Thursday, September 10, 2015

Matatu For Dummies (part 1)

Matatu for dummies 
(part 1)

It's my turn for blogging this week and my topic is the matatu experience in Uganda: a ambitious (and hopefully funny) account of a Greek/Scottish girl. 
There is a second part to follow on the next weeks...
Please be seated, no seat belts necessary (or available).

Lesson no 1
What is the matatu? 
This was my question when I was told we're taking the matatu from the airport. "The taxi", he says, "you'll see". And I saw! I saw a kind of van, camper-van shape, only larger, with basic seating (some chairs unfold), a driver (thank god!) and people moving in and out of it watching their head.

Lesson no 2 
Personal space. 
On the matatu, there isn't such a thing. If you were hoping to have a seat somewhere your thighs do not touch the thighs of the person sitting next to you (or worse both sides...), where your briefs do not stick out of the gap on the back of your seat, where your knees had at least a bit of breathing space without piercing through the front seat, and that your hair-do does not touch the ceiling, obviously you haven't been in a matatu before. 

Lesson no 3
The conductor. 
It might take you a few rides before you learn this lesson but the chances are very high you will do one day. The conductor is mainly a nice guy that will help you get the right matatu for your destination (most of the times) and there is a chance he'll be sitting on your lap for part of the trip. And by saying lap, I mean lap but not in the way it sounds. It's a rather surprising and uncomfortably awkward experience that if you're a healthy and open person you'll want to at least laugh without shame. Basically, if you're the last one to get a seat in the matatu near the door, when it's full, the conductor will squeeze you in along the seat and close the door half sitting on you, you then squeeze the person next to you and they squeeze the person next to them with the danger to push them out of the window. 

To be continued...


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