Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Grocery Shopping, Cruiser Style

It looks absolutely NOTHING like this.
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 Gil 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 in a vinyl seated bus during the midday sun and the only word to describe the smell would be "ripe".  At least on this particular bus, on this particular day it was...

As much as I love the bus system here, of course 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 start the short trek to the Spiceland Mall, where the IGA is.  We chit-chat 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.

10 comments:

Jim Bond said...

Best soundtrack I ever experienced on one of these bus rides was on a bus named "Patience" on Nevis. It was a Perry Como Christmas Album... in June. Very surreal.

M. at Making Sense of Cents said...

Definitely sounds like a lot of work!

horizonstar said...

If you are in Soufrie, St. Lucia give Jones Abraham a call for your local transportation. He is a beautiful blue-black guy who only plays country western music in his van.LOL

Kim said...

What is the point of pointing out that half of them were overweight? Are overweight people stinkier than thin people. That is insensitive. I realize this is your blog and you have the freedom to write whatever you like, and for the most part I enjoy reading about your lifestyle, but I feel that you are judging others the same way that others have judged you. I don 't care that you have a different lifestyle than what I would choose for myself, that is what makes you interesting to me. But I don't think it was a nice comment to write on your blog and judging overweight people is no different than the lady who judged you for how you are choosing to raise Isla. Please don 't take this as an attack, just an observation. (Personally I think life experiences do more in growing and teaching children than just about any thing and you are giving her some pretty amazing experiences). On another note grocery shopping without a car would certainly be hard for me since I live in a rural farm town without a grocery store! I think if I ever get to experience living on a boat I will try the cart method.

Windtraveler said...

Kim, you are right - that was (unintentionally) insensitive. It was just an observation and made the ride just a little more uncomfortable. I have edited that. Thanks for the gentle nudge and reminder :)

Kim said...

Hey thanks for responding and feel free to delete my comment as well now that you edited the post. I am not overweight myself and I didn't take a personal offense to the sentence, it just struck me as insensitive. Sometimes written words have a way as coming across a different way than we may have meant if we were speaking them. Blogging is a catch 22 of sorts in that you are sharing your personal experiences and journey with any one who happens to come across your blog and finds you interesting enough to read. It takes a lot of courage to share your life with people you have never met. I don't agree with people criticizing others choices and lifestyle, if they don't like your lifestyle they should not read your blog. I guess I just want to clarify that I respect your lifestyle, and my comment was meant purely as an observation. Thank you for your kind response and thank you for writing your blog. I do not have a blog (used to but since having kids I just can't fknd the time!) or facebook or twitter, I really don't do much online, but I read a handful of sailing blogs because I am interested in sailing and I love learning about sailing and cruising. I am a mom to two young children and I love reading about Isla and your cruising adventures. Your days with your sister look and sound so wonderful. Don't feel too bad about the whole anniversary thing, life is crazy busy with little ones and changing schedules and it is easy to see how you missed that. Anniversaries are not as important as we make them out to be, you are a great wife 365 days a year and that is what matters.

B.J. Porter said...

If you stay on that #1 past the IGA it will take you eventually to CK's Valueland on the right, before the next rotary. It's a bulk sort of place - you can't get fresh stuff there. But it's a good place for staples, canned, dried, drinks, and some refrigerated and frozen things.

The best part - FREE delivery if your order is large enough. I'd call them to make doubly sure they deliver to St. George though, we're in Prickly Bay and they don't bat an eye. If you have smaller quantities of refrigerated/frozen stuff than that is all you need to schlep back to the boat.

It IS on island time though, yesterday the delivery was supposed to be between 3:00 & 5:00; at 5:25 we called them and they told us "we're working on it now."

I don't know if any run from St. George, but from the South anchorages there are Shopping Buses several times/week. $10 EC, and they stop and wait while cruisers shop and have the back cargo area around for holding stuff.

Suburbs to Sailing said...

Wow, sounds like an adventure! My husband and I just recently became live aboards on a Lagoon Cat and have found that even the simplest tasks take so much more effort on a boat. Take your morning coffee for example. Back on land, I would have just popped in a k-cup in the old Keurig (starbucks, of course!) and, presto! An good cup of coffee in an instant! Now I have to turn on the propane, turn on the breaker for the stove, heat up a pot of boiling water, then let the french press do it's thing for a few minutes. By the time I actually get around to drinking the coffee, it's 10 minutes later. However, I do get to enjoy it while watching the sun rise over the Chesapeake Bay. That alone makes it all worth it :)

LOVE your blog! Keep on keepin' it real!

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Cindy Dy said...

This is a great article for my research. Keep posting. Thank you.

Bob
www.gofastek.com

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