I have traveled many places in the world from trucking 2500 miles a week across North America to traveling to Europe and the Caribbean. My Mother worked for the airline for her career and so many vacations as a kid were spent traveling to the Caribbean one of her favourite places. I have to say the the island of Barbados has become an annual destination for my wife and I as we try to escape from the bitter cold and snow of Winter. We now spend months on the island and have become what I call “local tourists.” Our friends have also been coming so long and for so many years that we don’t consider ourselves tourists, but we aren’t locals. Some come to the island and see the beautiful beaches and nothing else. Others come and see the garbage left behind and poor conditions of the roads and nothing else. Others see the party life and drink as much rum as they can. We see the people, values, and lifestyle of the people. We have been coming so long that I see much more from this island and others in the Caribbean about life that we all should remember.
In North America life is go go go! Go to work, go pick up the kids, go shopping, go to meetings, life is fast. Because our lives are always going at the speed of sound our services have been expected to meet that demand. We order in a restaurant and expect our meal within minutes. We call people and expect an answer right away. The biggest lesson I have learned on the island is patience. Island life is much slower than at home and it can take a while for you to adjust and accept it. The saying is, “No one moves fast in the Caribbean.” Often we judge their service by our standards and expect them to jump but if we look at the money they make and other factors of a Caribbean lifestyle we begin to understand that the motivation may not be there. Of course not everyone is like that on the island but it is an adjustment that many from overseas struggle to understand.
I have to work on my patience every time I come to the Caribbean because life is so fast paced at home. I get a little better each year and it has also helped in my projects at home. I used to think of a project and then get right into it. Now I have learned to think about a project and let it rest for a while. That has helped in making my projects stronger when they are developed and much of that is due to learning to be patient.
Courtesy and respect are something that is diminishing in North America. Everyone is in a hurry and their lives seem to be more important to than the person next to them. People will stop their cars on the island to let someone cross the street. You can’t wear a sleeveless shirt into a government building, and people stand for the National Anthem automatically upon hearing it. On the bus kids will offer a seat to an older person and in all my years I have never seen someone try scam a driver on the island. Oh the island isn’t perfect by any means but there is a lot of respect for tourists and others on the island.
So if I can offer any solutions to those whom may not have been to the Caribbean is stop to and enjoy life on the way. Rushing to the destination may get you there faster but you may miss the beauty and life lessons along the way. Many folks say, “I would just love to sit on a beach and do nothing.” That’s because of the peace and slowness of time on a beach. You need to get on island time and some how bring that home. Live life along the way, it may not be what you expect at the destination.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a creative entrepreneur helping to inspire others. He produces two podcasts, has a television show, author of five books, and is a professional cartoonist. He lives in Burlington Ontario Canada and loves the Caribbean. You can learn more about Bruce and his work at www.bruceoutridge.com