When walking by the bus stops of Roseau, drivers holler out to ask you "Hey, going Portsmouth?" "You want to go Soufriere?" The bus stops are spread out across Town depending on the destination. (Buses headed to Trafalgar meet by Astaphan's market; buses headed north meet by the vegetable market; those headed south gather near the craft market.) If catching the bus along its route, all I have to do is flag the bus down with a wave and ask if it's going my way, and whether I can hop on.
|roads of Roseau|
Many of the mini-buses and taxis have names stickered to their dashboards. Some display the driver's name : "Uncle Toney," "Eddie." Many invoke religious blessings: "Praise God," "The Lord is My Salvation" (the latter written in tiny print to fit across the window.) Others are beyond me to explain. I've started keeping a list of favorites:
Carrie's Favorite Amusing Minibus Names:
- Heaven Sent
- More Lonely
- Solid as a ROCK
- Get Use To It
- Lizard Lick
If you wish, you can try your luck at "riding" too, a.k.a. hitchhiking. Rather than putting out your thumb, extend your arm and wiggle your hand. Drivers may give you a honk or a wave to tell you they aren't going your way, but wish you well. Your best bet is likely to try flagging down a pick-up and hopping in the bed. Rastas seem the most willing to pick up riders as far as I have seen.
I have only tried riding while in the company of locals. I have heard that it is hard to flag down a ride if not a local. This may be because you are a stranger (small island means most locals recognize each other or know a friend of a friend or distant family member), but I suspect there are other feelings at play. To my other solo female travelers, I've been cautioned by locals that I should take extra care if riding alone, and often expect not to get picked up. Better to take the buses, many locals have told me. Personally, I haven't given riding much of a try, but I know I'd feel safer getting in a car or truck bed that was also carrying other women. I've found that ladies look out for each other almost universally. Of course, many men also look out for ladies, but I'm speaking out of my own experiences of how to look for safe(r) situations.
Using the minibus system has been one of the most obvious examples of the importance of my Grandpa's wise advice. When I left to go abroad he reminded me that two of the most important things to remember were patience and a sense of humor.
Sending you a smile and a deep breath,
(hopefully full of Caribbean breeze, and not bus exhaust),