Saturday, January 30, 2010

Whirlwind Cairo


I arrived in Cairo at 4pm in a sleep-deprived daze. After insisting to the taxi drivers awaiting outside that I did indeed have a ride to my apartment, I found myself helplessly searching for my roommate to come whisk me away. After 30 minutes of confusion, borrowing a phone for desperate calls, and negotiating the terms of my wifi usage with airport staff, my roommates finally found me. We made several attempts to catch white taxi cabs outside only to have a police officer come by each time and demand that the cab driver leave.
At this point, I was beyond confused when a cabbie jumped out of his waiting cab hidden strategically in front of a larger bus and told us to hurry inside. We ran to his cab, threw my luggage atop and hopped in as if we were on the run! I was already daydreaming about the blessed sleep I'd get at our apartment! The cabbie shifts the car into gear and we looked up only to find the police officer glaring at us from the driver side window...My heart stopped, thoughts of Egyptian police's lack of regard for minor things like due process and human rights are already running through my head. My roommates try to defuse the situation in broken Arabic... So what does the driver do, he offers the cop a bribe...Without hesitation, The cop takes the money, words are exchanged, and suddenly the mood has lightened and he is waving us on our way with a smile...Oh Egypt...finally I can exhale :)


Kashia said...

Well damn. Sounds like Central America. Good luck love!

Mr. Consistently Inconsistent said...

I should have given you a better number. Keep the number of the yellow cabs handy!!! They use a meter and are generally nicer. Sorry you had to deal with, but that is actually a pretty good intro to the chaos :D

Frenchie said...

lol, you didn't give me a number at all! I think the airport was a microcosm of Egypt in general

VegasSeven said...

Great blog. I am enjoying reading it. lol @ hot showers are a luxury. I take as many showers as I can in the States. And to this day, sometimes I am still nervous that the water is going to suddenly turn cold or brown from the mud over running the water supply. Very few people understand that, but you do. lol . I will comment later on the blogs.

Frenchie said...

I'm glad you are enjoying it! I've enjoyed reflecting "aloud" here lol. I almost forgot the brisk reality of a cold shower after being in the US so long! Now in Egypt,every time I turn the knob now, I pray lol. Sometimes I wish I'd taken the easy route and lived in the modern suburbs like the other ex-pats but I enjoy Cairo's constant reality check!

Concept said...

It was disspointing and frustrating to read about the lack of African culture in that area. Like you, I was also anticipating updates about a different first impression and experience. One that would help you develop a stronger self identity from a direct connection to our past... :-(

Your description of Cairo was interesting. Again, not what I would have imagined at all. The the details of all the trash and pollution in the streets contradicted my initial thoughts and assumptions of the environment you would be studying in. However, the sense of communal unity during the daily prayers was delightful to read...

The cop and taxi situation scared me for a sec! Why can't foreigners ride in cabs? Or are the cabs not allowed there at all?

The case of your roomie's boyfriends... smh... that was ridiculous! :-/

Girl yes! Miami will definitely give you a crash course on how to duck and dodge the perves and harrassments so keep doing what you know best lol That part of your blog cracked me up!

As for the hair situation- a suitcase full! ... lol! Well done! ;-)

Frenchie said...

Concep: I didn't specifically come to Egypt looking for a connection to the past so I wasn't as disappointing as others. I want to travel to Ghana or Senegal to the sites where the slave ships set sail from for a true connection to the past. I think a strong sense of self and identity is important in this environment b/c Egypt can be a land of contradictions. Also, I will be traveling to the South where the Nubians live in Aswan. I really hope to get a chance to chat with a few people down there and see if the vibe is different then in Cairo.

I will begin working w/ Sudanese refugees soon and,unfortunately, I expect that I will encounter some other situations like the one I described.

I really didn't know what to expect when I arrived. I knew that Cairo was not a developed nation but I didn't know how this would be reflected in the city itself. The trash piles and men w/o work lingering around in Cairo are in sharp contrast to the gorgeous and uninviting homes outside of the city. I think thee 2 images are indicative of the income disparities here.

The cop and the taxi scared me too!!! LOL. There are white cabs and black cabs here so I'm not certain if he wasn't allowed in that section of the airport or if the cop was just being a prick.

My hair used to suffer the MOST when I traveled (try finding someone who does black hair in Seoul!) so it's been a blessing to learn how to take care of it on my own. My mother's only concern when I go abroad is whether or not I return w/ damaged hair smh lol

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