Zipping Along on the “Wrong” side

Returning home after a week of lounging on a white sand beach in Jamaica, enjoying rum drinks and gourmet meals has found me reflecting about life more than I usually do.  
I spent most of the week wearing a bikini and various t-shirts and sun dresses.  Coming home and slipping into my usual work attire was a reality check.  Somehow, I’d deluded myself into believing that the food eaten and the drinks consumed would have no effect at all on my bottom line.  After all, it was an all-inclusive trip, with all expenses paid up front.   Alas, the effect on the bottom line turns out to not be in my check book, but around the waist line.  
Its worth it though, I had my fill and now I’m ready to resume my regular life.  I can honestly say I’d do it all again–and often we can’t always say that when its time to pay up.  
We didn’t spend every moment on the beach or in my ocean-view room.  We went on a few outings and I found the experience eye-opening.  
Drivers in Jamaica may drive very fast, and crazy by American standards, but I didn’t see any accidents while I was there.  Of course, I also didn’t see drivers talking or texting on cell phones either.  
I was surprised we didn’t see many people on bicycles.  I signed up for a bike tour and realized why not.  With most of the neighborhoods built up the coastal hills, and most roads resembling our driveways, in all their various conditions from smooth to crumbling,  I would not have relished riding either up or down those hills from home to work and back again on anything less than the best mountain bike.  Even then, I don’t know if I could do it every day.  
The people of Jamaica use buses to get where they can’t walk to, unless they are fortunate enough to own a car.  
I gained an appreciation for building codes on one of these trips.  As we zipped by, I saw people going about their lives in what to me looked like the ruins of some fine  buildings.  As it turns out, these homes were under construction, not in a state of falling apart.  Most people are building with concrete now, after losing so many wood-frame structures to a hurricane years ago.  Still, the tradition of starting with one or two finished rooms, and adding on to a house “as you go” persists.  Concrete walls with rebar dangling out of the top or the sides indicate the builder’s intention for which direction the build will continue, but how long it will take to reach completion is hard to say.  
Few banks will lend to homeowners who do not have a steady monthly income.  Many people fit into this category, our guide told us, and so they pool their funds together to make progress on their builds.   I found renewed appreciation for our local niche banks that are willing to take risks to lend to farmers and business owners locally, even though income may vary throughout the year.  

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