Monday, April 20, 2009

On the Bus - Caribbean Style! Part 2

You see names on buses all over the Caribbean. Some islands go in for it more than others, but they offer a good insight into Caribbean life.

In fact in Haiti they go far further than just naming their buses, They dress them up like circus lorries. But there is usually a religious slogan written on the front and side in Kweyol (Haitain Creole). Hey, it’s comforting to know, as you walk carelessly across a road that was empty a nano-second before, and look up to discover you are about to be run over by a super-charged gypsy caravan, that the last thing you read will be a blessing -

Béni Soit l’Eternel (Blessed is the Eternal Lord).

On one bus I saw the word Nissan written right underneath. Translated it would mean -

Blessed is the Eternal Nissan - not such a comforting thought to die with, unless you’re a Japanese salaryman possibly.

In most islands buses have a simple name, sometimes the driver’s nickname (most West Indians have them). In St Vincent recently you had the pleasure of nearly being run over by – or to be fair, getting a ride in -

Captain Sess, Rasta Ride, Freddy or Zion.

Or it might be Diplomat. Who knows how that got its name - a foreign ministry official turned taximan? His other car is a Diplomat? And Squeala? Does that come from the agonised screeching of his tyres, as he takes off to his next destination. Or was he involved in a B-movie and spilled the beans under torture. And what about the delightfully named Random?

Other names speak of the drivers’ (sometimes inestimable) self esteem - not to forget their driving prowess, no doubt -

No Fear! Shy Guy (yeah, likely), Xtreme and Rush.

And others are just plain surreal, but have a certain catchiness – no doubt they are the coolest bus in town –and therefore the one you definitely want to ride. What would it mean to ride in -

Code Red?

But my favourite name for a bus was always Not Guilty, Your Honour!, a bus that would ply its trade – or is that roar off in a cloud of grey exhaust? - along the west coast main road in Barbados. Perhaps it was a form of rebellion. You can just imagine the driver, in trouble again, standing in the dock,

"Are you, Mr John Smith, the driver of bus named Not Guilty, Your Honour? And did you drive Not Guilty, Your Honour at speeds without the specifications of the law? And have you anything to say in your defence…?"

The whole court would be in hysterics!

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