Old people on buses
Published on June 6, 2013
If you asked me what I like most about Barbados, you might expect me to talk about the beaches, or the lush vegetation, or the hospitable culture, or the serious interest in cricket (the sport, not the insect, though I find the latter far more interesting to watch). Or maybe you’d think I’d refer to the ready access to local rum products at discount prices. But none of those are my favourite thing about Barbados. No, it’s a bit more complicated than that.
My favourite Bajan (Barbadian) sight is old people on buses. OK, that might take a bit of explaining. I’ve been riding buses here a fair bit. For a buck (Canadian) you can go from one tip of the country to the other.
Nothing brings a smile to my face as assuredly as being on the bus and having some old people to watch. When they get on, they are always slow. Each step up a victory. The first step is the hello to the driver. One more step and they look around the bus and laugh and greet others they know. The third step and they lean on the collection box and laugh about their infirmities. They get out their wallet and ever so carefully insert their fare. Then they sit down, with drama and flare. Of course, the bus will not leave until all are seated.
All the while they are carrying on conversations with others. Their faces etched with character, they are often dressed impeccably. Men in pressed long-sleeved shirts with ties that stand out in stark contrast to the pattern of the shirt. Women with cheerful hats that one would see worn at a coronation or a royal garden party. Or a punk show.
They are such bearers of culture and a way of life, you’ve got to enjoy them. There is laughter in their eyes. When the soul can no longer get the feet to dance, it gets the eyes to do it.
By the way, there are just two directions on the buses of Barbados – “out of city” and “to city.” (“City” refers to the capital city of Bridgetown.) We could use that in NL signage. The provincial government is cutting everything else, why not get rid of the four directions and go with just two? It would be far more efficient. “Out of town” and “to town.”
Kind of has a ring of familiarity to it, doesn’t it?