March 15, 2011
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After the charter service looked over the boat, noting some minor damage from a docking accident on Mustique, their van driver gave us a ride to our motel in town. We dumped our bags in our rooms and wandered out onto the beach. There the hucksters and the hasslers led us along. Do you want something to smoke? Do you want to buy some souvenirs? We let them lead us to a bar and then a small outdoor market where a few dozen vendors were selling shells and spices and other souvenirs on makeshift stands. Most of the souvenirs were made in China with "Grenada" stamped on them. I thought about the factory where they were made, the shift leader getting his instructions in the morning. Grenada one day, Panama City the next, Santa Monica on the third. I bought some nutmeg and chocolate to take home. I found an old man who carved small turtles out of drift wood, and even though the quality wasn't very good, I bought one because it seemed like it had really been made in Grenada. He showed me one he was working on.
From there we made our way up to the bus stop and caught a jitney into town. There were about 18 people crammed into a little van. The locals didn't seem to mind putting their kids on their laps to make room for us. As the driver worked towards town, another man in the passenger seat called out hello's to people he knew along the route. When we stopped to pick up more, he would arrange seating or convince others to get off. Maybe he knew their stop was nearby.
The town was pretty, with dilapidated old trade buildings lining the curved bay front and red-roofed buildings climbing up the hills. There were forts on the hilltops, and someone told us one of them was now a jail. Pretty good view for a jail, we said.
It was mid afternoon and kids were making their way home from school. They all wore uniforms, the boys in white shirts and blue trousers, the girls in plaid dresses with white shirts. Their dark skins contrasted sharply with the white shirts. Many of them were heading to a small tunnel at the edge of town, where a small tunnel connects the harbor with the rest of the town just north. This Sendall Tunnel dates from 1894, before automobiles. It's only wide enough for traffic to move in one direction at a time, with just enough room on the side for people to pass back and forth in both directions. There are no lines or guard rails, but it seems to work out.
We ate dinner at a harborside cafe and watched a large cruise ship finish loading its passengers, then spin around and head back out the harbor.
On the bus ride back to the motel, the driver drove fast and played techno dance music loudly. The man in the passenger seat called out to the groups of men who were gathered in front of shops or gas stations or homes, talking or playing games. Women in pairs walked quickly in their flip flops, carrying plastic bags of food home. Some ignored the calls of the jitney's barker, others shouted back. When they did, they would all laugh. He knew which stop to let us off before we realized. He knew where we were going. We clambered down, and the jitney drove off into the night, the music playing loud and the barker calling to the ladies on the side of the road.