May 22

How to get to work, Kenyan Style!

Ok… I am beginning to see the difficulties behind writing blogs… Time.. you absorb so fricking much and your doing so much that when it comes to the time to write, you just wanna sleep cos your up 5 hours later for another day of madness… So quickly… update again…

I am in Mombasa.. for now… Was told after being there for 3 days that they want me to move to Zambia to work on a big project funded by the Irish governments development body, Irish Aid. So in a month or 2, I will relocate again. There is a longer story to that that will only be told over pints and coffee’s so you’ll have to come here (wherever here will be) to get it! Now.. this all may change and I could end up on a bus to Tanzania tomorrow.. its like that.. you just have to be able to go with the flow…

Now speaking of going with the flow, I think everybody who does a blog on East Africa writes something about local transport.. cos its fricking CRAZY.. .and awesome at the same time…

Imagine this… (going to write this one Irish style)….

Right.. your standing down the end of the road and some crazy fella comes at you in a Toyota Hiace mini bus and there is a guy hanging out the side window shouting “Blanch, Blanch, Blanch” .. What do you think… ya.. right.. your dead.. Kidnapping and all that followed by some torture and you end up dumped somewhere in Finglas… (For international crews.. just replace Blanch and Finglas for the dodgy bad places in your local city!

Well.. alas this is how my morning starts off every day here in Mombasa.. and its not by being left in the local dump to be picked at by cows but its to be picked up by some mad minibus driver and his assistant (how nice to put it that way) and hurtle your way to work at a speed unknown to man, avoiding traffic jams by driving along the footpath and to wrap it all off, make sure your woken up by great 90′s hip hop vibrating in a speaker in your ear..

Ladies and Gentlemen, for those who have yet to experience this, get yourself on a Matatu. They are the business. You don’t have to wait for more than 14 seconds before some lad will come shouting at you at a place that is close to where your going. Mtwapa Mtwapa Mtwapa…. rafiki.. mtwapa… Cool.. Mtwapa is my route… Most locals play it cool.. they don’t bat an eyelid even though they are going that way… but wait for the lovely assistant of the driver to physically drag them onto the bus. It must be away to feel wanted in this end of the world… Feck that crap.. I don’t wait.. there is seats for grab.. 1 of 14 seats each with their perks and perils… Before you get on.. you get your price sorted… cos being a whitey or mzungu as we are commonly referred to here, you will get 10 bob (shillings) added on to your price for luxury tax. He says Hamsini (50).. I say Arobaini(40).. he grunts.. I win this time and on we get…..

Now.. it depends on what your thrill or comfort level in the house…. Best seat in the house is in the second row in the back beside the window… Its been statistically proven (by who I’d love to know) that this is the most comfortable but more importantly the safest seat in the house in case of a crash.. and yes..from bouncing on footpaths and driving on the wrong side of the road to try an overtaking manoever that Chuck Norris wouldn’t even try, it has been known that there has been a few crashes here and there.. Window seats on the right hand side are generally ok.. when its hot which it normally is, this is the place to be.. Right down the back is a pain cos you have to battle your way up and back through a mass of other disgruntle clients… Then there is the Arse Slapping Seat.. Its a 1 seat on the left just behind the entrance door where you can be guaranteed that as a big hefty woman makes her way for the back seat, she will give you a good slap with her arse as she maneuvers her way though… Finally… the thrill seat… Beside the driver…. I think the previous Chuck Norris related comment will explain it all. After night time, this seat is more like a roller coaster then a mode of transport.. though its all part of getting to and from work eh….

And the best part… no feckin refund tickets to bring to get your change back! Who can ask for more

The bad part… they are prone to changing their mind about where they are going half way through your journey and ship you on another Matatu (14 seconds later) to continue your journey!

Keeps you on your toes and needless to say, your awake by the time you get to work!


  1. olgashka

    loooooove it!
    Let’s go there Olgashka!!!


  2. Mam

    ever thought of taking up journalism…..made me smile enjoy…xx

  3. anita

    we got exactly the same transport in Indonesia. We call them angkot. :)

  4. Esther

    I wish my drive to work each morning was this much fun :-D

  5. Claudia S.

    Its exactly the same in Peru….hahahahahaha
    Public transportation is thrilling… to call it some way….. and diverse…. once I hopped into one that had a disco ball inside…. yepp… close the door and get the party started at 8:00 am… hahahahahaha on the way to work.

    Here buses and minibuses are characterized by bright colors…. I had never questioned myself about this … but my friend told me once that this makes sense since we have such a large number of illiterate population… people can not read the names of the stops written on the side of the buses… so we recognize the different routes by the different combination of colors… ,,, well a glance of Peru…. :)

    Take careeeeeeeeeee kito!!!!!!

    1. Keith

      I can’t go to Peru now..

      Colour Coded Buses.. I am fecked!

  6. Ricky

    Sounds like the minibuses in Latvia. Guess they’re the same all over the globe (or universal).

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