An Outsider’s Guide to Driving in Egypt

Bringing back to America the concepts of no lanes, no crosswalks, no driving tests, and all about madness on the roads of Cairo.

An Outsider’s Guide to Driving in Egypt

I’m writing this from the back seat of cab heading from downtown Cairo to Zamalek.  My driver just smashed a side view mirror off another cab. This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced this. In fact, my record so far in one cab ride is three accidents. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The traffic in Cairo is a truly amazing site. It’s either a complete jam, or wide open. I’ve yet to experience anything in between, nor to learn how to anticipate which it will be. I’m already 20 minutes late for a lunch meeting (sorry, Farida!), but I’ve been assured that by “Egyptian time” standards I’m quite alright. I initially thought the lack of promptness here was an artifact of the generally laid-back culture, now I see it as more of a psychological survival tactic.

Traffic. Is. Chaos.

Last night I was told that fatalities by car here are in the top per capita worldwide (Number one! Number one! Number one!). I haven’t fact-checked this, nor do I plan on it, but I have little doubt in my mind that it is true. Here are a few reasons why that might be: Continue reading → “An Outsider’s Guide to Driving in Egypt”


Landing in Egypt, Slammed with Culture

Against the odds, I am safely in my hostel.

Landing in Egypt, Slammed with Culture

I arrive in the airport in Cairo at 2am on Thursday. I’ve been traveling since 9am Tuesday. Three hours to Houston, ten or so to Amsterdam, layover for the day there (Pancakes! Walking the canals! Coffee shops!), then a four hour flight to Cairo.

Leaving the airport, I get hailed into a cab that I thought was occupied. In the front two seats are the driver, his wife, and two children. In the back seat is a third child. The kids all have paint on their faces, red and black for the boy, red and white for the two little girls.

“Do you speak English?” I ask. I try in Arabic. “Bititkallim ingileezi?”

“Yes, yes. Taxi? Get in.”

“I’m going to Dina’s Hostel. Know it?”

“Yes, yes, hotel. Get in. Welcome.”

Then we start driving. We’re flying through what little traffic there is. To the right there is a moped that has three men riding on it. I’m impressed. To the left there’s another moped with three men riding and one is holding a suitcase. Now I’m disappointed in the first moped. Continue reading → “Landing in Egypt, Slammed with Culture”