Sunday, March 13, 2016

'Bus'-ing the truth

Yep, that's a Mexican bus!
Jamaica has some large, yellow buses that are used for public transportation. These vehicles always sound like they're either hawking, coughing, sneezing or spitting. The journey can sometimes be an exercise in religious conversion: you start off expecting a peaceful ride to your destination, but by halfway, you get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that leaves you with an urgent need to get right with your Maker ... just in case.

Mexican buses are like the smaller cousins to that. Riding in one of them is like taking a roller coaster. Especially when there's a sharp stop. You jolt forwards and then rapidly backwards. You could get whiplash (a neck sprain). Don't get me wrong, sometimes the ride is quiet, sedate, peaceful. But there have been days when I was forced to remember that turbulence doesn't happen only in the skies.

I remember for one busride home, two toddlers got on with their parents. They all sat on the back seat. For the entire journey, their squeals of delight echoed through the bus as they laughed and shrieked every time the bus made a stop or a jolt. It was great fun for them, and I couldn't help smiling as I reflected on the innocence of children, and how something that was an inconvenience to most adults was wildly amusing to them. When they finally got off the bus, giggling and shouting in Spanish to their parents, the bus felt sadly quiet somehow. Even the jolts didn't seem as pronounced without the little squeals to punctuate every occurrence.

In moments like those, I realise the universality of humanity. That is something that could have easily happened in Jamaica, or, I imagine, the United States, or Australia, or China. That could have happened anywhere in the world because kids are kids, no matter where they're from. They're precious, innocent, amusing, affectionate and honest – before we teach them otherwise.

And, by extension, people are just people. No matter where you go in the world, you will meet comedians, jokers, tricksters, lovers, worriers, warriors, discriminators ... they're everywhere. And that's why I think I'm not too caught up in how I'm received when I go to new places. I understand that people are people the world over. And even if I'm meeting one particular sort in one place, I know other sorts exist there.

Since I've been here, I've met many wonderful people. I've met people who like my sense of style; I've met people who are crazy about Jamaica (I'm just starting to understand how truly significant that is); I've met people who are just generally nice to everyone, so it really doesn't matter to them where I'm from. And I've met people who are not any of those things – not crazy about Jamaica. Not crazy about black people. Not crazy about me. Maybe just crazy :).

The point is, the longer I'm here, the more similarities I see between my culture and here. And the more I appreciate that this is a universal truth: we are all more alike than we are different.

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