A matatu that plies one of the routes in Mombasa city. PHOTO | BRIAN WACHIRAA matatu that plies one of the routes in Mombasa city. PHOTO | BRIAN WACHIRA
By EUNICE MURATHE

Moving about Mombasa and its suburbs in matatus can be a worthwhile experience depending on the passenger next to you.

Some may irritate you to the core, while others might crack your ribs.

The 14-seater matatus ply set routes in and out of Mombasa Island with different range of fares.

In you plan to visit Mombasa, here are the types of people you will not miss in the yellow lined PSVs:

1. Touts

Mombasa people are friendly and eager to hold a conversation. While some touts might be aggressive, most of them are warm, polite and kind (unlike those in Nairobi).

Be cautious, however, because, some may attempt to fleece you especially if you not aware of the route charges.

You will not miss their overly gentleness to beautiful ladies. They fondly call them ‘dada’ or ‘mrembo’.

You might also find yourself amongst a group of touts seated in the vehicle loudly engaging the driver and the vehicle’s conductor. The touts often alight at various stages and some double up as ‘manamba’.

Interestingly, they always get out of their way to advise the driver – from comfort of their seats – on the route to follow, turns to make and the choice of music. There are few who are unkempt and have bad odour due to Mombasa’s heat. Quite disturbing.

2. The loud, eloquent Swahili speakers

In native Swahili, Coastal people in the matatu do not hesitate to comment on the trends and gossip. First-time visitors are often left in awe after a brief interaction with Coasterians.

But if you are the type that enjoys gossips, then you’ll be in good company. However, take caution before engaging such talkers, especially if your Swahili is in doubt.

3. Annoying students

Most high school students in Mombasa are commuters. Early in the morning, you are likely to come across students fighting for the front seat in matatus.

In the evening it is just a repeat, but this time the fights could be worse. Boys, often from football practice, will not only engage in loud conversations but also sing along to the loud music in matatus.

They obviously enjoy the blaring music. And if you complain, they retort that you are either too old or a control freak.

4. Miraa chewers

It is not uncommon to sit next to a tout or a passenger chewing miraa (khat) and spitting haphazardly. As disgusting as it is, they will hold on to their miraa bundle, unmoved by your sneers and looks of disapproval.

Some litter the floor of the matatu with the leaves and stems. Others will talk with their mouths full of the leaves leaving you upset.

5. Swahili women

The Swahili culture is the culture of Mombasa hence the high likelihood of you sharing a matatu ride with a Swahili woman.

Some are known to be courteous while simply minding their own business. But then you are also likely to share a seat with the infamous aggressive tough-talking Swahili women. A small misunderstanding can turn into vulgarity and insults.

Others may be overbearing and insist on preferred seats and choice of music. Should you ever yourself in such a situation, just stay calm and quiet.