It has been a while since I have been to Cairo, so I have decided it was time for a visit. Obviously I did not realise how looooong it has been till it was time to cross a main road in downtown Cairo and ohh boy was I in for a surprise!

First of, let me describe the atmospeher in Cairo. A thick foggy toxic cloud hangs heavy in the air. It has a unique scent of car fumes and Grilled kabab! 

Screaming car horns is what visitors to Cairo notice.  Drivers use their horns for many reasons.  It could be it mean ‘’watch out,’’ ‘’get out of my way’’,’’you are moron and I am gonna run you over” or simply to express their happyness/anger that their football team  won/lost! 

I have witnessed several arguments and fights in the middle of traffic jams with people getting out of their vehicles to have a huge screaming match and sometimes exchanging blows.  What does this mean for traffic?  Traffic comes to a screeching halt.

Which leads me to my next point, crossing the streets in Cairo. On my first day I was out in downtown Cairo. Being the organized guy I am, I have found a zebra crossing and went there for crossing. I waited for cars to stop. They did not. I thought perhaps the drivers were waiting for traffic light to turn red. The lights truned red, green, red, green and red again, yet, no cars stopped at all!

As I stood there in the heat and dust enhaling carbon dioxide and pondering the meaning of life and possible ways of crossing this road, an old man asked me, what are you doing? So I shared with him, my disre to cross this road.

The man laughed, laughed and then laughed some more. I thought he was having a heart attack. But no, it was a laughter indeed. He said no one uses these crossings. They are there for pure decoration. So I asked him, how do you propose we cross this 6 lane road??

He said follow me. What he did next was something I saw done only once before, in an old video game where a chicken tries to cross the road, and it usually does after being run over 22 times!

The man walked between cars, resversed a few times, moved sideways a couple of times, raised his hands a few times and just when I thought he was certain to be run over by that speeding bus, he managed to miss it and make it to the finish line .. umm I mean the other side of the road!

One word comes to mind .. AMAZING!

Now it was my turn as I stood on the other side of the street. I knew it was crazy but now my image was stake as I saw old women, young kids cross the street in the same manner. My inner macho voice screamed GO!

And go I did. I closed my eyes, said my prayers and stepped forward. What happened next seemed like a flash as it happened very quickly. I remember a couple of vans zooming by, a few screaming taxi drivers, a few loud horns and a  bus speeding towards me.  My life flashed infront of me as I thought my chances of making it to the other side was slim! Amazingly enough I managed to miss them all and make it to the other side .. of the street!

Sometimes we take the simplest things for granted. Crossing the street in Cairo is an art that reqires cat like reflexes, endurance, faith and suicidal tendencies!

The only rule on the streets in Cairo is NO RULES!  It is free for all with an anything goes mentality.  There are cars everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE, coming at you from ALL directions, some drivers reverse the wrong way down a road if they’ve missed their turn and people park wherever they want.  There is no order; in one word it is chaotic. 

After asking around I was given a couple of helpful tips.  I was told to make direct eye contact with the driver to let him or her know that I will be crossing the road no matter what.  Another piece of advice was to walk next to a Cairo native as he/she crossed because chances are they are better trained in the deadly art of road crossing (just make sure he/she is closer to the cars for cushion!). So far these tips have made the crossing an easier task!

Road cossing in Cairo is an art which should be made into an olympic sport!

Do you have a similar traffic issues in your city?  Please feel free to share with us any heroic road crossing adventures you may have had.

In the meantimes, my next vacation, I am going somewhere where the are NO CARS .. Vience perhaps!


7 Responses to Crossing the road in Cairo – Sunday 25th April

  1. Ibrahim
    Apr 29, 2010

    hahaha! This is a funny post! Having lived in Cairo for a few years I can relate to the post! Crossing streets in Caio is an adventure!

  2. Egyptian Rose
    Apr 29, 2010

    I hate streets crossing in cairo. sometimes I call a taxi just to get me to the other side of the street!!!!!! sad huh

  3. Marwan
    May 01, 2010

    I never been to Cairo, but I can tell you that traffic here in Seattle is probably is just as bad. I think most big cities have the same issue.

  4. Disco Queen
    May 04, 2010

    @Marwan: I have lived in Seattle and lived in Cairo and I promise you there is no comparrison between both! Cairo’s traffic is on a diffeeent level lol

    Great blog by the way.

    Disco Queen

  5. Imam
    May 13, 2010

    hahaha! This is one funny blog! but also sad because it is so tru bout our streets here in a cairo. but life insurance before crossing street ok? 🙂

  6. Adel
    May 14, 2010

    you forgot to mention donkey drawn carriages hauling garbage and pedestrians sharing roads with cars

  7. Halla
    Jun 02, 2010

    Traffic in Cairo is just out of control. I try to never go to centeral cairo unless I really have to. but outside cairo it is not very bad. funny story!

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