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Tales From The Sailors’ Shopping Bus In Bonaire

Discovering the best supermarket in Bonaire is a mile from the dinghy dock and, in the 30C plus heat, pulling two shopping trolleys back laden with goods is not much fun, this week we took the plunge and used the free sailors’ shopping bus.  And what an experience that was!

Laid on by the local supermarket and with twice-a-week collections on Tuesday and Friday evening, we soon found out that there’s more to this escapade than first meets the eye.

Let’s start off with the bus etiquette, which we were quickly and helpfully tuned into by our fellow passengers when we arrived at the marina departure point.

  1. Advance booking a place on the bus does not give you automatic right to get on it. However, being at the front of the bus queue does!

  2. Those who are regular users of this bus have their preferred seat; so you can either be polite and end up squashed up on the back seat, or you claim a back injury so you too have a chance of the best seat.

  3. When it says ‘shopping bus’, what it really means is that it’s slightly larger than a people carrier and can take 12 (including the driver) and that’s without bags.

  4. Getting that all-important front seat means you can nip out off the bus first, grab the trolley and tear around the shop faster than Dale’s Supermarket Sweep. Meaning you are then at the front of the queue for the return bus. Yay!

  5. Mathematics time – On the return journey, the three back seats are put down to make a boot area. So there’s just about enough room to seat eight passengers with a shopping bag each in the boot – and one on your lap, if you’re lucky.

  6. Those still left in the supermarket now have to wait until the bus has done its return run…and come back to collect the stragglers.

  7. An absolute no-no, which we quickly discovered, is turning up with two extendable shopping trolleys. True, these will stand up in the boot and are filled to the hilt, however, it limits space for everyone else and makes you hugely unpopular!

Once inside the supermarket, pushing your trolley up and down the aisles, you pass your fellow sailors with a nod and a smile and an occasional chat, and it can turn into quite a social event, especially in the wine and spirits aisle!  Unless, of course, you are the ones trying to beat everyone else round in order to get to the front of the bus queue, in which case you keep your head down and avoid eye contact!

Who can resist a sneaky peak into someone else’s trolley to see what goodies they have picked up? After all, there are some tips to be had here as to what’s good to buy by those who have been here longer.

But just how much information should you pass across about your favourite wine or biscuits? As if your tips are welcomed, you may find the next time you go into this supermarket, all the stocks have been bought up and there’s no more shipments coming over from the mainland for weeks. Oh the dilemma!

To be honest, while we always enjoy a shopping adventure, this one got the better of both of us and was far more stressful than the normal planned trips using Shanks’s pony. I think we’ll give the shopping bus a miss next time. Walking around a supermarket at leisure and under no time pressure has just taken on a whole new meaning!

© Two Drifters Travel

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