Bus Stop! At LtD Caribbean Sailing School
the conductor hollers as he hangs out the door of the Toyota van, barely slowing down. We have been waiting to hear the name of our village and finally our bus is here! We step to the street and signal to the driver.
The bus already has 10-12 people on board but I’ve counted 20 or more on a busy evening. The conductor orchestrates our seating arrangement according to size, weight and destination.This happens quick: one person hops out, you jump to the back, another scoots over, babies and packages are passed back and forth, the first person jumps back in again – like a human game of Tetris. In a country that prides itself in slowing down, I find this procedure a little ironic.
The Soca music is blaring and no one says a word except a loud “Bus stop!” when a rider is approaching a destination. The bus slows, the rider scrambles out pressing a coin into the waiting hand. Once I made the mistake of paying with the wrong coin and the conductor chased after me. I paid too much. The Barbados dollar I gave him was worth twice as much as I owed.
Riding the dollar bus is such a part of the culture on the islands. St. Vincent, Bequia, and Grenada all have a form of this type of transportation system. No schedule, no official bus stops and no route map. The names of the buses vary and you wonder about the message behind the names like Uncle Man. Con Quest and Blingie. The monikers are as colorful as the artwork on these people movers. If you see one coming, wave them down and be ready to jump in! Hold on, here we go!