Whenever you travel internationally, especially as an American or someone from a “rich” country visiting a “poor” country, you will inevitably be humbled by your experience and begin to appreciate the luxuries you have in life.
For me those newly appreciated luxuries were clean, free bathrooms with fully stocked toilet tissue (see “L is for Luxor,” linked at the end of this post) and strict traffic laws.
Because lemme tell you… seeing Cairo traffic was truly a culture shock!
The roads were jam-packed with cars and motorcycles and people weaving in and out. There was the persistent ringing of the car horn. There were people hopping into moving taxis, and, of course, we couldn’t avoid the occasional peddler banging on our window.
One guy, in particular, scared Mom half to death because it was night and she didn’t see him until his whole face was touching the window. Mind you, we were in moving traffic! He could have easily gotten hurt! I initially thought that maybe he was trying to catch a ride, but then, as a native, wouldn’t he know the difference between a taxi and a tour bus? Then the light bulb went off. Oh, he wants money.
From that night on, we closed the curtains inside our van to avoid making eye contact with anyone who might mistake our friendly-looking faces for gullible targets.
It sounds bad, but we were simply following the instructions of Tour Guide, who said, “I know it looks mean, but don’t give them any money.”
Views from inside our tour bus (photos by Mom)
The best way I can describe Cairo traffic is organized chaos. Chaos because there was nary a street light or street sign to be seen. Cars just turned into oncoming traffic with the expectation that they would not get hit. Drivers honked their horns to let you know they were coming into your lane whether you let them in/were aware of them or not. And speaking of lanes, there weren’t any! At least not in old Cairo.
And yet, despite all of this, according to Tour Guide, there aren’t many wrecks. Now that is impressive, especially when you compare it to North Carolina, where there’s a 10-car pile-up on the highway at the sight of a single snowflake.
Brother couldn’t miss the opportunity to make fun of my traffic anxiety (lingering PTSD from previous accidents on the highway). “Nortina would have a heart attack trying to drive in this!” he said.
Ha! That’s where you’re wrong, Brother. I would never even attempt to drive in this traffic. I’m just thankful our travel agency covered our transportation, because navigating those “scary” Cairo streets on our own by car or on foot, especially when we didn’t speak a word of Arabic, was completely out of the question.
“A” is for Arrival
“B” is for Buyer’s Remorse
“C” is for Cruisin’ the River Nile
“D” is for Delays, Delays, Delays
“E” is for Empty Tombs
“F” is for Fragrance
“G” is for Great Pyramid of Giza
“H” is for Hatshepsut
“I” is for Island Temple of Philae
“J” is for Just Engaged!
“K” is for Kom Ombo
“L” is for Luxor
“M” is for Museums and Mummies
“N” is for Nefertari
“O” is for Osiris, Set, and Horus: Gods of Egypt
“P” is for Pizza Hut Fail
“Q” is for Queen Cleopadrat
“R” is for Ramesses
“S” is for Seti I
This April for the A to Z Challenge, I’m sharing my experience of traveling to Egypt last month. These posts likely won’t be in chronological order, depending on what memory each letter strikes up, but if you’d like to follow me on this journey, subscribe below.
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9 thoughts on “Nortina’s Egyptian Travel Diaries (#AtoZChallenge): “T” is for Traffic”
Your post refreshed some great memories for me, thank you! I lived in Egypt for a good few years and experienced that traffic pretty often. 🙂 Adore Egypt and its deep history n culture and even deeper hospitality. Here from the A-Z, all the best for the home stretch!
Looks scary to me too.
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I was so nervous!
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