Amanda talks about her daily journeys to and from work … and how she’s “starting to feel like a local”.
“The trip to work on the bus and wandering through Castries City has become the norm for me now. Yesterday I stopped to remind myself this is a temporary lifestyle. One that I will look back on with fond memories. A reminder to absorb the sights, sounds and feelings… and this is what happened…”
The first people I always see as I walk to catch the bus are the street traders at the end of my road. The rasta selling his own made paintings and carvings.. he sits in a man made wooden hut.. always says ‘Good Morning Miss have a blessed day’ and on the way home always enquires ‘How was school today?’ Ten steps on are the mother and son team with their own stall, selling jewelery. They always Greet me too… as does the old rasta guy who sits in the shade on the other side of the road… often shouting compliments like ‘I like your dress Miss’ The area they sit in stinks… I don’t know how they cope with it. It’s where the sea meets the land and lots of rubbish has been dumped.. full of reeds and empty plastic water bottles. They are usually always there, 7 days a week from around 9am until it’s dark. I see them wheeling their stock through Rodney Bay in suitcases and on a barrel.
The buses are small mini vans with a sliding door. Some have air conditioning and some don’t. The driver never leaves the stand until every seat is full. The driver doesn’t care if you are the middle person on a 3 seater and the last person that boards is 22 stone… they squeeze up next to you… this is when you pray for a breeze through the open window and sweat profusely until someone leaves the bus. The radio is always on full blast, favourites being Reggae, Country and Western or a polital or social debate. You have to shout ‘Stopping’ or ‘Bus Stop Driver’ (very loudly) if you need the bus to stop to get off. Then hand your change over through the passenger window to the driver. Everyone getting on the bus always says ‘Good Morning/Afternoon’ and as a passenger, we all chorus back ‘Good Morning/Afternoon’
The walk through Castries is always entertaining… men do this noise with their lips, which is a compliment. A kind of extended loud kiss noise to grab your attention. Others are more direct.. ‘I love you’, ‘It’s me your looking for’, ‘You look lovely Miss’, ‘When can I take you out’ I wonder if I’m looking shite if it doesn’t happen, which is rare. Opposite the indoor market the street traders sell their fruit, vegetables, fake trainers, coconut oil on the pavement by the ghetto. Every now and then someone wheels along a barrel full of freshly caught fish. You pass people walking along selling lighters, cucumbers…anything really. Further on the walk I see the mobile phone fixer, with his own little street stand. The traders pay $3EC a day (about a pound) to have a stall. Yesterday 2 large cruise ships were docked and the city was full of tourists wandering around. If I ever see one with a decent gold chain around their neck I always stop them and recommend they take it off ‘to be on the safe side’ One part of me thinks I should just leave it alone because I don’t want to scare anyone, but the other half always imagines ‘What if that were my parents’? I will never forget seeing an old lady crying who had just had hers snatched… that’s my motivation.
I’m somehow starting to feel like I fit. It’s a small place and easy to get to know people. I get a buzz when I hear someone shouting ‘AMANDA’ as they drive past in their car and wave. I love it that my local barman beckons me in for a chat on my way home, how the shopping mall security guard always waves, how the cleaning lady from my old apartment came to find me, how the kids … tell me they miss me at C.A.R.E.
find out more about the project where Amanda is working … Amanda’s placement is focused on developing entrepreneurial skills with young people in the C.A.R.E. programme