Sunday, August 22, 2010

Indy 500 on the Streets of Cairo

Taxi in downtown Cairo

Or, regular commuting to work in Cairo.
This is the scariest thing I have ever experienced. It is SHOCKING how crazy people drive here. In Canada and NZ, these people would have had their licences removed for good, but here it’s the norm! Traffic rules are non-existent and signalling and headlights are only fancy decorations on your car. I have seen everything from mopeds (with a family of 4 on them) to cars from the 50’s to brand new Jeeps driving down the highway (as well as a pile of precariously stacked boxes of explosives, I kid you not!) The highway to my school is 5 lanes across, and at the best of times there are 7 cars across. They drive down the middle of the lanes as well...the white lines are decoration only. I could reach out the window and touch the other cars, which of course I don’t since we are going 90 km/hour. Then you add the people who are crossing the highway at random places and it gets hectic!

People honk for many reasons, and they seem to know what each honk means. Obeying the honk is something else. Short honk means I am passing you, I am coming up behind you, I am passing you on the shoulder, you are drifting into my lane, or I am going to squeeze into this small space. Longer honks mean you are not moving out of my way, you are going to crash into me, you are stopping and I don’t know why, get out of my way or we are in a traffic jam, I will just honk. Seriously.

Then there are the taxis. Taxis honk when they see a light skinned person like myself from down the street, then as the come up behind you, then as they pass and then again once they have passed…and then they back up and ask "Taxi?" Just in case I didn't hear them...

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