Where do I start? I guess I’ll try my best to work it out in themes.
TIME: As of today we have been on island and in the country of Jamaica for 6 months, 2 weeks, and 4 days. Depending on the day and mood we are in, this can either seem like a great accomplishment or a huge hurdle. You remember as a child being put on time out for five minutes (I did). This seemed like torture. Pure torture. Of course as a child I also felt cheated during recess. A 20 minute play time easily went by in a blink of an eye. This is how our days feel.
Somedays, I tell Michelle how amazed that we have lived in a new country for so long. We talk about all the things we have accomplished and learned so far and try to imagine all the things still waiting for us. These are the days we are thankful, cheerful, and optimistic. Of course, there are those days where my walk is slower, the energy and optimism zapped, and all I can think of is home, the one I left. These are the days where 6 months gone is really 21 more months to go. You start to dwell on doubt and questions, “Can we really do this for another year and then some?” These days go slowly and, interestingly, the days in which more chocolate is consumed in our home. Hmm…
And then there’s the whole concept of time from a cultural perspective; we’ve had to re-learn everything we knew about it. I never thought about how much time governed my life back in the states. Don’t get me wrong, time still governs our lives here in Jamaica, but in the total opposite way. In our old lives, we were always expecting things to happen at a specific time, expecting others to also abide to the unspoken rule of punctuality, and of course, learning to be accountable for our own punctuality.
In Jamaica though, things happen when they are suppose to happen. You don’t know exactly when, you just believe it will and go with it. Everyday I wait for a ride into town. I get out to the road within the same hour but never know when my ride will pick me up. Sometimes I can wait for almost an hour. Sometimes it’s as soon as I get to the road.
Meetings and events are like this too. You may get an invitation or flyer saying something is going to happen at 1pm. If it starts within the hour stated then it started on-time. It’s almost expected to start late and mostly, an accepted cultural norm. I’ve come to enjoy this aspect of the experience a little too much. I find myself at peace not feeling that I’m expected to be anywhere at a specific time with any particular sense of haste. I’ll get there, when I get there. Of course this is EXTREMELY frustrating on a professional level to the point where it’s simply comical. Meetings may or may not happen. Deliveries can be on their way for weeks when really it was suppose to get here yesterday. The local saying is, “soon come”. No actual details or promises, only that it will happen, when it happens.
Next time your boss in the states asks you for that particular project or super important information, just look him/her in the eyes and with your most genuine, almost laze-fair attitude say, “soon come.” (of course that is if you want to get fired)