David is my driver. Apart from taking me to and from work each day, David waits for me while I do my shopping (and finds me lots of different supermarkets for variety), locates cheap hire car deals, recommends the best ice cream on the island, and calls me every so often on the weekend to see how I’m going. He is the quintessential ambassador for the Bank, and you can tell he is proud to work there, and of his beautiful home, St Kitts.
David makes me laugh, does not take any crap, and he provides me heaps of insight into the Caribbean soul. He loves his cricket, and while the 20/20 has been playing here, has been ardently listening and headed off a few times to see the women’s cricket. Unlike in Australia, where women’s sport is regarded as sub-standard, the West Indians regard it as worthy of spending time following; in fact, David reckons they play better than the men. Although he supports the West Indian team (of course) he is disappointed in their performance, delivering his verdict on their commitment: “too much chicken and chips”. When I quoted David, someone told me that “chicken and chips” might be a euphemism for something else Caribbean men are famous for. David denies this: “No, mon, I mean chicken and chips. They’re too fatty”.
At the same time, he’s like my guardian angel and warns me to stay away from rasta guys and “don’t even tell them where you are staying”. In my first week, he instructed me “if you are somewhere and don’t know how to get home, you call me and I’ll come get you, even on the weekend”.
Each morning, I leap into the van David utters “Another day, another 50 cents. 50 for you, and 50 for someone else”, and he says it so often that we’re at the point that one of us starts the line and the other finishes it. David has a girlfriend of 5 years who works at the Bank, although he has no plans to get married, using as his justification the fact that Jesus wasn’t married and, if the Bible changes on this point, he’ll get hitched. Errr, David, I’m not sure I agree with the logic, mon. Speaking of which, he’s got me saying “Mon”, as in “Hey, mon”.
As part of his making sure that I see the most beautiful things on the island, one Friday after work, David took me to see this extraordinary sight: apparently the only place in the Caribbean where both the Atlantic (on the left) and the Caribbean are visible together on one island.
David knows when it’s going to rain or not, just by the location of the clouds. One day seemed particularly dreary and I foolishly made a bet with him on whether it would rain and, of course, lost; the clouds simply were not in the right place for rain.
He has showed me the place where the pigs cross the road like clockwork each morning and evening, in a line. Pigs are smart, he says. But he was upset the other morning as I spotted a dead pig on the road “People know that the pigs cross there. They should be more careful.”
David is, above all, a pragmatist. When we drove into Basseterre to look around, he pointed out Independence Park where they used to hold slave auctions, and the grills at street level, behind which slaves waited their turn in terrible conditions to be sold off. I asked him how he felt about that. David shrugged “It’s just something that happened. And if it hadn’t, I wouldn’t be living in the Caribbean, I’d be in Africa.”
And, of course, he’s teaching me the local lingo:
“Liming” means having an all round good time with friends, eating, drinking, hanging out. For example, “What did you do on the weekend?” “I went to the cricket, washed my clothes, and did some liming, mon.”
“Ivy” means “I’m going OK” as in: “How was your day?” Response: “It was ivy, mon”.
When I organised this week to rent a car during my stay here, David phoned his friend and told him to give me a good deal, and indeed he did. But he seemed bothered for a minute: “you don’t need to waste your money on a car during the week: you have me.”
There was no way I was giving David up; we have too much fun. So I replied: “Car or no car, you’re still going to take me to and from work every day”. David just nodded and smiled.