Buses here on Grand Cayman are 12 to 15 seater mini buses. What we would call taxis back in South Africa. Here we have the luxury of air-conditioning, licensed drivers with relatively safe driving skills and no excessive overloading. The buses are all independently owned, usually by a Jamaican, and each driver puts their character into their bus. Going anywhere costs you just $2 and the buses run from about 5.30 in the morning till about 9 at night, depending on the day of the week. Being independent there is no set time table which is very annoying when you need to catch a bus. When you don’t you’ll see 2 or 3 buses pass you continually.
There are very few bus stops, so to hail a bus just stick out your arm and they will unfailingly screech to a halt to pick you up (if they’re not already overloaded in which case they’ll usually flash their lights). To get off just shout “One stop” and have your 2 dollars ready.
There is a set bus route, but some drivers will charge you extra to take you to your door. The bus comes right past out front door and then does anything from a 20 to 40 minute route through West Bay district, before heading down the main road to Georgetown. This “tour” can be very frustrating if you have to get into town quickly.
I used to take a bus at 6 am every morning and would invariably end up in the “hairstyle” bus (marked on the windshield). This lady driver “Anne” is a real character and changes her hairstyle to suit her mood or the season. She had Christmas lights and tinsel in her hair during the Christmas period, which flashed on and off. Very festive. She will go from dreadlocks to peroxide blond over a weekend and recently has been wearing mini notebooks and pens and pencils in her hair. I never seam to have my camera when she is on duty. After a while she got to know my stop and there was no need to shout “An – one stop please!” (An seams to be the Jamaican for Anne). Her regulars will hide in the shadows and wait for her bus to come along. She even phones some of them and picks them up from outside their homes if they oversleep. I now start work later so no more “hairstyle” transport and I do miss her shortcuts through West Bay.
The music played on these bus trips is very varied. Stations range from Country & Western to Gospel and everything else you can imagine. More popular is the sing along gospel and often the bus passengers will hum or sing along. Actually it’s quiet nice in small doses.
It is customary to great fellow passengers when you enter the bus. “Good Morning” is the easiest anything before 12 noon. “Good Afternoon” from 12 till about 4 pm. “Good Evening” from about 4 till it gets dark. “Good Night” from sunset till morning, I suppose. I never get it right.
I saw this sign in the bus the other day and it prompted this commentary.