Wednesday, 31 December 2014
Getting around Grenada
Getting around Grenada
There are several methods for getting around in Grenada,. The first obviously is walking, this can lead to alternates;
1) being picked up by a friendly passer by - the first time this happened to us was when we were waiting for a connecting bus and a local lady on her lunch break stopped. She knew that buses were not frequent and she would often pick people up and drop them down the valley. The second time was as we were walking up to the main road from the marina. A couple who had been working on their boat and we're heading into town picked us up and took us in too. So this is a good way of meeting people.
2) a bus will pass and squeeze you into a tiny space inside. The buses here work in zones, but will stray outside the nominal route to drop people at their houses or places of work. They do have regular bus stops, which have a substantial shelter, often sponsored by the local mobile phone companies, but they will stop anywhere. They will go out of their way to drop you off where you want to go if they are not full, but this may cost extra. Each bus has what we used to call a "conductor", but now refer to as a "packer", whose job is to ensure they pick people up from side streets or anyone who looks like they might need a ride. A bit like press gangers of old. They then make sure every small space is filled with passengers.
We have noticed that if you are smartly dressed, you will tend to be put in the front, even if this requires others to be moved from the front and squeezed into the back. The ride in the bus is always a thrill, as you go at breakneck speed, with the horn blaring as you pass slower vehicles and the emergency braking when a potential passenger is spotted or someone asks to get off.
Hiring a car. Darrell decided to go to the budget end of the market as car hire is quite expensive compared to other islands and we ended up with a Suzuki jeep. We should have been suspicious when we saw it had blacked out windows, due to the black acetate stuck on them and the numerous dings on the corners that were duly recorded. Parrot, the young man who showed us the car after quickly tidying it, asked if we could cope with a stick shift, we replied "we're English" and he just shrugged with a smile. However, Darrell found it was more like stirring a pudding trying to find a gear and reverse was always a case of pot luck, usually failing a neat engagement when the car was half way across a busy road! The clutch bite point was when the pedal was about one millimetre away from fully out. Parrot then drove us to the police station so the Darrell could get a local driving license, stopping to put some petrol in on the way. He asked us for advice that we would give young people today and we discussed how he feels his country does not do tourism very well. Needless to say all of us have same opinion of Sandals resorts, although he was more scathing on how they have a deal for thirty years tax free in Grenada from when the resort opened this year. They bring in all their own supplies and the top jobs within the resort are all held by Americans although the rest are locals. He didn't like to think that politicians would be taking backhanders to give this sort of deal. But he really didn't like the way the island is portrayed, with the cruise ship and resorts guests not getting to see the best cultural, geographical and historical parts of the island, as they do their ten minute stops at places.This feeling of local animosity to the way tourism is handled has been noticeable on several of the islands, when we have spent time talking to locals as we explore away from the main routes.