Riding in the matatu (van taxi) at nearly twice legal capacity, my knees crushed into the seat in front so hard that they become one. I shift from one buttock to the other trying to ease the numbing in my legs. In this cramped van I ride at speeds unthinkable given the wet, muddy roads, seatbelts a mere fantasy, I ride, I read, I watch the window, I transport to another place, a beautiful peaceful place, by the volcano formed crater lake I have spent the previous four days camping above. And yet I remain mildly disappointed that I am not sharing the taxi with a goat, or a chicken, as that would only intensify the experience.
Outside the window, the dramatic clouds paint the sky with a story, thick dark thunderstorm clouds roll over soft white clouds illuminated a red-orange goldness by the setting sun sinking behind the mountains. Single columns of rain appear in the distance, further left a curtain of rain forms an impenetrable wall. The driver continues, as if we are racing against the inevitable rain, slowing only for speed bumps both man made and created as a result of the rain season in combination with a lack in the countries road maintenance action plan. The lady behind periodically attempts to close the already shut window, seemingly unaware that the gentle cold breeze we are experiencing is due to the boot being tied shut with rope in order to maximise the vans cargo carrying capacity.
We approach the mountains covered in low lying clouds. The odd hill appears in view, the world beyond disappearing behind a wall of low lying cloud and thunderstorm rain.
People, hundreds of people in every one of the hundred small towns we pass line the streets, in some cases sheltering from the rain, in most seemingly passing the time by starring at each vehicle speeding past. I smile at anyone who looks at me, occasionally waving at children scattered along our path.
The vans horn is used for everything from, ‘hello fellow taxi we are driving past as you may have noticed, see you later friend’, to: get the fuck off the road I’m not slowing down for you, man on bicycle/children walking home from school/anything on the road that would lose in a collision.
I arrive while writing this and am ushered of the taxi in a hurry. A motorcycle taxi tries to rip me off, so I walk – eager to test out my new second hand fluro yellow Sears rain jacket purchased from a market earlier in the week – 10 minutes in the torrential rain, which of course stops the second I arrive at the hotel.
This shall be marked as one of the more pleasant rides. Based on a scale where spending 6 hours in a bus completely and utterly infested with cockroaches is about a 2/10.