D Island Life: A Jamaican coaster ride!

Island life is one that has always attracted people from all walks of life. Tourists come from every part of the world to experience the supposedly carefree, rythmic, sea, sand & sun existence of the Caribbean. Yet beneath the seeming nonchalance, there is a life, a character, a savvy, a certain vibe that defines the West Indian experience and makes me proud to be a daughter of this collective soil. Having spent some time in Jamaica, I feel it is an absolute necessity to walk you through what is a typical morning commute for many Jamaicans. Please forgive the lack of accuracy of my patois! Here goes with some of my first impressions after the first few coaster rides (I am happy to report no recent sprains, twists or broken limbs:)

Dancehall music blaring from the radio, passengers screaming “buus stap”, “leh go”, “let aff” “ducta, ducta”; the conductor hanging out the speeding maxi bawling “down town” “alfwey tree” “run come mammy” while screaming to the driver “ROAD!!!” (meaning drive off); $20 coins jingling in passengers hands, with those standing have grabbed on to seats, roof, holder and yet still manage to sway in time to the music! The driver loudly converses with no one in particular, while it seems he’s testing every possible technique to crash the vehicle. Yet he too manages to “bubble” to the music, switch CDs, sight the occasional policeman and screech into every bus stop!

It seems Thursday however is a day of peace for coaster rides. I have decided it must be the calm before the avalanche of dancehall lyrics on Fridays. Last Thursday I hopped onto my coaster, fully prepared to lose hearing in one ear and lose control of my heartbeat but to my surprise – and delight – I got Thanksgiving Thursday instead! I was treated to every form of foot tapping, hair raising, soul balming gospel there is – for two (2) straight coaster rides! Lucky me:)

Mind you the soothing lyrics had no effect on the crazy driving, so I had to enjoy my music while standing, gripped to the overhead bar and trying not to fall out the window or door! So there I was enjoying de vibes for what could very well be my last ride before de afterlife! From my vantage point I started to look around to see if the other passengers were enjoying it as much as I was. Well they most definitely were! Curiously though, it seemed that the guys were more into it than the ladies!

There was one rastaman just behind me and I swear he was going to start church up in de coaster! He was flinging those locks, dancing and singing like nobody’s business! A lock or two almost hit me square in the face – at which point I was tempted to pull mine down and start flinging them around too. Almost like – brotha man you cant show me how to pelt locks – take that!! and oh yeah Praise God!!!! Then I thought better of it and just moved around by 1/16th of an inch – it was all I could do seeing that I was packed in like a sardine! Ah, what enviable morning bliss!

You just have to love Jamaica:) If after reading this post you still dont believe me, then do a search for “Two white women pon a minibus” Prepare to smile:)

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