It was time to fly out again, this time I would be gone for almost 4 weeks in a row with a packed tournament schedule. Aruba, Brazil, and Mexico back to back then a week break and off to Columbia. This time I was heading to the Caribbean for the CAREBACO championships which happen every year, last year it was in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and we got a bronze medal in the team championships. This year we would see what we could fight to get. I was also the first seed in the individual BWF singles event.
Flying to Aruba proved a little longer and harder than expected but nothing terrible just an overnight layover. For all the upcoming trips I would be flying through Houston international airport in Texas as it is a united hub for South America and the Caribbean. It was substantially cheaper to book all my flights as round trips than trying to go from one location to the other, weird yes I know. Unfortunately didn’t have status yet so I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the lounges or anything for the next few trips, I was just star alliance silver which doesn’t get the perks of lounge access but got priority check in and boarding. The last time I went to Aruba was when I was very small and we went island hopping one summer with my mom, aunt, and cousins so I didn’t remember it to well from back then.
Arriving in Aruba was nice, the weather was hot and sun shining bright. It was still summer in Calgary, well ending, but the weather was good there however winter was looming around the corner. Upon arrival I was unfortunately not picked up from the airport which is something I am quiet use to despite submitting my arrival information. After some time and using the wifi I was able to contact somebody from the Trinidad team and the tournament organizers came and took me to the tournament hall where the junior team tournament was happening. I stayed there for a while to support the juniors. The rest of the senior team was to arrive the next day. The venue didn’t look terrible, definitely not the worst place that I have been to before. That night I got a decent rest and the following day me and Rahul (President of the TTBA), Navin (TTBA position), and one of the juniors Renaldo went to have an early morning practice at the hall. It was a good first hit in the venue and something well needed as the Senior Team tournament would start the following day.
I headed back to the hotel and rested for the majority of the day, venturing out for food and to explore a bit but didn’t stay out long due to the heat. That night the rest of the team thankfully arrived and we were relieved to see them. Team matches would start the following day and was in the format of men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. To win the tie you had to win 3 out of 5 but they would play out the entire tie for completeness sake. There was only 4 countries entered this year; Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Barbados, and Suriname. Every team was strong and it would be a fight right to the end. We played Suriname first and unfortunately lost 1-4. I played singles against Suriname for that tie. While Dom Rep played Barbados and won their tie. Next tie was playing against Dom Rep and we lost 1-4 yet again. This time I played both doubles and mixed doubles having 2 close matches. Suriname played Barbados and won their tie. This meant that playing for first and second place would be Suriname and Dominican Republic. Playing for third and fourth place would be Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. There was only 3 medals; gold, silver, and bronze nothing for fourth place.
Game day. It all came down to this tie against Barbados, either we would be going home with a medal or we would be going home empty handed. I played first singles and it was national champion against national champion. I was able to beat the Barbados player but it went 3 games because of my nerves and safe play at times. Next up we won women’s singles with Solangel winning in 2 straight. Then came doubles, if we won this match then we would win the tie and be bronze medalists at CAREBACO. Alistair and Will were able to beat out the other 2 players winning us the tie and taking it home 3-0. That was a good feeling to have gotten a bronze medal at least from the tournament which was a big moment for national pride and made me feel good about being Trinidadian.
|The medals that we got, they are actually pretty cool|
That however was not all that took place in Aruba, I was there for just over a week due to the amount of events I was participating in. there was a day where I did have no badminton due to the team tournament finishing and the international starting the following day. What better use of a day than to explore the island or as much as possible and within walking distance of the hotel. There were 2 shopping malls down the road which we checked out earlier in the week to find food but this was the first time that actually spent time walking through them and seeing what was what. There was a dock where the cruise ships came in and then just retail all along the strip since it was a very tourist heavy area. Located there was also a giant “I love Aruba” sigh which of course is the perfect photo opportunity and a must have picture. The walk to the mall/shopping area wasn’t terribly far maybe about 15 minutes but the heat is what was really the killer, it was also deathly dry there so not a good combination. The view however could not be beat, blue clear water just tropical paradise status, and was always a welcome sight. Not to mention very tempting to just jump in and go for a swim.
|Another Aruba sign and of course I needed to climb it again|
Talking about going for a swim and the ocean this was yet another trip where I was not fortunate enough to actually go into the water. Despite our hotel literally being across the street from the beach the most that I went into the water was up to my knees for a picture…but it was a good picture and the water was so warm. We did however spend some time hanging out on the beach both during the day and at night. During the night there was a food truck which came out and the food that they served was delicious. What better thing to do than grab some food and walk down to the beach. Listen to the calming of the sea and stare into the abyss of space seeing the sky lit up with the stars of our galaxy…alright if you couldn’t tell I enjoy space a lot.
|We spent a lot of nights eating at this food truck, it got lots of business|
With the team tournament over it was time for the senior BWF individual event to start as well as there was a junior international event happening too. The draws were late to be posted and we only found out the draw 2 days before the tournament was to start which is almost unheard of for international standards. This international was only a future series which is the lowest level offering no prize money, and very limited points. I had a decent draw playing against a Suriname player first round and then that took me into quarterfinals where I played a Jamaican player and unfortunately lost. This loss would cause me to leave Aruba the next day and focus on my tournament in Brazil which was a much higher level and offered a lot more points. Because of the tournament in Brazil I did not play men’s doubles or mixed doubles due to the time constraints of getting to Brazil on time. It would also be the next step in my new partnership with Matt for world championships qualifications so was important to get to and adjust to the venue. All that was left was to leave Aruba and fly back to Calgary for believe it or not a 5 hour layover before flying straight to Brazil. I know what you are thinking that is a major backtrack but it was insanely cheaper (over $1000 cheaper) to do it this way, also I would get a lot of qualifying miles for my United reward status so not a total loss. Just meant that I would be spending a lot of time flying and in airports, something that I have become accustomed to over the past few years. So now onto Foz Du Iguassu, Brazil for the 2016 Brazil Grand Prix.
2016 CAREBACO team event men's singles, me vs. Barbados