Inside Number 9 This must be just like walking through paradise

Wednesday in Grenada. I've got an idea: let's not do tons of walking only to be foiled by itinerarnt ruminants, eh? Plan. But first, breakfast with the departing Canadians. I eat starfruit, something I previously only thought existed in Fruit Ninja on my iPad, and it's very nice - though not as nice as once again the greatest goddamn scrambled eggs in history. We're told that, if we like, Helen can join in with the preparation tomorrow to learn the not-so-secret recipe.

Once we're suitably covered in suncream it's another walk into Sauteurs, both of us feeling a bit stiff after yesterday, and the weather feels noticeably hotter. We take the nice corridor along the beach, emerging next to FULL THROTTLE BAR opposite the car park full of Toyota Hi-Aces, i.e. the bus station.

The first guy fails to hail us because we don't want to go to St George's. "Wander into the waiting hut, looking lost and white" serves us well. "Grenville?" "Yeah, well, no, Pearls Airport" "OK get in" and we're away. Well, we're sort of away. There's one guy sitting in front of us with a sack full of ... something ... and that's it. We hang around for a few more minutes waiting to see if anyone else wants to get in, then slowly work our way through Sauteurs.

Buses on Grenada are great. Each one is privately run by a driver/conductor pair, plying one of a handful of routes across the island. Everyone drives a Toyota Hiace minivan with some convertible seating that fits up to about 16 people, and the conductor is responsible for hailing passengers rather than the other way around. There are proper bus stops - in fact, there are tons of them - but there's really no need to wait at them unless you're desperate for shade or happen to be right next to one, because they'll just stop dead and let you on wherever you stand.

So, our number 9 grabs a few more people off the street, then parks at a bus stop next to a school for about 10 minutes, waiting for people to show up who want to go our way. A few get on, but not enough, so once we leave it's still a very slow drive through what might qualify as outskirts, still pimping for riders. Everyone who gets on says "afternoon" to everyone, because that's a really big deal around here: you greet people.

It's more than just a bus, really. They're postmen and couriers and OAP transport and tour guides and etc. At one point we pop up a side road and someone recognises the conductor, who jumps out and hands him a bag full of stuff. Elsewhere, the man in front of us sells a bloke running a chicken stall some food bags. At Sallee we reverse about half a kilometre down a street to pick up a very frail old lady from an old people's home (I guess?). At each stop there's a kind of passenger tetris being played, with several people moving seats to accomodate the size, shape and frailty of each passenger in tandem with their destination.

After picking up the (very) old lady, who boards with a mighty "afternoon everybody", we're now full – so it's full on pedal to the metal screaming round the hairpin bends up and over the hills, with the island's number one radio station blasting out very loud bass thumping soca. It's sweltering hot and fantastic fun for us tourists. At Tivoli about half the bus gets off and we can spread out a tiny bit, until peeling ourselves off the leather seats and handing over our 8 EC a few minutes later. The conductor points us down exactly where to go to reach the airport, just follow the road round.

This is Pearls Airport. It's disused, sort of, by which I mean it's no longer used as an airport. It does seem to be used as a road, and possibly a Fast and Furious style boy racer track. There are numerous vehicles driving fast towards us, though not in any dangerous kinda way.

The airstrip is bleak, and around here we were expecting to find some rusty old plane wrecks but there's no sign. Must be up at the other end I guess. We start walking down, it's very bloody hot and, oh, what's that, right in front of us? Don't take the fucking piss...

Bleurgh. It's another moody cow. OK so the nearest cow isn't particularly moody, and it's on a rope anyway (cow well strung), but with stray dogs around plus goats and, in the distance, lots of other - potentially unstrung - cows, and worst of all no sign of any planes, we're not particularly bothered about carrying on. Besides, we've seen the derelict airstrip, which is neat enough.

There is a side road which parallels the strip but actually there are even more animals in our way down there, and what's more this is exactly the area where the Canadian couple told us their car got rammed by a cow. So, fuck it, let's make our way back to the main road and head to the sea a different direction.

It's a decent walk. Nothing is particularly beautiful, nor perilous, we're just walking through sleepy villages, one of which is called Paradise. (Village, not city). I'm desperate to belt out a Dave Lee Roth, Guns 'n Roses and Meat Loaf medley. There are rare signs for a political party other than the NNP, and lots of exhortations to vote for a particular candidate including VOTE KATE LEWIS FOR MORE SOCIAL NETWORKING.

Anyone we walk past, or look over at as we pass their house, waves and says hi/afternoon. A man carrying a large black sack full of stuff drops it by the side of the road to go over and help another frail old woman get up the steps to her house.

At the roundabout we turn left and walk into Simon - the name of a village - and pass the first thing we've seen which actually qualifies as industry, except for the other village called Industry we went through on Monday.

Now, we were told about this place called By The Sea, down near the airport, by the hosts at our guesthouse. Apparently a nice place to eat and drink, so down the little side track towards that there sea and oh, hello, this looks like a fucking great little pub/restaurant.

Walking in, there's a handful of people all arranged around a very large table, and the woman at the bar speaks ever so softly asking if we want lunch. We do, and would like to sit outside, so we pick our seats and she comes over with menus and asks for drinks order. She's no longer speaking softly: indoors, those people were having a Rotary Club meeting that we barged into.

We'll have two beers please, thanks. She brings them over and sits down next to me. "It's hot, right?" "Yeah. Well, actually, is this hot?" "What, this? Nah, not at all". Thought as much. We each order the house burger, which is properly homemade and very nice. Helen's first bite is accompanied by the phrase "well that's one less bloody cow to worry about".

We have to finish it indoors because it starts to rain. The Rotary Club meeting is still going on and someone is being chastised for answering their phone during it. The rain passes very quickly, so we go back outside and have another beer. We didn't order dessert, which is a shame because the options looked excellent.

"Can I have cake with icecream?" "No"

The sea has been bringing in shitloads of seaweed, such that the beach isn't a beach and the estuary of the river next to us has been clogged up 'n all. We're told this is unusual, which is good because it sure bloody looks unusual.

Tag team visits to the loo give us a chance to talk to one of the venue's owners, a very friendly lady who plays massive tricks with our eyes and ears: she's a white German lady speaking English with a massive Caribbean (though still tinged with German) accent. Suddenly I feel a little less guilty about finding myself saying "the" as "de" over the last day or so.

I try to convince Helen we should make another attempt at visiting the ruined planes because we're quite close to them again, but affected by the heat and fear of hoofed wildlife she vetoes it. Instead, we're going to catch another bus, since much to our surprise we had discovered that they come down here as well as ply the main roads. Sure enough, withing seconds of getting to the end of the track a bus hails us: "Grenville?" "Yeah!"

He's going the wrong way, mind, but we don't care, and this turns out to be one of the greatest public transport escapades we've ever been on. The bus is mostly empty when we get on, with one very young pre-schooler next to the conductor and another adult sat in front of us. Up and over the estuary bridge and around the corner, the child is lifted onto the pavement and gently pushed towards their house, we wait until they've waddled to safety before setting off... past the airplane wrecks! Holy shit!

These are Soviet planes. Why, I don't know. If you visit them you can apparently clamber around inside them, but we likely wouldn't have done that anyway. Especially with that goat over there.

Beyond the planes there's a few more houses, a police station, and then we hang a right and drive straight across the damn airstrip. Seriously this is way more fun than actually just wandering around it. On the other side, the local schools are all kicking out and we're the school bus: the young conductor jumps out and grabs four tiny pre-schoolers, arranging them carefully in a row next to him, while a few older kids and a couple of adults also get on.

Turning around we go back over the airstrip and past the planes, and every couple of hundred yards we stop to throw one of the young kids in the direction of their house. Leaving Paradise, we head up to a small gravel clearing where there's another bus: an adult from ours jumps out, and grabs her small child from it. I'm remarking that there is no fucking way on earth you'd shove your 3 year olds on a 281, or get on one yourself knowing you'd meet the specific 85 at Cromwell Road bus garage which has your child on it. These buses are a vital part of the community and it's great to see.

Ten minutes later we're in Grenville, the big town in this parish. Anyone familiar with our series The Boroughers, in which Helen and I are visiting every borough of London, will understand how delighted I am that the different parishes of Grenada are well demarcated with prominent welcome signs, though sadly we only ever see them while haring around a tight bend on a hillside.

Grenville has an enormous Toyota Hiace carpark bus station, right next to the sea. There are thousands of kids around because every school, as well as loads more shops and stalls than poky little Sauteurs. We walk a circuit of a few blocks, not exactly enjoying the smell very much - this is the first place it has had that hot country stink about the place.

G-g-g-grenville, I keep saying, despite the non-similarities to Open All Hours

A couple of cold full fat cokes from a kiosk - so far, we've seen zero diet drinks anywhere - and we take a quick look at the sea behind the Drivers Recreaction room in which men are loudly playing dominos. Then we're back on the "look lost and white" plan, though the lost part goes away when we find the "this bay for this destination" sign. Nonetheless a conductor comes and grabs us because we look lost and white, and hey presto we're on the back seat of another number 9.

A few minutes passes until we're absolutely fucking rammed to the gills and away we go, fast as fuck from the word go since there's no point hanging around - we ain't getting no fuller. It's a slightly different route to this morning's number 9, but that doesn't surprise us any more. The big map we've got shows two routes, 9A and 9B, but looking at the destinations on the front of all the Toyota Hiaces its apparent that 9 just means "over on the northeast of the island".

It's an at times frighteningly fast and hair-raising drive, for us tourists at least. Neither of us are jealous of the schoolkids who do this 90 minute commute both ways each day, though the dedication to education is admirable. We're dropping passengers off and making sure they get safely away from the road all the way to the outskirts of Sauteurs by which time we're alone, and they check with us whether the bus terminal is cool or not.

It is, because we're going to walk along the beach again. Helen fancies a paddle in, potentially in both an ocean and a sea - for we know not precisely where the Atlantic becomes the Caribbean, only that it's around here somewhere.

As we walk we debrief about our day. Clearly still not having the hang of the pace of life in these parts, we'd had plans to visit like 3 or 4 different places today but in reality went to just one, and got a bus past another. But it was so much fun getting around on those buses, as sweaty and cramped as they were. Just watching how the whole system works, in so many different ways, was brilliant. Our intentions to use buses as much as we can thoughout our time here are firmly vindicated.

Also today, I want to do one of those "wear your football shirt and show off your holiday" style snaps so I demand to be pictured representing the glorious AFC Wimbledon here on Mt Rodney beach. COYD!

This is part of a makeshift beach gym, made by the proprietor of "D Real Bamboo Bar" nearby. And apparently my hat looks a bit cowboy.

This is our best attempt yet at walking the entire way back to the steep hill sticking to the beach, but there's a little bit where the choice is clamber or avoid and clambering looks too much like hard work.

Back up the steep hill and the hosts greet us. Helen gets changed to go for a swim in the pool, which I lounge next to it dicking around on my phone 'n that, taking photos of the sky and stuff.

A shower, then a couple of drinks before our last dinner at Armadillo. We're the only remaining guests, for quite some time as they're taking a 6 week break very soon. This means we get to sit around the balcony corner on the more comfy seats with the slightly different view, prior to our 7pm meal. We're glad to have dinner to ourselves, though at the same time it's starting to feel a little weird having the same two people cook for us each night. Three nights feels just about perfect.

Opting just for a main course what with having had lunch today, I go for lobster and Helen has triggerfish; I don't even know if I like the former, and neither of us have heard of the latter.

The accompaniments are the same for both: carrots, dasheen, and these small aubergine things. Dasheen is like potato but not. Everything is, of course, bloody beautiful again. It's no surprise that more people come here just to eat than to stay, despite the remote location. We wash it down with a few beers, then take 4 more up to the balcony where I alternate between sips of beer and blinks that last 30+ seconds. "Darling, are you dozing?" "NO!!" (Yes) Perhaps it's time for bed.

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