Saturday, March 17, 2007

In Cairo

Cairo is a large, exciting, dangerous city. That's pretty much the best way to describe it. From a crime perspective, it's probably safer than anywhere in the US, but crossing the road --- well, let's just say that it falls under the classification of "skill" rather than "normal everyday activity." Of course, you have no choice -- at some point, you must cross a road. Which of course, leads me to

How to cross the road in Egypt

  1. Look both ways. In disbelief.
  2. Look to see if there are any Egyptians nearby crossing the road. If there are, follow them unless they're standing in the road, in which case their route across the road may have a path wide enough for one person only.
  3. Scan the cars coming towards you in the first. Is there a distance of at least 2 car lengths between two of the cars? NO? How about one? There's your space.
  4. Wait until the first car has passed, then casually walk through the gap between the two cars, pretending that a huge car is not hurtling toward you. If you run, you will only encourage them to drive faster. Also, you have another lane to cross after this, so if you run you might overrun the middle of the road and get run over by the second lane of cars.
  5. Okay, you are now between two lanes of cars, who will run smoothly around you. Try not to panic. Look for a space as in step 3. When it appears, you have two options: a) casually walk across again, looking smooth, cool and Egyptian; or b) run for it, looking for all the world like a terrified foreigner.
  6. I always choose b.
I just want friends and family to know that I really am safe, and I only have to cross roads like this 3-4 times a day maximum. In general roads in Egypt are stuffed with cars going so slowly that you can glide in and out of them like a game of Frogger in slow motion.

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