all ropey and sticky - a NIGHTMARE.

Needed to get moving to get up the highest mountain. Took so long to film things - didn't have long to climb it. Had to shoot us walking (viewed through cobwebs, bushes, grass etc) - so by the time we got there barely any light left to do surveying. Kept agreeing "just this one last bit of filming - then you're free". Then the freedom wouldn't happen. Nice views though! Good place to be. Impressed by crew dragging heavy camera gear fast up a mountain without complaint.

Day 2

Another AMAZING day.

Mike L and I stomped off round the island and saw AMAZING things! This island is a very pretty place. Got really hot, crazily thirsty, sandblown, windblown, sunburnt, deep in swampy forest. Also got cross, worried, angry, delirious and vexed. Very hard work climbing up hills in this heat!

Went from bay to bay taking readings - some were rocky so had to fight with tangled string. Some beaches were so windy we could barely hold the protractor still to take a reading. We clambered up the headland that looked most northerly. It was so pretty. Crazy with cacti though - got so stabbed and cross. But the views were mind-bending. Unbelievably turquoise sea. Views around all sides - so good for mapping.

Went to a gorgeous white sandy beach for lunch. Swam and ate happily, feeling very lucky again. End part of the day were mangrove swamps. Been in mangrove swamps before but this was so special. Nothing has looked like this before. Squelched through swamp, clambered over trees and got quite hot! Zoomed back in a boat in the rain - very pretty. Surfed along on big waves under pink stormy sky - happy.

We got all the measurements! Met by cheering group - hugs, beers and enthusiasm.


Day 3

What a complete contrast to yesterday!

Spent hours and hours doing trigonometry - drawing triangles, finding angles. Felt good to be sitting still and out of the sun after yesterday's adventures and sun excesses. Mike L hates maths so all up to me. Probably easier just having one person doing it anyway: you need to hold it all in your head for a while. So Mike L went off to do the height measurement of the highest mountain.

Got quite stressful - only had limited time to do the maths. And there were so many calculations! And since we couldn't see the highest mountain from any of the beaches other than ours, I had no 'anchor' to position the other bays by. So each headland was a complete guess.

But our brief glimpses of coast from the highest mountain helped lots - I knew that there were three headlands pointing NWish. And it got more stressful when I only had half an hour to draw on Ellen's beautifully-made paper. No mistakes Kath! Only one attempt. And I am not naturally inclined to 'neatness'!

And, naturally enough, Ellen was quite precious about the paper and ink. She tried to fill in 'forest' in green for me - when I clearly didn't want her to. Firstly, the whole island is covered in forest - so it would mean colouring it all in. Secondly, 'green' was a muddy, turd-like colour. Didn't want blackish sludge over my beautiful map.

Mike L and the crew were keen to keep out of the way of two women being precious about their paper and map. Quite funny really! But I wasn't going to let anyone change my map without permission. I just said "NO". Mike L did lots of it too - but he helped do it.

Childish, but it's no surprise when we've all worked so hard to make something work and there's only one attempt.

Jonathan's sound-recording device worked staggeringly well - only a few times but I was gob-smacked it worked at all. The paper and ink were beautiful (though black ink turned brilliant red when any other colour came close to it).

And our map was extremely close to the real thing! The height 300m - too close to be true though the position was a suspicious 30° out! Communication problem between me and Mike L. He said 60° - I interpreted 'from north' and he meant 'from his base-line'. Ah well. Chuffed to bits. And astonished too! Yipee!


Rest day

Fantastic day! Woke at 6 am ready to work and couldn't sleep again.

Went for 40 minute swim, early showers and sunshine. Few people around and no-one in the water. Swam down to pier and 20m beyond. Had leisurely breakfast overlooking sea with Ellen and Mike L. Slurped passion fruit juice and coffee, feeling dead lucky. Tried to sort out modem with Kate. No joy. Wandered into town and checked emails in Internet café while rain bucketed down outside.

Bought lashings of food and drink for party tonight that Mike L and I are doing.

At 3pm went for wonderful dive. First went zooming out on boat to the islands. Love that feeling of tipping over backwards into the water and a great dive. Buddied with Drew - who seems a very happy diver (approx 21m for 54 mins).

Raced back home to sort and prepare for party. Was determined not to do all the working while Mike L got pissed so ordered him about to make sure he did loads before he got drunk! I made guacamole with the most amazing water avocados. They are astonishingly good. We baked purple potatoes with bacon, cheese and onions. Paul made a heavenly Okra and Veggie curry. Lashings of drink and nibbles come. And we sat around in evening light chatting to hotel staff and each other.

At 9 pm went to see BIG DRUMS which are done for funerals, weddings, celebrations etc. It was the opening of a new restaurant. It was just amazing. Reminded me lots of being in Zimbabwe and dancing to drums there.

Huge, beautiful women dancers - in their 50s - moving with vigour, sexiness, elegance and passion. Magnificent! Got to join them too but only for one dance. Could have danced all night to that music!

But Ellen across the dance floor was crying. At end she quietly said we had to all leave together. Knew to not ask questions and just do it. Mike L reassuringly took off his sandals (he's a mean kick boxer). He'd spotted her crying first and seemed to know it was trouble. I'd thought she was reminiscing (like me) about past happy/sad moments. Drinking can do that. Eventually scraped most people together and walked home. She'd been told by an organiser to stand at the back. A pissed bloke turned up and seemed to be cross that a white woman was blocking his view. She's tall (6 foot). He got mad at her and yelled, saying "you're not invited or welcome".




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