As I walk by, sometimes I catch two Jamaicans looking at each other, “Where’s the fire?” I see in their exchange of glances. They’re wondering why someone might be in such a rush. From my perspective, as I walk around town, I constantly run into fellow pedestrians doing a slow, slow, shuffle. I’m a brisk walker and an energetic pace feels natural to me. And I have a learned, deliberate walk that comes from years of being in places where a single, expat woman is the target of every panhandler and cat caller in my path, so I walk fast to avoid their advances. The problem is that when others amble along in front, walk three abreast, stop to check their phone with no warning, light their cigarette, or just stop to smell the friggin’ roses– in the mIDDLe of the sidewalk – it can be a tad frustrating.
But, unfortunately, that’s no excuse. I know that I can’t be that foreigner who barges past and demands that everyone get out of my way. It’s rude, tacky, and after all, I’m in their space. So in addition to the uneven surface, crazy driver, dog poo and pothole radars, I need to add “slow walking person” to my calculations, so I can slow down a little before I approach the ambler, so as to not scare the bejesus out of them. They are, in turn, supposed to notice that someone is coming up behind them and step out of the way. But they often remain blithely unaware and I need to pull out technique two: “Good morning, ladies,” I say cheerily. “How are you?” “Good morning,” they say back, coming to a complete halt to search for something at the bottom of their bag. So, when that fails, there’s technique three: a hop, skip and jump up and down the curb (or between a gap in the fence) where I use my speed advantage to quickly nip around them. The problem here is that the aforementioned dog poo, pot hole or uneven road surface sits lurking at just the point where I need to do that little jig, just like a little unexploded bomb.
Is it worth it you ask? After all, island time is the call of all visitors to Jamaica who long for their famous “no worries” laid back vibe. It’s hot, take it slow, go with the flow. Why not stop and smell the Jamaican roses? Because there are no roses. Because the traffic light is about to change and that bus is going to blow toxic diesel smoke in my face. Because the corner panhandler has already spotted me, and I know the guy leaning up against the wall is planning on making me his next taxi fare. Ugh, no thanks. Gotta go!
7 thoughts on “I is for Island Time”
Jajajaja. Assimilation can be a bitch! What is the pace in Serbia!? I would imagine brisk to keep warm . And you’ll be dealing with shitsicals, which won’t be nearly as adventurous.
I don’t know. I guess I will find out!
Sigh! Some days the unpleasant gets to you, even when you’re used to it. Then you vent. Most days the natural beauty of the island, the mountains, the rivers, the ocean, the waterfalls, the food, the culture and warmth of most of our Jamaican people make it all worth while.
I know I don’t have to tell you that every country has its unpleasantness.
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Hi Donna. Thanks for your comment. Yes, Jamaica does have a lot to offer…you are very right. My problem is that my circumstances mean that I don’t get the option to go out and see it very often. It was not so much a vent as a snapshot of how things are sometimes. This A-Z is going to be a series of the good, the bad and the ugly… (NB: the next one will be pretty good ;o)
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I feel your pain! I have a naturally brisk walking style that even runs up against the pokey people not on islands, causing me, for example, to come up short on those moving walkways in airports that clearly say Stand Right, Walk Left, and you still have the chatters and the clueless who stand in the middle and flip through their phones. As I hem and haw and then pass speedily, I always know that I’m going to see these very people at my gate and they will know I was not rushing for the plane but am just an aggressively, annoyingly fast walker. I simply can’t walk at that plodding pace! But back to you … I think you have it worse there on your chill island. For me, it’s occasional; for you, it’s a straining against the entire pace of life!
I figured that Jamaicans walk slowly simply because it is hot. Also many Jamaicans walk pretty long distances (especially in the country part) so they pace themselves…
Yes. I’ve seen that in a lot of hot places. I think they think I’m nuts!