One of the many feeds on my Yahoo News page (yes, I check Yahoo for my global news) featured the infamous Running of the Bulls in Pamplona Spain. Unfortunately 4 have been injured in this early morning’s running already :(. I’m not necessarily looking forward to the rest of their week, but I can’t help but think about how similar driving on Jamaican roads are to the Running of the Bulls in Spain.
There are 3 parts to Jamaica.
As a tourist you generally see the resort towns and the way of life on the north and west coasts.
If you’re a business person, you’ll see the urban chaos that is Kingston and/or Montego Bay.
But if you’re the adventurous type, you get to see ‘cunchy livin’.
Three completely different lifestyles as a Jamaican, and a visitor of Jamaica. But one thing is clear, wherever you go, whoever you are, whatever you came here to do, the roads . . . all the roads are the same.
From the roley-poley rollercoaster, to dodging potholes and manholes (two very different things although they serve the same purpose), evading the traffic police, and surviving the lunatic taxi and bus-drivers (aka the Bulls), driving in Jamaica has become a sport and is played by all walks of life, all over the island, whether you want to or not.
Sure we have pristine highways: those smooth dual-carriage ways that take us from Kingston to Ocho Rios, and all along the north coast. Nice nice roads for as far as they eyes can see. Mark you, they are often speckled with traffic police at every corner because once we see a nice stretch of smooth road, we haffi tek off and drive as faas as di cyar can carry we. But we know that they are there to ensure safety on the roads, cause some mad bredda (aka di taxi/bus driva dem) deh bout nuff nuff.
But for every meter of nice nice highway, there are more bumpy, holey, and chakka-chakka roads one has to contend with, everywhere! Once you’re off the highway, you buck up inna bumpy pot-holey roads, and you haffi dodge potholes, other drivers, and de taxi man dem.
Just driving down one of Kingston’s major road-ways, I’m reminded of going tubing down the White River in Ocho Rios. Tubing down the river was a fun experience: the thrill of almost capsizing, bumping into your fellow tuber, the race to the end of the river, being splashed by the cold water and the true awakening of the body through the adrenaline rush . . . whew! Fun times! 😀
Imagine experiencing all of that while driving down the roads of Kingston?! Whew! Not so much fun eh?!
The thrill of capsizing quickly turns into the fear of being run off the roads into the median or the side-walk and being flipped . . . Not Cool at all man!
Bumping into your fellow tuber translates into near-misses, scrapes often ignored, and the meeting of bumpers in the early morning traffic.
The constant race to the next stop-light as the person in front is obviously in no rush to go anywhere and so you (or maybe I) are compelled to circumvent them before the light changes to red so you can get on with your day without their interference and slow-driving.
Being splashed by the murky waters on the roads during or after any kind of rain, because there is no quick run off, and the water settles in potholes people fail to avoid, so they drop in it, and splash the next car.
In Jamaica, we’ve become accustomed to citing the splashing, the potholes and manholes, the taxi-drivers, and other lunatics on the road. For those running with the bulls, dem lucky is ongle di bull dem they have to contend with (just kidding y’all, I know it’s a dangerous activity, don’t know why it even occurs).
Imagine running from a dozen bulls on a narrow road way with potholes and manholes, puddles of nasty water, and other idiots who don’t fully grasp the idea of ‘running with the bulls’?!
To learn more about our different categories of drivers in Jamaica, check out this article on Caribbean Accents.