Grocery Shopping, Cruiser Style
Grocery Shopping, Cruiser Style
You might call me a "glutton for punishment." Much like the time I schlepped 60 gallons of water to our boat manually, it is not unusual for me to take on semi-overwhelming tasks just for the sake of giving it a go. It is also not surprising that, most often, these undertakings occur while Scott's away and I am in single-mom mode. It's like I want to prove to myself that I can get by just fine on my own so I create these ridiculous challenges that make most people question my sanity. Like strapping my twenty-something pound baby on my front, heaving a sixty pound backpack of groceries on my back and jamming myself into a local bus, whose internal temperature is approximately 110°.
Grocery shopping, while always something of a "chore," is significantly more of a chore to the live-aboard cruiser. First of all, none of us have cars and if there is one thing that make grocery shopping convenient (other than Peapod, of course) - it's four wheels and a trunk. Not having a car leaves us a few options: 1) walk to grocery store (anywhere between one and five miles, typically) and cart groceries in a collapsible wagon or cart or 2) Take public transportation and lug around groceries the old fashioned way: in bags. Because I have a toddler in tow and therefore prefer to do things as quickly and efficiently as possible, I opt for number two.
I have written before about the public transportation system here in Grenada. It's good. It's privately run, therefore efficient, and super cheap. Can't beat that. So I strapped Isla into the ERGO carrier, grabbed my giant Gill waterproof grocery backpack and headed for the bus. The busses (which are actually converted mini-vans) zoom up and down the streets, honking like mad with the "conductor" hanging out the window whistling and yelling to try and lure more passengers. They pack 'em in like sardines because - just like the busses I have experienced in every developing country I have ever been - there is always room for one more. Combine the sweating bodies of ten to fifteen people (half of which on our last bus were particularly overweight) in a vinyl seated bus during the midday sun and the only word to describe the smell would be "ripe". I appreciate the drivers who make an effort and hang a little pine tree air freshener from the rear-view mirror to help stave off the stank, though it's about as effective as fighting a forest fire with a squirt gun.
So Isla and I hop into the bus, which incidentally, she loves. She sits on my lap, silent and mesmerized, watching the passengers get on and off, listening to them chat exuberantly, eyeballing the world as it whizzes by while we zip and zoom around all the turns. I have often thought that on a fussy day, I might just hop on a bus and ride it for a few hours. That's how rapt she is with these 'excursions'.
But, like all public transportation systems, there is a catch. And here in Grenada, it's the music. It's horrible. Awful. Aggressive. Loud. It's called "soca" and it is the music of the islands. Try as I might, I just cannot bring myself to enjoy or appreciate this noise (and just like that, I officially sound "old"). Every bus blasts it louder than necessary and it actually huts my ears. I would kill to hear some nice, gentle reggae - heck, I'd take Kenny G. over soca - but this is a futile battle. So I grit my teeth, plaster on a smile and bounce my knee to the awful beat, because if you can't beat them, join them. But I digress...
So Isla and I are packed into the bus like pickles, heads pounding withe soca music, and when our stop comes, I knock on the bus wall to signal it to stop. It does so almost immediately and after I wiggle my way out between the fellow passengers, I drop my coins in the conductor's hand and Isla and I are back in the fresh air and the welcome noises of car horns, barking dogs and yelling people. We walk the two blocks to the grocery store, chit-chatting the whole way about how nice it will be to get in the air conditioning.
The store here is an IGA, a Canadian chain, which means it carries food from the motherland which is why we sometimes make the extra effort to shop here as opposed to the local grocery chain, Food Land, across the street from the marina. I put Isla into the shopping cart (another activity she thoroughly enjoys), bust out my shopping list and hop to it. When we finish twenty minutes later, I have a semi-full cart and the creeping thought that maybe this wasn't the best idea overall. But we're here and this is happening.
"Are you sure you can carry all that and the baby?" the nice checkout lady asks me incredulously as she eyeballs the gargantuan backpack. The awesome bagging boy has managed to cram all our goodies into the one bag and for that I am grateful. It easily weighs sixty pounds. "I'll manage" I reply with an unconvincing smile. I put Isla back into the carrier on my front, bag boy helps me heave the giant pack on my back and out the doors I walk with the legitimate thought "I'll bet I shrink a quarter of an inch today".
Of course on this day, I don't see a bus right away which means I am forced to walk until one passes. Sure, I could stand around and wait for one to pass by me but I am, by nature, an incredibly impatient person and if I'm not making any forward momentum to wherever it is I am going, then I get all antsy and agitated. Best to keep moving. Because the pack is giant and overburdened, it bangs the back of my legs as I walk so Isla and I limp, Quasimodo style, down the road in the scalding hot sun until for about a quarter of a mile before I hear the welcome "beep, beep" of the #1 bus. We hop in, both of us sweaty messes, and for the rest of the ride home I play the "who or where IS that stench coming from?" game. (No, it was not me).
Our stop arrives. The conductor lobs the pack back onto my back and Isla and I walk the short distance back to the boat, where I get both her and the giant bag on board. The time that has passed is two hours exactly. I have just enough energy left to unpack before Isla and I both go down for a much needed nap.
So while I might be a glutton for punishment, I would not be above a service like "Peapod for Cruisers" should one surface. Just saying.
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Scott and Brittany departed in 2010 with big plans to "see the world" from the deck of their sailboat. After sailing from Chicago to Trinidad via the "thorny path", they are now back at it with their first baby and second boat. Check out all the juice at http://windtraveler.net.