"Caribbean Time"

You may enter a strange time dimension when you land on a Caribbean island.
Have Faith. Everything will get done.

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What Is Caribbean Time?

It's not that time really stands still in the Caribbean, or that it even runs backwards. Things just won't always happen as quickly or as precisely as you may be accustomed to.

This characteristic varies enough from island to island that each seems to have its own unique set of clocks. It drives many visitors crazy the first few days.

No doubt about it, "Caribbean time" or "island time," can be frustrating. After rushing to put things in order at work, dashing around to shop and then pack, and hurrying to the airport, many visitors arrive in the Caribbean in warp drive.

Some quickly get upset when islanders don't share the same sense of time pressure. Others become angry if locals don't respond as promptly or as efficiently to every request as employees or service personnel do back home.

There are two ways to deal with the situation--a situation none of us is going to change. Either adapt to it, or fight it.

Yes, your visit is on a time budget. You want to fit in as much as you can--but you also want to enjoy every activity as much as possible.


The best thing is to decompress from Western-style living and do nothing the day of your arrival except have something to drink, eat, look around a little and go to sleep early. You should wake up in a more relaxed mood. If you arrive tired and stay tired, your vacation may turn into a sour one.

Find out what the time flow is and go with it. Do things usually start 10 minutes late? Or is the average closer to 20 or 30 minutes? Or maybe--and this actually does happen on quite a few islands--real time is the norm.

The amazing thing is that if you don't try and fight the system, everything eventually gets done. Perhaps not in the way you expect, but it eventually happens.

After their first few days and after getting acclimated to the possible delays, many visitors to Jamaica quickly adopt the phrase "No problem" as part of their vocabulary.

And "soon come," another popular island phrase when things do not happen at the appointed time.

Islanders are used to impatient tourists. Anything you have to say to them won't be something they haven't heard before. And, don't ever forget, they are in the position of power.

As one local explained to me, "Here's how we work. Push, you don't get much. Take it easier, get much more."

And have a happier time, too.

Some visitors never do adapt to the concept of Caribbean time. They usually don't go back.

There is, however, a difference between poor service and doing things at a different tempo. Definitely complain about poor service.

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