Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Caribbean Living

With November (and my three month anniversary of living in the Caribbean) fast approaching, I decided that it was time to share some of my thoughts and observations regarding "the easy life" in Paradise.

When most people think of the island life, they probably imagine all-inclusive resorts with jet skis, drinks with umbrellas in them, and duty-free shopping.  That is not the real Caribbean.  While there are definitely places like that on pretty much every island, it is not the norm.  Just remember that Jamaica, with all of it's natural beauty, and squeaky clean resorts, has the highest per-capita murder rate in the world.  The real Caribbean is better, and worse than you think.

Amanda has spent some time discussing a few of the negative aspects of island living, but for me the "real Caribbean" is even better than the TV version.  I don't think most people here would recognize an alarm clock if one fell from a mango tree and hit them upside the head.   Most people get to work when they're ready and everyone takes a lunch break.  People bring strange fruits and vegetables to work, and hand them out to friends and strangers alike. People you don't know honk their car horns and wave as they pass by.  Hitchhiking is common, because its safe -- you don't have to worry about who's giving you a ride, or who you're picking up.

I'm lucky enough to work in a place where on every Friday after work, a few of the guys bring in coolers full of beer, whiskey, and whatever else you can imagine.   They lounge around outside, either on a bench or on the ground or they sit on car hoods, or old rusty drums, and the party goes on for hours.  And everybody is welcome, whether you're a local, a tourist, a politician or janitor.  Saturdays it starts around 11am, only this time with pork, chicken, or goat on the grill, and a five gallon cook pot full of Conch or Whelk soup with dumplings.  

It's not that everything is better here.  Just some things.

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