“But wait…You not a West Indian?”
This is the question normally asked of somebody who does or says something that the typical West Indian or Caribbean person wouldn’t do or say. In my case, it’s not being able to do what most West Indians can – which is, being able to tell north from south and east from west.
It’s embarrassing, but I’m just going to put it out there and admit that I am directionally challenged.
This island is a pretty small place, so when I visualize the map of it in my head, I know where certain areas are located. But stand me up in the middle of the street and ask me to face east, and I’ll ask you if I should turn left or right.
At my last residence, I had cemented in my brain the location of the north side of my house and of course, everything would fall into place after that. But I haven’t yet gotten my bearings at my present residence – and it’s been four years!
Yes, I know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, but that’s not going to help me in the middle of the day.
Don’t ask me for directions and expect to be told to travel south along a particular road until you come to the gas station. What I am going to tell you is to make the left over there and continue along the road until you come to the fork, veer left and continue until you reach the gas station.
If I’m recounting an accident that I happened to see, I can’t tell you who was travelling in an easterly direction or who was going west on Parliament Drive. But I can tell you that the car with the most damage was on the left side of the road and the other car came over there to join it.
Like I said, this island isn’t very big, and having lived here all my life (even with a four-year hiatus for college), I pretty much know where most places are. And if I don’t, just give me a landmark and tell me how many left turns to make.
It doesn’t matter if the car I’m driving has an onboard navigation system. It doesn’t make a difference if there are plenty of directional signs – unless they’re saying “left”, “right” and “go around this way”.
That’s why, sadly, whenever I travel overseas, I’m pretty content to take a back seat, enjoy the scenery, and have somebody else drive. Because that’s the only way I’ll ever hear the lady on the GPS say, “Girl – you have reached your destination”.