If you have ever journeyed to a Caribbean destination and ventured out of their comfort zone, you would know that it is a very economical and pretty efficient way to get around in most destinations. Whether it is the mini van with the jump seats or the sedan, this type of transportation is often used by locals and travelers alike who do not want to spend an arm and a leg on a taxi and are not in a rush to go anywhere fast (more on that later). However, it should be said that there are a few key rules that you must keep in mind prior to taking the leap and joining the locals. I like to call it my top four rules for riding success.
- Mind your manners – With the exception of a few Caribbean destinations, it is customary to greet the other passengers upon entry into the vehicle. A simple Good Day/Good Morning, Good Afternoon, or Good Evening will suffice. Failure to do this simple task will draw stares, cause teeth sucking, and you may even be called out for your poor manners.
- Have your money ready – It should go without saying, but commonsense will tell you to know the fare for the ride prior to boarding. There are several Caribbean destinations where the US dollar is widely accepted; however, it is important to not only know whether or not you can pay in local dollar or US, but to also have the exact fare ready. There are some maxis, taxis, and local buses that will make change, but many will not. From my experience sometimes you pay when you reach your particular drop, but other times you pay upon boarding. Therefore, exercise the Girl Scout rule and “be prepared” when you first board.
- Speeding, what’s that? – So, this is the part I love. And, well… maybe I should have listed this first for the faint of heart. While this is not the Indy 500 or the Autobahn you are on, it may feel that way from time to time. Whether standing (yes, sometimes on the maxis you many have to stand) or sitting, grab a hold of something and don’t let go. Time is money and the drivers make sure that once they start rolling, they run a tight schedule. So, that may mean quickly over taking a stopped vehicle, cornering curbs like they are on rails, or blowing through an intersection. It is all a part of the experience. If you are the type who prefers a driver to drive the speed limit and need to be safely strapped in, local transportation is DEFINITELY NOT an option for you.
- Introverts will be converted – So, this is something that I had to adjust to when I first started taking the local transportation. As I said before, time is money and drivers will pack people in like sardines in a can. So, if you are the type who “likes your personal space” and “don’t want to be close up” on anyone, local transportation is DEFINITELY NOT an option for you. There have been a few occasions where I have been so squeezed up on a person that I thought I should have tipped them for the lap dance I was given on the way to the destination. Again, this is a part of the experience. Just make sure your breath is fresh and your hygiene is proper and all will be well.
All in all, taking public transportation is a great way to get around. It saves you money, if you are budget traveler or simply do not want to be taken for a financial ride with the “tourist” taxis. It also is just a good way to interact with the locals and see some interesting sites along the way. There is another little tidbit regarding local transportation that I neglected to mention, but… it’s all a part of the experience. You will just have to find out for yourself.