Monday, January 16, 2012

People Watching

A fun daily visit over to "Pearl, Why You Little..." got me thinking about people watching.  Pearl has the best stories of her encounters on the bus commute to work.

It's really too bad it's not acceptable to photograph strangers just because we find their faces fascinating.  I'd have a huge portfolio of mugshots worthy of Coffee Table Status by now if I could.  Like Pearl, I love watching people, listening to people and making new friends.  Travel makes it even more likely I will add new faces to my collection, because there are always new ones just around the corner.  I met four very interesting people today that I want to introduce you to.

This morning, The Captain and I had errands all over town in Freeport, Grand Bahama.  Coming by boat means we have to rent a ride for town excursions.  Our delightful taxi driver, Lakecia, had plenty of opportunity to share her life story with me as we sat in the van for over two hours, waiting outside the telephone company, the lumber and hardware shop, the office supply store and the electronics gizmos place while the man did his thing and us women had a good chin wag.

34 years old, Lakecia has been driving cab for 6 years.  She is a single parent of two and cares for her little 9 yr. old sister.  When she's not working, or at church, she is on the hunt for a husband.  The current matrimonial candidates are a 45 yr. old taxi driver she met at the taxi dispatch center, a two-timing brick layer who left her for another woman three months ago, and one of the "brothers" from her prayer group.  Her kids and her mother adore the 45 yr. old taxi driver with the big gut, but the church leaders do not approve of him.  I'd love to be around long enough to hear the outcome of this complex relational puzzle.

On the rounds, we stopped at a roadside stand, where Lakecia purchased two bags of peanuts.  She hadn't had breakfast yet and lunch hour was fast approaching.
-Hey, Johnny.  Git me some white nuts, two bags.  None of dem brown ones likes you gat me yes'day.  I no like dem brown ones, no way.

Yes, the official language in the Bahamas is English.  I often wonder what language people are REALLY speaking when the lingo gets fast and furious, slurring into a patois that leaves me in the dust.  What I miss in translation, I often pick up thru volume, gestures and facial expressions.  He shot her a big smile and handed over two bulging brown bags one usually associates with penny candy.

Johnny sports a full head of Rasta braids, twisted into a knot in the back of his head, and spilling over the collar of his leather jacket.  A colourful bandanna completes the do.  His face can't handle any more hair, as his beard is a designer special, dangling down to the middle of his chest.  Now Captain wears a neatly trimmed, all-white beard to rival Santa Claus.  I have nothing against a nice beard.  Johnny's though, was a one-of-a-kind--never seen anything like it, ever!  A series of ponytail elastics was evenly spaced out, bunching up round balls of beard in ever smaller circles of tight curls, ending in a curlycue.  Truly unique.  I wonder if his coif helps attract business, or does it warn off the competition?

While searching out a replacement charger for our Bahamian cell phone, I spotted an old lady.  She was hard to miss.  It's a cool winter day in the Islands and she was dressed for the weather.  Under her navy blue, felt slouch hat, her purple wig shot out from her bespecaled-face in scary angles. A tiny, stooped woman, she was almost swallowed up in a baggy jacket that hung to her knees.  Her ankle length skirt high-lighted the stockings pooling around her ankles and her ballerina flats with plastic bows on the toes.  Her wooden cane in one hand and a heavy bag in the other, she navigated thru the heavy front doors of the establishment.  I know it's impolite to stare and the Captain always pulls me away when I wander off following rabbit trails, so I had no chance to figure this lady out.  Is she a regular visitor to that shop?  Do people know her there?  Is she as crazy in her speech and thought process as she is in her personal attire?  She is one lady just WAITING to be interviewed and written up!

On to the BaTelCo office--the only one on the island--and a 40 minute wait in line to be served.  At last we were ushered into the cubicle of a very beautiful young lady.  There was one chair by her desk for customers.  I sat down with a plop.  (Cappy TOLD me not to wear those platform heels.)  The Captain GOT DOWN ON ONE KNEE to be on the same level as her desk and proceeded to give her the litany of our non-working cell phone.
-Looks like you are proposing to the lovely lady, I said.
-Proposing to get his phone working, for sure, she responded.

Even a stranger to the culture can pick out the educated, hard-working women who hold down good jobs here.  This beauty had her own hair (no wig for her) pulled back into a neat coil on the top of her head.  Her impeccably penciled eyebrows and colour-shaded eyelids spotlighted her oval face.  Her trim figure filled out a fitted two-piece suit.  The skirt's little pleats along the hemline flared as she walked sedately across the office in her four inch heels.  The jewelry at her throat was complimented by matching ear rings.  In her quiet, efficient manner, she worked her way thru the convoluted bureaucracy of the national phone company to make things work for us.  Captain was very impressed:
-She really stuck with it and worked hard to make it happen!
-I guess it was because you went down on one knee to beg for help!!!

The one thing I most enjoy about travel, is meeting new people and learning about the culture I am visiting.  There are so many people out there just waiting to make friends and share their stories.  Yes, Pearl, every day is a good day when we exchange smiles with the world.


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