Riding a bus in Grenada
It is not a Suicidal Gesture
10 things you always wanted to ask about riding buses in Grenada, but were afraid to ask:
Reprinted from Caribbean compass magazine, in 1999, article by Ray Goodwin, S/V Beauty and the Beast. (Without permission)
1) How do I know a bus from a taxi?
Easy. Taxis have air conditioning and are full of tourists while buses have the windows open and loud music blaring out of them. Buses rely on their speed to for air conditioning while Taxis, with their load of two or maybe 3 very pale tourists, actually have a working air conditioner. Taxis also cost ten to twenty times more.
2)What are the qualifications of a driver?
The driver must be young, may have long dreadlocks, have supreme athletic abilities and knowledge of the roads in order to dodge cars, people, and animals, not to mention the ability to pass and driver on roads built for one car only. He must also have a abiding love of loud reggae music.
3)How many brakes are there on a bus and which is used first?
You probably didn't know this but there are two: one the driver uses his foot to apply and the other he uses his hand. And of course the hand use of the horn is the first "brake" that any self-respecting driver used first.
4)How fast do these buses go?
Right exactly on the edge of going to fast for the conditions of the road yet fast enough to scare the living daylights out of you the first time you ride one. There are occasions when the driver will slow down: such as when he wants to check out a pretty woman or when the he is communicating with some one with the horn. One sure way that he will drive slow is when he has a pretty girl sitting next to him. He wants to prolong the experience as long as possible.
5)What are the qualifications of the conductor? (you know the guy who takes the money)
Vast mathematical skill for sure but certainly the ability to make change and keep track of who has paid while careening down the highway looking g for more passengers for an already full bus. But the most important qualifications is a very narrow behind. After all, the seat he sits on while hanging out of the window in pursuit of filling the bus, is often taken by someone, and he must merely jump in a squeeze into what ever is left.
6)Will I be able to take my propane bottle to the filling station.
No problem mon!
7)How loud will the music be playing?
the rule of thumb for the driver is to turn the music up until to where it just distorts and then turn it back down just a bit. This will allow to your enjoyment of some very good reggae music to to be bouncing around in your brain for a long time after you have gotten off the bus.
8)do I pay when I get on, or when I get off, or at some other time?
Not to worry. Pay any time you are not holding of for dear life or when the conductor (remember ,he is the one with the smallest butt) is not looking out of the window at some backyard or for more passengers to squeeze onto the bus. So that makes it probable that you will pay when you get off. And don't worry about being over charged. It just doesn't happen (unlike the Taxis -Ed).
9)So how do I let the driver know where or when I want to get off?
That's an easy one. Just rap on any metal part of the roof or side often bus. But remember to knock precisely between the the drumbeat of the reggae music or you will miss your drop.
10)And now for the big question. How many people does a Grenadian bus hold?