What is a “Caribbean Lifestyle”? Is that really a thing? Does it mean living in a relaxed, laid-back, carefree way? Or is that just another one of those ridiculous misconceptions about Caribbean islanders?
In truth, we can consider the “Caribbean lifestyle” an actual way of life. However, it’s not confined to mainstream ideas about what living in the Caribbean is like. That’s because not every Caribbean country is the same. Nor is every Caribbean person the same. In addition, there are so many different cultures that influence the population of any given Caribbean island.
Nevertheless, we have to agree that living in the Caribbean is different than living in, say, the United States or Europe. Here are some of the key differences:
Differences between Caribbean countries and others:
- A large percentage of the Caribbean population lives in small, tranquil towns in which people lead a slower-paced life. Many inhabitants of the Caribbean do not stress over arriving a few minutes late, or they may not even put time constraints on engagements at all.
- Not everything is available instantly. Many Caribbean islands rely on goods shipped in from other countries. Therefore, stores might not always have full shelves. But hey– no worries! That’s just another good reason to buy and eat local.
- Eating “fresh” is usually the norm. This is another result of imported merchandise in Caribbean island countries: boxed and canned goods can fetch a higher price. So, you could consider fresh caught fish and freshly plucked fruit part of the Caribbean way of life.
- Islands with smaller populations tend to have many close-knit communities in which “everyone knows everyone”.
- The inhabitants of the Caribbean are used to sharing their space with people of all kinds of cultures, whether they are tourists, expats, or natives. Due to the influence of colonialism, the Caribbean is truly a “mixed salad”.
- Caribbean people tend to value family very highly. Extended family members often live close to each other and spent a great deal of time in each other’s homes.
- Those who live in Caribbean countries generally love to celebrate! There’s always something going on, whether it’s a national holiday, a family get-together, or dancing and dining with friends. Of course, not every person is cut from the same mold. Nevertheless, Caribbean countries celebrate some holidays, like Christmas, for a bit longer than those who live in the United States. For example, in Puerto Rico, the “Christmas season” takes place from December 24th (Christmas Eve) to January 6th (Three King’s Day).
- Furthermore, most Caribbean countries have more public holidays than North American countries. In fact, Trinidad and Tobago ranks 4th on the list of countries with the most public holidays. (The United States isn’t even on the list).
Separating fact from fiction
The bottom line is, it’s difficult to understand the “Caribbean lifestyle” is you’ve never visited the Caribbean. Things are not always the way they are portrayed in movies or on TV!
The best way to separate fact from fiction is to visit several Caribbean countries and spend time with the locals. You’ll find that each Caribbean country has its differences, as well as its similarities, with other Caribbean nations.
For more information about Caribbean culture, read: What does it mean to be Caribbean?
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