Friday, April 29, 2016

The Accident

Maxi - taxi
In the three years we have been here in the eastern Caribbean, we have traveled on land in nearly ALL manner of transport:  bus, mini-van, car, rental car, maxi-taxi, private car, taxi, pickup truck.  Sometimes just the two of us, sometimes with 17 others in a mini van meant for 12. 

Early on, we made the mental decision to just "go with it" when it came to ground transport.  Accepting the type and conditions of transport seemed like the best way to experience the "adventure" that ground travel often is for cruisers.  There are many times we simply MUST get somewhere on land via transport.  We can't be choosy about the method.  On some islands, the afternoon buses (mini vans) are also transport for the school kids so from 13:00 - 15:00 each afternoon each bus (mini van) will be overcrowded with school kids.  It's a given.  We can try to travel at a different time but sometimes we cannot.  Waiting for a less empty bus (mini van) may not be an option.  Other times, we can get into a maxi taxi that looks perfectly good only to find....or more like hear -once we start climbing some steep hills with curves.... that the tires are rubbing on the frame of the van.  Or riding in a similar perfectly looking van to near the end of your journey as you descend down very steep hills- that the brakes are literally smoking hot!!  D-oh!  Not much you can do about any of these things at the time. I said we chose early on to ignore the odd sounds, smells and overall conditions and pretend these are the norm.  Everyone else aka the locals seem to accept these as normal, why shouldn't we.

Surprisingly we have seen no actual accidents.  We've seen proof of them.  A newspaper article with pictures.  Close calls inching by other cars on narrow streets or tight curves.  And nearly all vehicles have dings and dents but up until now, we have not witnessed any accidents.  Until now.....
Yesterday we were coming back to Charlotteville from Scarborough on a maxi-taxi when we came upon an accident on one of the many curves in the narrow windward road where the hills meet the sea.  The police and *Community Comfort Patrol were already on the scene.  It looked bad.  However, there were no people left in the cars and no ambulance...yet so I think some of the people standing around were the drivers and passengers of the two cars.  Our maxi was stopped close to the accident.  Our maxi driver chatted a bit with someone standing near the accident.  I think it was one of the drivers or passengers of one of the accident cars.  In the mean time, the maxi taxi stereo continued playing 70's and 80's music at a healthy volume.  It was a tad weird watching this accident scene while Marvin Gaye sang "Let's Get It On" to us followed by Darrel Hall and John Oats "Private Eyes."   It felt wrong to be tapping our toes to the soundtrack of our youth while looking over an accident scene but we couldn't help it.  Normally we only hear Soca, calypso, and reggae.  After 10 mins or so we were able to inch through and continue on as directed by the police.  However, a big bus in the other side tried and failed to complete an Austin Powers style turnaround on that side of this narrow curve thus stopping traffic on that side and messing up an already loosey-goosey bus schedule.

After seeing this, our "just go with it" attitude was shaken a tad.  It occurred to me that if we got into a really bad transportation accident on one of these islands and ended up in the hospital that no one would know and poor sv Honey Ryder would sit all alone at anchor wondering where we were.  I started thinking that perhaps we need to be filing "transportation plans" much like we file float plans for longer passages.  Of course just as quickly as I thought of it, I realized how ridiculous that idea was.  Besides my ESS (Evil Sailing Sista) aka holder of our float plan would KILL me if I did that for every ground transport.  Nope, our "go with it" mode was working fine before.  We would just need to continue with that and the occasional stiff drink of rum after "especially adventuresome" land transport.       

*Community Comfort Patrol - we have NO idea what this is.  We have seen many official vehicles cruising around Tobago that say "Comfort Patrol."   Easter weekend one local DJ that may or may not have had a bit of rum commented (via microphone) on the Comfort Patrol as they rolled by the fete....."Hello Comfort Patrol.  You look very comfortable today."  That got a big laugh from the local crowd.  Sorry I didn't take a pic of one of the CCP trucks.

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