*disclaimer – this is all very tongue-in-cheek. Please do not bother sending me all your
politically-correct helpful insights into my writing style. Thank you, you may continue to read.*
Let me paint you a picture. You’re driving, its night and very dark out. The dark is only dispelled by the headlights of your car & others coming toward you, the rare signage by the roadside, or the even more rare yard light.
You realize you are seated in the right side of the car and therefore driving on the wrong left side of the road. You feel a bit disconcerted and off balance. Just as you start to get a bit comfortable you realize how narrow the road is. Barely wide enough for two small to average sized cars and definitely a squeeze if you happen to encounter a lorry truck, bus, or average SUV. You try to see if there is any shoulder to pull onto to be prepared, but you realize that there is a difference of anywhere from 2 to 6 inches between the tarmac and the dirt. This does not look promising.
To keep things interesting, let’s add a few “obstacles.” First – potholes. They can’t be seen until you’re about 6 feet away and can range from minor (5 or 6” in diameter & 1-2” deep) to car-gobbling (2-4’ wide & up to 18” deep) – seriously I’m not making this up.
Next – pedestrians. They are primarily Kenyan and therefore by nature dark-skinned. Their clothing also tends to be darkish and they like to walk on the relatively smooth surface (as compared to the mud/dirt/what have you in the shoulder) of the tarmac. They will also randomly dart across the road in front of you & it is VERY BAD to hit one, even accidentally (so I’m told). And if there aren’t any pedestrians of the two-legged variety, there is always the possibility of a variety of the 4-legged kind. (see above)
Finally – public transportation. Buses will randomly pull off the road to drop off passengers (who then become pedestrians) or they will arbitrarily pull into the road after picking up/dropping off passengers, often without using signals. Also in the public transportation department are matatus. These haphazardly driven vans are crammed with 14 (legally, but let’s not get technical) people and are under the influence of drivers who are either the best drivers in the world because they know exactly how much space their vehicles need, or they are absolutely insane crazy out of their ever loving minds. I tend to agree with the latter theory. You can determine a matatu from a basic VW/Toyota/Nissan van by the multiple stickers/placards/decals on them, often referring to God, Jesus & heaven. (which imho is to help their passengers know from where to seek safety & salvation). These vehicles will pass you on the wrong side, pull out without warning, stop short, and generally cause you great anxiety.
There. Now you know the story of night-time driving in Nairobi & why I’m perfectly happy to allow someone else to do it. Anybody want to come to Kenya??