Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Matatu madness

Back when I lived in Tanzania I blogged about riding the daladala, or local minibus. If you don’t feel like reading that whole post (I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t, but anyway) they are basically 14-passenger vans that regularly get crammed with 30 people or more at a time. We heard exotic stories about the matatu, the daladala’s Kenyan cousin, which was supposed to be much more regulated and safe. Supposedly, the drivers in Kenya would only allow 14 passengers and even enforce the wearing of seatbelts.

It seemed to good to be true. And alas, it is. Though the regulation is still in place, people demonstrate creative ways of getting around it. This past weekend when I traveled to Kisumu (the third largest city in Kenya, on the coast of Lake Victoria) my traveling companion and I were squeezed into a van that definitely contained more than 14 people. After traveling for a while, the driver pulled over and instructed four people to get out and hop on a motorbike (you read that right, four people on a motorbike; six is the most I’ve seen at once thus far) so he could pass the upcoming police checkpoint with impunity…

My matatu experience today was also amusing: I had the luxury of riding in a matatu equipped with a TV playing music videos! The veejay (haven’t used that word in a while, if ever) played a nice mix of Tanzanian and Kenyan videos, my favorite of which was probably “Papa God Ooh!” by MOG and Jr. Squeezy. Now that’s traveling in style.

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