CaribbeanUS Virgin Islands

Busses and Beggars

By July 8, 2012 No Comments

If you need to get around St Thomas you can always get a taxi, but I prefer the local bus.  As a non local you will be approached by taxi drivers all the time.  Some of them are licensed taxis and others are called gypsy taxis (people in a regular vehicle).  I have been walking down the street or going into a store and asked if I need a taxi.  I was even asked if I needed one while I stood at the bus stop with a bunch of locals.  I mean give me a break if I want a taxi I would ask for one!

While a taxi cost between $8-$15 per person (you don’t get a private taxi) the bus, called a safari, is only $1-$2 and they are the same open air vehicles (the owners switch between a taxi and a safari throughout the week).  The safari starts at the university and follows the water front of Charlotte Amalie before heading to Red Hook.  It even goes by the end of the airport, but does not go to it since the taxi drivers want the tourist to pay them per person and per bag (don’t you think $4 for a carryon bag is a bit much?). If you don’t want to pay a taxi at the airport you can walk half a mile to the east end of the runway and pick up the safari across the street at the gas station.  There are set bus stops, but almost all the signs are missing, so you either have to know where they are, look for locals waiting, of just flag the safari down when it passes.  In other Caribbean islands the bus system is someone driving around in their car getting a couple bucks per person and is called a jitney.  The joke is how many people can a jitney carry?  TWO MORE, HOP ON IN!!!!!

One thing that amazes me is how laid back island life is…until people get in a car.  If someone in front of them takes an extra second to turn people are on their horn like it is a Mardi Gras parade.  I know part of the horn use is saying hello to someone you know, but there is also a lot of horn blowing used to relate someone’s frustrations.  Sometimes I feel like I am in a metropolis of several million and not on an island of less than 50 thousand.

A negative of not being a local is how often you will be approached for a dollar.  Just because I look like I came off a cruise ship (even if there is not one in port that day) does not mean I want to give a dollar to everyone I meet.  Yesterday I decided if I was asked for money I would turn around and ask them for some.  I only had to wait an hour after I came up with this idea to test it.  Needless to say I did not get any money.  If fact I think I was called a dirty name.  Interesting.  Leave me a comment if you are tired of people asking for money instead of working for it (even a street performer is working!).  Tell me where you are from and how you have been approached.

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