Egyptian Roulette

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Where I stayed
Dahab Hostel Cairo
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Egypt  ,
Saturday, February 13, 2010

Here’s a little game I like to play.  It entails doing some completely random acts and see where they lead. 

It goes like this:  Take the sketchy breakfast your hotel has to offer, and shew away the hords of flies that try to mate on your jam while emancipated cats meow for food.  Head to the nearest metro station and get onto a crowed car only to get off at the next stop.  Begin to wander around the streets looking at imported tools and mechanical equiptment until you get lost.  Laugh at the cars parked over one another’s bumpers with bashed in body panels.  Hail a cab and pick a name off of a list of possible ‘sites’ for him to take you to.  Reach out and touch the car next to you in the packed traffic jam and pray for movement so a little breeze will penetrate the suffocating heat.  Dodge the spit from the cabbie next to you as he horks in your general direction.  Get out and wander again.  Make sure you get far enough away from the obvious tourist shops.  Walk until the street fills with garbage under feet and the sides narrow so that people cannot get by one another and there’s not a pyramid paperweight in site.  Get jostled by women carrying huge packages on their heads, and men pushing loaded carts over your toes.  Wonder why bakers splay out their bread to cool on the filthy street and dusty ledges.  Laugh at a group of elderly women fighting for discount lingerie.  
Do some more taxi haggling and practice your Arabic numbers and ask him to take you to the nearest metro station.  Watch in horror as he circles around the block running up the meter, then begins exchanging directions with another cabbie while driving the crammed streets.  Take over and give directions yourself so you don’t run up an even larger tab for this disoriented driver. 

Wander around the streets nearby and fund a funny old man in a dirty galabeya and pure white beard trailing ˝ way down his chest who sells falafel from a cart.  Find a little sheesha café where no one speaks English and a strange woman keeps catching your husband’s attention to communicate…who knows!  Talk with strangers on the street and laugh at how every one of them tries to see you something in the end.  Avoid eye contact with the men trying to get your attention and ignore the comments that are heard.  Strange how meaning is conveyed in any language even when the individual words are not understood. 

Meet friends at a shopping mall inside a 7 star hotel.  Put on sunglasses to shield the glare from  flourescent lights and polished gleaming surfaces where escalators and elavators whisk you from floor to floor to floor.  Suffer a little culture shock seeing names of stores and restaurants which had vanished from memory.  Look at the newest movies on the shelf and realize you don’t know any of them.  Star at the high fashion which glares from every window.  Feel a little jealousy from the groups of girls who follow your husband around staring and giggling.  Wonder about the woman twho’s trying to eat her dinner under the face shield of her burca.  Have McDonald’s icecream for the first time in years.  Realize that everything is the same, no matter where you go. 

Accept a ride home from friends and really experience Cairo’s roads.  A place where anything goes and even 70km an hour feels like a NASCAR race.  Swerving through cars on every side and slamming on the breaks while scattered pedestrians act as bollards to avoid.  Amazingly, a simple honk of the horn or flash of the lights lets others know your intention.  Try to fathom how the traffic can possibly be jammed at 1 in the morning.  But be proud of your beginning steps into Egyptian night culture where things don’t start until noon and don’t finish until…?

Everything unplanned and everything memorable. 

I’m going to miss this when life again become ‘routine’.

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