Reggae and speed

A Grenada bus on the Carenage. Photo: Christopher Bancroft

by Christopher Bancroft

Colour defines the nation of Grenada, whether it is the turquoise water, orange cocoa fruit or the lush, green vegetation that has conquered the island. Vibrant houses occupy the hills while the streets contour the coasts.

The roads, about one car length in width are occupied by school children, vendors, chickens and dogs. All playing, working and generally occupying the sunburnt pavement of Grenada. All is peaceful on this little island until the faintest of sound starts to form.

This sound begins with a honk, rapidly becoming two, then three. As the car horn grows in intensity so does the sound of Marley; the continuous honking becoming the beat to a distinct reggae song.

The curiosity that characterises the barracuda begins to take shape within travellers on the road. Just as you begin to turn around to investigate the commotion, a brightly coloured bus screams past, missing collision with your arm by only inches, with the tenacity and swiftness of the same barracuda.

This is the Grenadian bus, and it serves as a critical mode of transportation for the citizens of Grenada. Colourful paint jobs and flashy decals make finding these buses simple. Filled to the brim with children on their way to school, businessmen commuting to the capital St George’s and the elderly heading to a neighbouring village.

Each bus, the size of a minivan has 2 workers; the driver and the bouncer (conductor). The bouncer’s job is to read the faces of people on the street, tell the driver when to stop, cram in passengers and collects the fees.

Each ride costs only EC$3 which equates to about US$1.30. Also known as, The cheapest roller coaster in all of the Caribbean. Although, if you are prone to seasickness, the money you save in bus fare will likely be lost to Dramamine.

Once the van is filled to the absolute brim, the driver takes over. It should be noted that all bus drivers in Grenada are genetic descendants of Cool Running’s bobsled team. These tricked-out buses push 80 kph through residential roads.

Flying past feral dogs as if they were spectators, honking and weaving through any obstacle that emerges, only stopping if a passenger knocks on the inside of the van. When a passenger gets off, the bouncer collects the money and slams the door shut. Then it becomes a 0–60 race till you hear the thud of another Grenadian’s hand.

In the process of adapting to narrow and congested roads, Grenadians created an exciting and economical means of transportation while incorporating the vibrant colours that embody this nation.

Grenada is a place of intrinsic beauty, from the rich jungles to the aquamarine waters. Although, to truly experience Grenada you must squeeze yourself in between two friendly Grenadians, listen to the Reggae and watch the fruit-filled coast pass you by at high speed. So look for the most colourful bus, flag it down, and once you take your seat, hastily grab the nearest grounded object.

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One thought on “Reggae and speed

  1. The Grand Poobah

    All sounds so charming and romantic but in reality they are like feral dogs fighting for a morsel. They have utter disdain and disregard for anything or anyone else on the road. This behavior is aided and abetted by the police who seem to totally disregard their stopping anywhere to pickup passengers and in a manner that the inevitably closely following buses cannot get past (nor anyone else). With Magistrate Seales now safely off the Bench one can only imagine the future. The Traffic Department seems so inept that they recently formed a “Traffic Advisory Board” of citizens to purportedly help them to do their jobs. Not a word has been heard again.

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