Egypt Rant

A good portion of the last two days in Cairo have been spent on the road. I could not help but notice that driving in Cairo is chaos. But like all cities in the world where driving follows a very loose set of rules it is like an unchoreographed ballet. Everything ebbs and flows very organically. Everyone is very polite and it seems to me no one gets mad. You have to be aggressive and nudge your way into the spaces much smaller than your car but if you get the front bumper inbetween two vehicles the person behind will let you in. All this goes on at any speed. 10 kph or 80 kph.

The subtlety of all this is the drivers in Cairo have an amazing grasp of the dynamics of the roadway. They are very aware of all that is in front of them, beside them and behind them. They understand the differences in the speed of the surrounding vehicles and they understand how to react to them. Move over ½ a meter to the right, speed up slightly, slowdown quickly. It is one of the things I see wrong with the drivers in Canada. They have no idea how to read the dynamics of the road and end up stopping at a highway merge sign because they cannot read how the traffic is moving and make a seamless transition from one road to the next. They could not drive here.

The Cairo government has also found away to save loads of cash. They make the roads wide enough for X number of vehicles, pave them nicely and then skip the line painting. This saves on the cost of paint and the cost of labour. Nobody pays any attention to the lines anyway so why have them.

Debbie mentioned we spent a day with at guide at Giza and the pyramids. The guide was the one to choose the lunch spot. We ended up at an unmarked garden restaurant that she said only a few guides knew about. It is more or less a private home with a courtyard large enough to set up a few tables. The lady cooks up a standard meal that includes a variety of home-grown things, chicken and camel. We just left Namibia where we had eat a variety of game meat so I thought what the hell I should at least try camel. It wasn’t that bad! It was not gamey, not tough, it was in fact quite tender and tasted kind of bland. I don’t think it will become my go to meat dish but I would not gag if served it at a private residence and did not want to make the host feel bad.

Our flight to Luxor was with Egypt Air and we had to go through the domestic airport in Cairo. Maybe it was just the day but it was the single most annoying airport experience I have had. The night before the flight we tried to check in on line and there was some message that said there was ticket problem and we had to check in at the desk. When we arrived, we tried to use the kiosk and the same sort of message appeared. We had to pass through a security before we got to the check in counters. As we approached the x-ray machine some peon is asking me for money because, I don’t know???, he was going to help me put my bag on the conveyor???? He asked this standing under a sign indicating ‘do not pay anyone asking for money.’ I said no and continued on my way.

We get to the check in counter and the fellow at the desk looks completely puzzled at what came up on his screen. He didn’t explain anything, just picked up the phone and tried to hail what I presume was his supervisor. Seemed he go zero response. Soon we were asked to move to the person at the end of the counter. I think he was the supervisor. Egypt Air had cancelled our flight and we had no ticket. There is a flight at the same time but we were not on it. We were told we should have got an email, but we have not been out of email range for more than a day and we did not get any communication what so ever. We were told to take a seat and the fellow then proceeded to help the people in the line-up and ignored our issue all together. After a ½ and hour or so we did get boarding passes for the new flight and we told to proceed to security.

We arrive and were the only ones in line. The security person barked at us. Wait 10 minutes. There was no obvious reason other than they did not want to work. Another few people came up to the belt and got the same curt command. When we finally did get through, I was told to get the tray off the table and return it to the pile return pile. Sorry, not my job. I did finally run into a super nice fellow from Egypt Air at the gate. The last person of contact and it help get rid of the bad taste but I would not recommend the Cairo domestic airport if you can avoid it.

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