Monday, January 16, 2012

Arriving and Driving

O, A and I arrived in Cairo on January 30. Living on the East Coast of the United States, I’ve flown over bodies of water many many times. It was a wholly different experience flying over the desert, with only sand as far as the eye could see. While our approach didn’t give us our first glimpse of pyramids, we were treated to the amazing and strangely beautiful sight of the sun setting over the desert – a otherworldly view.

The Husband was able to meet us at the gate and we all were glad to see him again after a month apart, and not least of all for his help with our massive amounts of luggage.

The nearly one hour drive from the airport to Maadi during rush hour proved that The Husband's colorful stories about the Egyptian traffic and driving were not hyperbole. The road to Cairo was densely packed with all manner of conveyance, from the small, decrepit white vans (“microbuses”) that serve as a cheap, informal (and ride-at-your-own-risk) form of public transport for locals to enormous dust-covered SUVs to makeshift wooden carts pulled by malnourished donkeys.

I’m a veteran city driver, but nothing compares to the free-for-all that is Cairo traffic. Driving here is one big game of chicken whereby you arrive at your destination by sheer will and the grace of God. No lines in the road to mark lanes, no traffic lights to slow or halt the unending flow of vehicles, only roundabouts, occasional speed bumps and frequent road hazards (trees, rubble, trash, cats, dogs, people) to regulate the traffic. Stop signs, yield signs? Not a one, just hold your hand out the window in the universal gesture for stop and yell istanna (wait) with as much conviction as possible and, inshalla (hopefully), your opponent will abide.

White-knuckled and wiped out, we arrived safely at last to our new apartment. After meeting and handing over our luggage to our kind Boab (part building security and caretaker), Hamdi, we walked the four flights to our flat where we were welcomed warmly by Fifi, our already indispensable housekeeper, cook, translator, fixer, cultural ambassador, etc., and Tom’s own version of a Christmas tree.

/lkm in Cairo

1 comment:

  1. Fun fact: the first sentence they taught my sister when she was studying Arabic was "The traffic in Cairo is crazy." Miss you, but so glad I can go on this adventure with you through your blog. - Lauren G.