A pitstop in Boston and then the Downeaster Amtrak to Soca for three nights in Old Orchard Beach. Old Orchard Beach on the Maine coast. A place name that oozes nostalgia, honey, nuts and vanilla, quaintness and a slow pace of life.
Outside Soca station (it turned out the train doesn’t stop at Orchard out of season) a frazzled woman with three cute tinies was on the phone to the taxi company.
‘An hour?! I phoned from the train an hour ago and booked it for 3.15pm. Why will it take another hour!”
“There’s only one taxi left in town,” said a woman with a deep voice, sitting on a nearby bench.
This interjection was ignored.
“Well what am I supposed to do? I mean I don’t even know where we are. I phoned an hour ago!”
“Soca,” said the woman on the bench. Delivering deadpan worthy of Greyhound Dave.
I was hoping to get a cab given the unexpected journey but a) my phone wasn’t charged and b) it wasn’t looking likely given the one cab in town scenario. At that moment, a jumpity old bus oozing with character pulled up bearing an ‘Old Orchard Beach’ header. Mmmm.
$1.50 stuffed into a metal box and entry into the world of the Soca/Old Orchard Beach shuttle bus. A bus that has no stops while stopping any where.
I was reminded of Rachel Simon’s book ‘Riding the bus with my sister‘ as I asked the driver about my motel destination. This became the collective concern of pretty much everyone on the bus. Where was my motel and how would I get there? From a bus which seemed to wander around Old Orchard Beach picking up anyone who nodded.
At one point, a passenger got off the bus to pick up a pizza he’d ordered which was being held by someone on a park bench. The driver took the opportunity to get off too. And try and get a bit more local intel about my puzzling destination.
By this stage my iPad was being passed around the bus as people zoomed in on the red flag that identified my motel and the blue dot that marked where we were. Kind of near really. Close enough to walk.
The passenger reappeared with an enormous pizza box. Followed by the driver.
“I think what you need to do is to get off the bus when the blue circle gets close to or at the red flag.”
Everyone nodded or murmured in agreement. Conversation turned to the unexpected closing of Dunkin Donuts.