Back in the States, a trip to the grocery store involved a hop in the air conditioned car, a short hop to ONE store, where you could buy anything you could ever need, and then leisurely make your way home.  Be done in about an hour, usually much quicker.  Here things are a bit different. 

First you need to take your dinghy to the rickety dinghy dock.  Secure the dinghy, and make your way down the dock, which at high tide, parts will be under water.  Climb a short uphill trail, sandwiched between a fence and the side of a car and come through a chain link door.   From there,  another walk, about a block, where you wait in the sun for the public bus #2 (van) to barrel over the hill, the sound of its horn usually signalling its arrival before you see it.  If your lucky, you get the bus with the good music.  If you’re really lucky, it won’t be full.  From there, you can do two things.  Go all the way downtown to the bus station, and get your fresh fruits and vegetables from the nearby fresh market, or get off half way to the bus station, walk a short distance and catch the #1 bus going to Spice Island Mall and the IGA grocery store. 

If you go to the IGA, you need to take the #1 bus back to the bus station and catch the #2 bus to go back.  Of course, the IGA never has the fresh vegetables you need, so you walk about 4 to 5 blocks (in the heat), down to the other grocery store called Food Fair and try your luck there.  A normal shopping trip usually includes some walking, a minimum of 2 buses,  at least two stores, and several hours. 

Your reward at the end, is the bus station.  Here you are herded back into the vans.  But the vans don’t leave half full.  They don’t leave full either.  PACKED TO THE GILLS, is the preferred.  The vans have five rows, including the row in the very front with the driver.  Normal seating would be, 1 person plus the driver in the very front row.  Next row 3 people, next row 3 people, next row 3 people, and the last row 3 people.  13 people plus the driver very comfortably.  But comfortably is not what they are going for.  The driver will wait until the van has 18 or 19 minimum, plus the driver and the money man. The money man has the interesting job.  He squeezes people in, rearranges everyone for maximum occupancy and takes your money.  The bus will wait at the station until it’s full.  If you get on early, you wait and sweat.  If you get on late, you become the one they use to squeeze in between people. The price is cheap.  $2.50 EC (about a dollar US) and the kids ride for $1.25 EC apiece.  Even when you are squished in, the ride (if you got the van with the good tunes) is usually relaxing, and a great way to see the countryside.  Plus, the people are very nice.  All in all, it’s not bad, just tiring.  But it’s what we have to do to live in paradise.

 Oh, and by the way, only the white people sweat.  The islanders don’t.  Luckily for us, the islanders don’t sweat or smell.  Unfortunately for the islanders, cruisers do!!!!  You can’t even see us and the two other people in the back row