Saturday, August 07, 2010

Finding Your Way Home in Cairo

If you're thinking that this is a picture of rush hour in Cairo, THINK AGAIN!

This is the phenomenon known as the Cairo traffic jam.  It could happen morning, noon, and night - sometimes lasting for a few minutes or maybe a few hours.

It can be a bit daunting to enter a world like this.  And even more overwhelming when you think about trying to find your way home through the chaos.

I think that the "aha" moment when I realized I was finally feeling at home in Cairo came when I could get from Point A to Point B without having to stop for directions.  Granted, I was in a taxi most of the time and it would seem like Cairo taxi drivers should know their way around the city better than most.  But when the taxi driver stops for directions, this can really shake your confidence in your ability to get where you want to be going.

Now I think I surprise the drivers with how well I know my way around Cairo.

I mean, here I am, this crazy foreigner lugging an 8-month old around on one arm and a folded-up stroller in the other.  I wouldn't be surprised if they take one look at me and think..."Here's another silly foreigner who won't know if I take the long way around..."

And then I open my mouth to speak.

And boy do I speak!

See not only do I speak Arabic, but I think I can safely say that I speak it fairly well.  That fact alone shocks the (well you know what I mean) out of them.

So as soon as I get in the door, I am telling them exactly which route I want to take.  And though they seem a bit skeptical at first, I am polite but firm so they usually do things my way.  I have no patience to deal with another driver who gets stuck in an extra 20 minutes of traffic just for going the way that EVERYONE knows is ALWAYS busy.

Oh, and I just hate it when they play dumb.

Hey buddy, I'M the one with the 8-month-old trying to falling asleep in my arms!

Plus they don't know that I am married to the KING of finding the most uncrowded way home.  I mean, my husband and I find every traffic obstacle as an opportunity to showcase our creative navigational talents.  I would say that we do this for fun, but it's more that we do it out of necessity.  We see a traffic jam in front of us, and we immediately start brainstorming alternate routes.  Sometimes I laugh that we never take the same way home twice.

So it's no wonder that the taxi drivers are so surprised at how well I know my way around town.  How could they possibly know?

Yes, knowing how to get around Cairo wasn't easy.  But once I did, I was just one step closer to feeling at home here in this amazing city.


  1. One thing I love about this post is that I can see you in my head explaining it in person. So when you said "..and I just HATE it when they play dumb" I laughed out loud. Love you!

  2. Thanks Chels! I'm glad you feel that way because that is exactly how I hoped it would be. =)


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