One of the things I love most about Caribbean culture is that everything is loud – in every sense of the word. Audibly, people sing aloud to themselves and no one in particular; laughter is no giggling matter but rather, meant for the room to revel in; casual conversations can often sound like a spirited yelling match; unsolicited opinions on typically sensitive matters such as weight and levels of sexual attraction are never withheld. Visually, houses are painted in all the shades of the rainbow – pink with green trim, purple with red doors, yellow on yellow, anything goes; women color coordinate every last detail of their bright-hued ensembles from their nails, to their eyeshadow, to their jewelry; the local bakery’s cakes look like they’re made with Willy Wonka’s recipes – and dye kit.
In the US, for the most part, I feel like everyone is always trying to fit in. Originality of character is usually articulated with much more subtlety – a maroon door on an otherwise beige house is considered a “fanciful pop of color”; yelling aloud in excitement tends to be saved for sporting matches; people are partial to classic gray suits and little black dresses; wild colors and patterns in fashion are generally the mark of the eccentric.
I appreciate the sensory noise of the Caribbean. I like that people aren’t afraid to stand-out and show the world what they believe makes them unique. The general attitude is one of, This is who I am. Take it or leave it. It’s a confidence you don’t find everywhere – one that borders on arrogance but is too fun – funny even – to truly be received as such.
Among the many cultural expressions of individuality that has always caught my eye during my time in both the US and British Virgin Islands are the decals that people adorn their vehicles with. I don’t have my own car, though I often think I’d be downright embarrassed to be caught driving around with some of the stickers I’ve seen. But we’re in the Caribbean – loud and proud is where it’s at and it’s me who needs to perhaps buck up and snatch some of that abundant boldness for myself.
From what I’ve seen, the stickers of choice tend to fall into five categories: the religious, the sexual, the self-aggrandizing, the aggressive, and the difficult to decode. Here are some snapshots of Caribbean car culture on my rock, Virgin Gorda…
The Difficult to Decode
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Has anyone else noticed this type of vehicular personalization on any other Caribbean island? Or is this just a Virgin Islands treasure?
If you have unique car decal pictures from your island, share them with us on our Facebook page – we’d love to see!