Weh yu seh?

In Port Antonio again today.  Overall my experience at this site has been much less busy than at Annotto Bay or Port Maria. It is a 2 hour drive from the resort so usually by the time we arrive it is around 10am, and ward rounds are generally over. I find that we don’t get many patients (max 1 or 2 each week) by the referral appointment system here so I end up spending most of my day in the A&E, which is still quite enjoyable.  And Port Antonio always signals the beginning of weekends with family, so really no complaints whatsoever. One thing struck me today, which I hadn’t taken much notice of in the past 3 weeks.  In my entire time here I don’t think I have used standard English in more than a handful of my conversations with patients. Occasionally I find myself starting off in English and then subconsciously lapsing into Patois, when I truly need to make myself understood.  The same goes for my interaction with almost all of the Jamaican staff too – nurses, other doctors, drivers, people at the resort, everyone.  Its quite refreshing and relaxing for me, but I am curious as to what it is like for non-Jamaicans who volunteer. Communication of basic concepts in English would certainly not be a problem, but I wonder how many of the nuances and subtleties of patients’ stories get lost in translation. It makes me wonder what gets said and understood and even more importantly what is left unsaid and goes unnoticed. RH

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