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Random Experiences in St Vincent & The Grenadines #1
On the Buses
I love St Vincent and for me, one of the most entertaining things to do in St Vincent is to get the bus. I have yet to have a dull experience. I’ve had a few near death experiences, but that’s another story. I live on my sailboat and have been in St Vincent for 6 weeks. My boat is in a quiet bay, Blue Lagoon, about half an hour away by bus to Kingstown, the capital. This particular day started with a plan; get off the boat, away from my laptop and do a bit of the old social interaction thing. (My main problem with being a writer is that I forget that real people exist “out there”) I have many bad habits; smoking and drinking rum are my two current favourites. Fortunately, cigarettes and the local Sparrows rum are cheap, but I love a bargain and I heard tell of a place where you could buy them cheaper, half way from where I was, to Kingstown.
So my plan now had the detail, not only was I going to get off the boat and have encounters with people, I was also going to stock up on booze and fags. Before I could action my plan I did have to speak to a fairly tedious individual to find out where exactly I needed to go to. I feel bad writing that because he is a nice guy, he’s just gifted with a strangely monotonous voice, he could send you to sleep reading a Breaking News headline. Digression over, I got the info I needed and managed to stay awake so headed off to the bus stop. After 2 days in front of the computer, I was getting excited. I need to get out more.
You never have to wait too long. The buses are mini bus type vans and they have a driver (always helpful) and a young guy who takes your money and squeezes you on. I’m waiting, enjoying sunlight, when a bus stopped on the opposite side of the road. The “conductor” got out, stopped the traffic, came over to me and said, “we just going down the road then turning back, get on this bus.” I was in no hurry and I thought it would be an opportunity to see a part of the island I hadn’t seen before. Plus, I’m crap at saying “No.” The young guy stopped the traffic again to get me across the road.
I’m used to Caribbean ways now, Caribbean time is different to European time and down the road in this instance actually meant 30 minutes going down island. But it was very pleasant and the conductor pointed out places of interest to me, including the bar he goes to on Fridays, with a bit of a wink. I was flattered, he was about 18, I’m not! The driver was playing old skool reggae toons, songs I recognised and could actually hear the words of, all was good with the world. Or at least with my small bit of it. Eventually, we turned around and headed to where I wanted to go. The bus stopped outside the wholesalers and the conductor said, “Shall we wait for you?” I’m thinking, well… there are 4 other passengers on-board, they probably don’t want to sit on a bus, in the heat, waiting for me to fuel my addiction. And then the bus will be continuing to the capital, where I don't want to go, before turning back, I’ll have rum to drink by then. So naturally I said, “Oh no, that’s ok, get the other passengers into town.” He turnsed around and said something in Creole to the others who all murmured something in assent. So they waited for me!
Booze, fags and raisins were purchased – the raisins were an impulse buy, I’m not great at shopping – then back on the bus for another 15 minutes’ drive into Kingstown. Cherry Oh Baby was playing on the stereo with everyone on the bus singing along. The bus then did a turnaround before dropping me off where I started. All for less than £1! If you ever visit St Vincent, or indeed anywhere in the Caribbean, you have to try the buses. They are a fantastic opportunity to experience real life on the islands and I’ve yet to get the bus without having a story to tell.