Monday, January 08, 2007

Matatus

"Fancy" matatus often have a hip-hop theme.


On Sunday us volunteers took our first matatu ride into downtown Nairobi. A matatu is a minibus that takes passengers on a route into and out of the city, basically everywhere. Riding a matatu is unlike any bus or taxi ride in the United States. There is no schedule for the matatu. You just stand on the roadside and raise your hand at the stop. If a matatu is too full it will pass the stop without even slowing down. Traffic in Nairobi is fierce and you have to be careful for an approaching matatu that doesn't plan to stop, or it will surely run you over. If it is a busy day some matatus will offer standing room only, but this is only if you promise up-front to pay the ticket if it is pulled over by the Kenyan police. This is because it is a violation of traffic laws to seat more people than the capacity that is clearly painted on the outside of each matatu. When this law is not enforced many matatus will allow double the passengers, including very small children and farm animals. If you choose to board the matatu you must board quickly because matatus hate to stop for anything or anyone. As you climb on to the "motor-sardine can" you will be approached for the fare by the "conductor." The "conductor" is a plainly dressed man who spends most of his time hanging out the side of the matatu dodging oncoming traffic. As you stand among the seats you must also be aware of pickpockets as both of your hands are occupied tightly gripping a rail attached to the ceiling. A pickpocket's favorite mode of transportation is the matatu. It is very difficult to hear the conversation among the passengers on the "fancy" matatus because it's passengers are greeted with loud, blarring rap, hip-hop, or reggae music. One very common theme for the interior of a matatu is "pro-marijuana". Many feature graphics on the windows with the slogan, "Don't step on the grass, smoke-it." An American's first ride in a matatu is surely an unforgettable experience!

10 comments:

Tim said...

Tim,

Greetings! I hope you are well in Kenya.

I was wondering if the streets in Nairobi are anything like the madness that is Rome.

God Bless!

Tim

Anonymous said...

LOL....I was cracking up reading that!! Stay away from the grass...

Anonymous said...

LOL....I was cracking up reading that!! Stay away from the grass...

Raquel said...

We all missed you at Bible study last night. It was much shorter without all of your insane...er...I mean,thought provoking...questions!!
Are you keeping up praying the Hours? I'm up to 3 rosaries a day!
Miss ya, buddy!
Raquel

Tim said...

Also, I missed our discussion about the she-bears! All life comes down to understanding the soul of she-bears!

Raquel said...

It's all because of mean bald men. Curse them all!

Genesis Ministries, Archdiocese of Detroit said...

Tim,

Glad to hear you made it halfway across the world and are jumping right into life in Kenya! :)

Enjoy yourself, and I look forward to reading more about your adventures.

Peace and blessings,
Rakhi

Anonymous said...

Tim -
Glad to hear you are alive and doing well! Stay safe on the public transportation system and keep us up-to-date on your amazing adventuer in Kenya - we are living vicariusly through you, now!

Heather

Anonymous said...

Hi,
My name is Kristen and I met someone from your program named Ryan during my travels to Africa. I spent a month in Ghana and just got back. He gave me this website so I could hear about your experiences in Kenya. I really admire the work that you guys are doing!!!!

KENYA MPYA MATATUS said...

hey Tim, God bless you on your jouney. this morning i rided on one of the matatus and really, i didn't believe it, i thought i will make a post that will somehow congraturate the managers of the minibus. The first to see positive and respecting the passangers inside. i will be making the post in my KENYAMPYA website just to see peoples reactions. Otherwise, thanks for coming to kenya