For several years I have been making resolutions to travel around Kenya and East Africa but true to form, the resolutions have remained just that, resolutions.
The tide finally abruptly turned when I decided on a whim to travel to Mombasa for a weekend. When it came to it the process was pretty snappy. I decided to travel at 2pm on a Thursday afternoon, was packed by 3pm and had gotten a ticket for the 10.30pm bus by 5pm.
I took Mash Bus since it was the bus that a friend who travels regularly to Mombasa had used recently. A ticket for the regular bus goes for Ksh 1300 while a ticket for the AirCon which is the last bus that leaves Nairobi for Mombasa at 10.45pm goes for Ksh 1500 for normal seat and Ksh 1700 for VIP.
We boarded at 10.20pm and we left the station at 10.30pm. By 1.50am we were in Mtito Andei and at 5.30am we had arrived in Mombasa. Mash Bus gives water and nothing else. At their ticket price one would expect at least a snack.
The Mtito Andei phenomena is intriguing. There are restaurants galore and the bus stops for twenty minutes for folk to stretch and grab a snack or a meal. I wonder whether the eating and shopping was essential or whether it is a case of instilled tradition.
The bus had plasma screens which remained off all through the journey and this was a point of discussion for the guys who were seated behind me. Why have plasma screens and not use them was the question.
The guys also had pretty interesting conversations about football, of course international but to their defense at least it was La Liga and not the usual English premier league fanaticism. There was also a man who is clearly a frequent traveler and he regaled his audience with tales of which buses speed and those that are driven at snail pace on the Nairobi-Mombasa route.
It would have made for fun conversation but for the little fact that at that particular moment we were in a fast moving bus whose driver was simulating a Grand Prix car and zigzag-ing on the road as he tried to evade the many trucks on the one-carriage way. Mash Bus is certainly not for the faint hearted. Suffice to say that sleep for me was a luxury and I kept communicating with God all through the commute.
It is all well and good to have an eight lane Thika super highway but I reckon that making Nairobi-Mombasa highway at least a dual carriageway should be a priority for the government.
The bus finally got to the Mash offices in Mombasa but folk were not in a hurry to alight. There was a discussion about Mombasa Republican Council and it repercussions. Folk joked that this may be the last few months before one was required to get a visa to enter the Coast Province if the “Pwani si Kenya” threat came to pass. The overall sentiment however was that the government is not to be joked with and that when push comes to shove the army would be deployed, a curfew would be enforced and MRC would be crushed.
Finally I alighted. It had been over a dozen years since I had last been in Mombasa and my first impression was that there were too many tuk-tuks and Nissans. There was also to my pleasant surprise none of the oppressive humidity that is synonymous with Mombasa.
Remember I had traveled on a whim and I had no idea where I was to go or where I was to sleep or what I was to do. I was a backpacker ready for anything. Also remember that it had been over a dozen years since I was last in Mombasa. To get back my bearings and at least figure out what was where I took a walk around the town.
My walk took me from Mwembe Tayari all the way up to Bondeni where I had kahawa tungu na mahamri with the old Kanzu-clad men on the streets, I then walked on Digo road, Moi Avenue, Nkurumah Road, went to Ganjoni and also to Uhuru Gradens. By the time I had gotten to the Post Office and Salambo Night Club I had recollected my bearings.
Isn’t the mind a wonderful thing?
After two hours of walking about I stumbled on a room bang in the middle of Town which was affordable, clean, had matching slippers and even DSTV. Upon checking in the receptionist gave me condoms. This she informed me was the hotel’s policy. Quite caring of them I thought.
After my sleepless travel through the night and my walkabout on the streets on Mombasa, I needed to sleep and sleep I did.
To be continued…
GOD BLESS KENYA!