Published: December 9th 2006December 2nd 2006
In order to drive like an Egyptian, one must do at least two of the following:
- Drive at excessive speeds
- Use the horn at every opportunity, even when it is not necessary (neccesary moments include when people walk near the road , when there is a car in front of you, when the sun is shining and when you haven't used the horn in the last minute)
- Drive on the wrong side of the road
- Drive the wrong way up a one way street
- Ignore lane markings (there are two or three lanes on most major roads, but it is completely fine to drive four or five cars abreast)
- Have at least one person hanging from or out of the car (e.g. we spotted a man standing on top of a van, rearranging the luggage on the roof, while it travelled at about 50km an hour - he stopped to wave to us)
We are enjoying the quirks of Cairo.
Cairo is a filthy city. If the smog doesn't get you, then you will be sure to step in something indescribable. But where else in the world can you see the
pyramids in the background to apartment buildings?
James and I arrived in Cairo after a 24 hour series of flights (Kampala to Nairobi, Nairobi to Dubai, Dubai to Cairo). We were exhausted but determined not to sucumb to jet lag. After bargaining the taxi driver down to half the original fare (just a taste of things to come), we had a delightful trip through the city. We realised that our driver had no idea where our hotel was when he took us to two different hotels and then a fire extinguisher shop. We eventually got the right directions and were delighted to find ourselves at a lovely hotel with reliable electicity and HOT SHOWERS! After availing ourselves of these facilities we decided to explore and find a hairdresser (I was in desperate need).
As we walked along the main street near our hotel we were stopped by a man who firstly wanted to know where we were from and then whether we would like to see his shop. We were fairly suspicious and it was probably because we were tired but we soon found ourselves chatting to the proprieter of the Rosetta Papyrus and Perfume Shop. Sigh. Many
cups of teas and felafals later, we actually discovered that this guy was legit and a nice guy to boot. He dropped us at the Hilton hotel to get a haircut and lunch for a tiny price and so we agreed to go on a tour to Memphis and Saqqara with him the next day.
The following morning we slept in and so made it to Emad's (shop owner) late and without breakfast. "No problem" he says. He organises breakfast (felafels) for us at no extra cost. Lovely!
We spent most of the morning at the Egyptian Museum. So many spelling mistakes. The museum has an absolute treasure trove of artifacts but we were a bit frustrated at the haphazard way of displaying them. For example, a case would have ten artifacts and there would only be labels explaining two of them. And these would have spelling mistakes. Sometimes they were in Arabic, sometimes in English and sometimes in French. We found out later that the government is building a new museum nearer to the Pyramids at Giza.
From the museum we headed to Saqqara. The pyramids at Saqqara are the oldest in Egypt, predating those at Giza. We were pretty excited to be there - our first old thing! Well, besides the Peugot that the taxi driver drove. We hired an Egyptologist (a very generous description, even though he knew his stuff) to explain the various areas of the site. We even got to see our first hieroglyphics. The hieroglyphics on these tombs depicted scenes of daily life that the tomb owners wanted replicated in the afterlife. Some of these were not suitable for young viewers. The one that made us really laugh were of the two dogs getting friendly. I mean, seriously! Why would you want that on the wall of your tomb?!
That night we met the rest of the people on our tour. There are two groups - our group of 13 people (all super nice and mainly Aussie), and another group of 5 who will not be doing the trip to Sinai but will be doing the rest with us. And guess who is in the group of 5? Alison Spies! For those of you who have no idea who I am talking about - James' brother's best friend's sister. I know. Get you head around it. Spin out.
Anyways, that was our first 24 hour in Cairo. Lots of fun and felafals!