Leaving Antigua, W. I.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Grocery Shopping in Paradise

We've been trapped on our boat in a secluded anchorage for the last couple of weeks.  We've had tropical downpours virtually everyday, so going to town for groceries wasn't appealing.  We like the anchorage, because most of the time, there aren't any other boats around -- a rare thing in Grenada during hurricane season.  The downside is that shore access is limited.  There are a few private docks, but we think that being a good neighbor to the land-based folks means not intruding on their privacy, so we don't ask to use their docks.  We use our rowing dinghy to go ashore, instead of our rigid inflatable, because the rowing dinghy is more rugged, and we tie it off to the mangroves on a bit of bridge right of way.  Then we take off our shoes and wade ashore through the swamp, climbing up the bridge abutment to the road.  Once there, we have a short hike to a bus stop, where we can catch a bus into St. Georges, the capital city of Grenada.

The buses are actually small passenger vans, not as big as the SUV's that people in the States drive solo, and they are configured to seat 12 to 15 people.  When the bus stops, the conductor (Yes, there's a conductor on the bus!) slides the side door open and hops out to help you clamber aboard and find a seat.  Everyone scrunches up to make room, after exchanging polite, "Good mornings," or "Good afternoons," and you wedge yourself into any available space.  It's a chance to make personal contact, literally, with local inhabitants.  Personal space is an unknown concept -- everybody shares happily.  It's actually a pleasant experience that will restore your faith in your fellow man.  Once everybody is greeted and seated, the conductor climbs back aboard and the bus departs for the next stop -- often a few hundred yards away.  When the bus approaches your stop, you either call out, "Next stop, please," or, if the din of the radio is too loud, you rap on the ceiling.  The bus stops, the conductor hops out, and everybody willingly makes whatever accommodation in required to allow egress for the departing passengers.  When you get off, you pay the conductor, typically about the equivalent of a dollar.  It may not sound like it, but it's a surprisingly efficient way to get around.

Once we find what we need in the way of groceries at the various local markets in town, we head for the main bus terminal where we repeat the process.  Once back aboard Play Actor, we strip the packaging -- who wants to store all that cardboard -- and Leslie puts things away while I update our grocery database.  The database is important, given how involved shopping can be.  We have a lot of storage space aboard, but not all of it is readily visible, so it's important to know where the extra peanut butter was stashed.  It's equally important to know what we have and what we need, every time we go shopping.  More on the database next time…

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