Transportation in Jamaica…

is a trip! [pun intended] I just returned from my “shadowing” experience. This is when the Peace Corps has each trainee go to a work site and shadow an existing volunteer. I was sent to a town called Accompong, a wonderful and beautiful town. The population is about 600-800 and it is located in what is referred to as “Cockpit Country.”

A large part of the shadowing experience was to give us experience using public and private transportation. There are public buses as well as privately owned buses. All of the taxis are privately owned. There are two types of taxis: route taxis and charter taxis. Charter taxis are what we have in the U.S. – you hail one down and it takes you and only you to your destination. The route taxis hold 4 passengers and the driver does not leave until it is full. Hence, this is why it’s important to leave plenty of time to get to where you need to go 🙂

You typically pick up the bus at a large transportation center. When you get there, you are “greeted” by several, competing “ductors” (conductors) who are trying to get you to go on the bus they are the ductors of. They will guide you towards their bus so you need to be sure you know where you are going!

These buses seat 4 people in each row but the ductors will continue to load people until there are 5 people in each row…yes, it gets very intimate 🙂 A couple of noteworthy comparisons between the U.S. and Jamaica are in order here: 1) The bus will stop on the side of the road if you need to go to the bathroom! I didn’t, but it’s good to know I always have that option; 2) The fare is collected towards the end of the route. The ductor goes row by row and people pass their money up to him; 3) When the bus stops, vendors get on the bus and sell you fruit, nuts, juice bags, sewing kits, you name it…and you can buy it 🙂

To get back to Stony Hill, my training site, I took two taxis and two buses…all told, it cost me $US 13.72. Travel time: I left Accompong at 9:30 a.m. and arrived in Stony Hill at 1:45 p.m. Not bad for $13.72 🙂

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