Sunday, April 26, 2009

To Market, To Market - Salt Cay Style

Grocery shopping on Salt Cay is not just a drive to the local IGA or supermarket. We have four small island shops that have potatoes, onions, flour, eggs and assorted other "staples" when you need them, but many people get on the Government Boat (aka Brittany Leigh) on Tuesday to take the 45 minute boat ride to Grand Turk to buy groceries. Grand Turk is the capitol of the Turks and Caicos Islands and is about 5 miles North of Salt Cay as the osprey flies.

I don’t do the shopping. Mike makes the trip every week or two to buy vegetables, meat and whatever else we need. Personally, I'm glad that Mike does the shopping. I don't really mind the boat ride, but the other end of the journey can be challenging. The Salt Cay boat used to pull up to a nice small dock with stairs going up to the main dock in Grand Turk. Then, about five years ago the configurations changed and now there's a horrible ladder that you have to climb up to or climb down and jump onto the boat. Not me! The Government keeps saying things will get changed, but I am not holding my breath on that. I suppose one of these days someone will really get seriously hurt (people have already been hurt) and they might think about giving Salt Cay back a dock that works for the small boats.

I used to go shopping with Mike, it was fun. We’d take the plane or boat over, go to all the stores (you can’t shop in just one store because each store has different things) and then go for lunch before heading back to the Salt Cay dock to get on the boat home. Those days are over, even if the dock was fixed, without a vehicle on Grand Turk to use for shopping Mike often walks everywhere and there is no way my short legs will keep up with his long ones! But hey, that’s not to say it can’t be done… just not by me.
I think Mike likes riding the boat with the ladies who do take the boat from Salt Cay to Grand Turk! The younger women will often go over to have their hair or nails done and visit their friends. Miss Netty is also a regular on the boat and he loves to tease her. (From what I hear, he knows just about every shopkeeper on the island!)
Salt Cay seems to have a bit of a problem when it comes to keeping a boat running. Some years ago, Shine (Alan Dickenson) bought a boat to ferry people and building supplies back and forth. One of those boats, the Lucky Lady, sunk in the Salt Cay harbor during Hurricane Ike, his other boat (the Buccaneer) ended up in a tree in Grand Turk (word on the street is that it has been turned into a tourist attraction.) There has been lots of talk about how to get Lucky Lady out of the harbor.
In the Adventures of Captain Mike I think I talked about how the dock at Salt Cay slid into the harbor on March 6, 2000. (the link will take you to that day!) The Government was going to fix it but never got around to it. Plans were drawn and budgets made, officials came over to inspect the damage but the dock still sits pretty much like it was after it collapsed - there is a wire frame filled with rocks to keep the rest of the dock from falling down.

This year, 2009, the government days for the boat are Tuesday and Wednesday. They’re called government days because the government subsidizes the trip for the boat owner those days. I’m not sure if that’s happening this year because the government is broke. Everyone pays to go on the boat – Round trip for men is $12 and $8 for women (don't ask - that’s just the way it is) Mr. Barber Selver collects the fees for the boat trip. When we first arrived on Salt Cay it was $4 for women and free for men because the men would help unload the boat but now that there's a crew to do the loading and unloading everyone pays.
Mr. Maurice Simmons (pictured here) collects for the freight on the boat - $1.00 per box, bag, cooler or packet on grocery day. Building materials and gasoline are charged at different rates. Seas willing, on grocery day the boat does not leave Grand Turk to return to Salt Cay until about 2:30PM.
There are no gas stations on Salt Cay, if you need gas for your buggy, propane tank or boat you send tanks and cans on the boat to be filled. Gasoline does not go on the boat on grocery day. If you don’t go on grocery day you can bring some groceries back on gas day but gas day is a short day with the boat leaving Grand Turk at about 12:30PM.
When you’re shopping on Grand Turk you take a pen to mark your boxes and bags with your name or mark. After all the passengers are off the boat, the crew starts unloading the groceries. They’re piled onto the dock and you’ve got to be there to put your stuff in a pile for Mr. Maurice to count and charge you.

In this picture, Miss Netty is making sure her stuff all comes off correctly so that she can transport it to her shop. Lots of flour, cartons of eggs, cases of coke and fruit juice, rice, canned beans and lots of other tins of food are brought over every week so that those who do not take the boat can purchase from the little shops on island. Even though we go to Grand Turk at least every two weeks, we still go to Miss Netty’s (Miss Netty’s Variety Store with our friend Coral Jennings in the doorway). or the Dickenson’s Store for eggs, flour and juice (Mr. & Mrs. Dickenson’s Variety Store – closed but I’ll try to get a picture of the lovely Mrs. Eloisa behind the counter before we go!) They have freezers with chicken, pork chops, bacon and a few other things to make it through until the next shopping day.

Even though it's been a long day, Mike and Carolyn manage to exchange a few laughs about the boat ride home. It’s usually a wet ride even on a fairly calm day and District Commissioner Carolyn made me promise to photo shop some of the water off her clothes. (and I did!)

Before leaving Mike makes sure that Mr. Maurice has the proper count and pay for our freight. (No they're not dancing, just goofing around!)

The buggy is loaded - it’s time to go home, unload and take a nap!

1 comment:

Rose and the princess's said...

Charle saw the buggy and said "me help grandpa" LOL apparintly Grandpa needs help driving the buggy :P