Honking: The Unwritten Code
Car Horns in Jamaica
My first time in Jamaica I thought they had the rudest road manners on the planet! My second time, after touring half the island as a passenger, I was enlightened to the entire unwritten code of the horn honk. My fourteenth time I became part of the road and in turn part of the code and it was rather entertaining! It happened almost by instinct that I honked at someone to say thanks for something.
Where I come from if you honk at someone it’s inevitably followed by flipping them the bird – I believe Elephant Man wrote the theme song for that (F*** You Sign). In Jamaica I think about 80% of the honks are friendly gestures of wha gwaan, thank you, likkle more (goodbye), etc.
In my driving experiences I did honk quite a bit and most of them were friendly hello’s and goodbye’s. One major honk I performed did not have the desired effect. It was one LONG, HARD desperate honk while I was parked against a wall and could only watch as the taxi van backing up behind me smashed into my back end. I think I laid on the horn long enough for the whole of Ocho Rios to know what was going on EXCEPT the dude driving the taxi. Then after he hit, he calmly put it back in gear and casually drove off. I sat there in disbelief and the ONLY reason I didn’t get out and unleash road rage on him is because I was afraid I might get shot LOL!
Anyways, I found a fabulous article in The New Black Magazine, which deciphers and uncovers the age old Jamaican honking code. Uncover the mystery of the language of car horns HERE.