It was my tough chore to introduce several Caribbean islands to OpenStreetMap this summer. Mainly Dominican Republic, but also the Isle of St. Lucia, and Anna forayed to Cuba. Finding digital mapping data for the region is difficult, and nothing detailed is available in the G-Y-M apis. Yet many of these places are sized on the order of the Isle of Wight, and with the huge tourist industry in the region, this map data is valuable.
Our first venture outside Santo Domingo was to Cabarete, a few hours drive on the north coast of DR, one of the top kiteboarding spots in the world. We arranged to stay at a really cool beach bungalow, in a small area called Perla Marina (there’s no marina actually).
The map above was our guide to our destination. We got lost.
It appears to be drawn in Microsoft Paint. It contains several missing streets, drawn in with pen. What appears to be the beach front is actually just a crossroads. There’s no landmarks, and the geographical scale is completely off. Obviously MSFT Paint is not the right tool to make maps .. but it shouldn’t be at all harder to make maps than to draw I think.
We spent about a half hour driving around the neighborhood with the GPS, and got the track above (loaded into the JOSM editor). The line running across the bottom is State Highway 2. There are streets missing, due to out of control security concerns; there’s a guard & gate at the main entrance, but apparently some streets don’t trust that, and they have another guard & gate at the street entrance (and each house has its own security as well, .. and the heart of each occupant is locked away, locks within locks within locks *sniff*). I marked waypoints at each guard house, generating incredible suspicion in the process.
There’s also a huge tree along the main road of the neighborhood, an excellent landmark.
After making segments and ways in JOSM, I downloaded the data from OSM and ran it through osmarender, which is responsible for producing some very professional looking maps. I didn’t have a lot of time to tweak the output, but this map of Perla Marina is really taking shape. The red dots are gates, the green dot marks the distinctive tree, and the blue dot is the beach house.
See, it’s not so tough being a mapper.