6/12/10: Cairo, Egypt
A lot of the places we’ve been have had insane traffic. Kevin, fearless and long-legged, adapted to this very quickly, and he was pretty much immediately able to cross crowded, eight-lane streets with ease. I, slow and panicky, took much longer to adapt. But by the time we got to Vietnam, I could generally cross a street without panicking, though Kevin usually had to wait for me for several minutes on the other side. It’s funny, because we had heard so many horror stories about crossing the streets in Hanoi, but by the time we got there, we had had so much practice that we were pros. Now fast forward five months to today. We walked around the city of Cairo, and I can say that this city is hands down, the absolute scariest place for pedestrians. It’s not because the traffic moves so fast (which it does), it’s not because pedestrians never have the right of way (which we don’t) and it’s not because no one follows the traffic “laws” (which they never do). The thing that makes Cairo ten times scarier than any other city is this: the cars don’t care if they run you over. They cut so close to you that even our no-fail method of crossing streets – following closely behind a local – well, it failed. Doing that here could get you run over. The cars – even when they see you, maybe especially when they see you, never slow down and never stop. There were at least two instances today where I saw my life flashing before my eyes. It’s like a really intense game of Frogger. Except you’re the one who might get smushed.
Isn’t it Hot Under There?!
Being a predominately Muslim country, I’d say from what we’ve seen, about 90% of the women in Cairo hijabs to cover their hair, and maybe another 5% wear burqas. I’m amazed by this. I just can’t fathom how hot it must be under there. This is Egypt. In June. It is NO-JOKE hot. It’s so hot I’m dreaming about cold showers. I’m sure they must be used to it, but to me it still seems crazy.
Kevin Can’t Stop Speaking Spanish
It’s not his fault. But it is pretty funny to see the look on an Egyptian’s face after having an entire conversation with Kevin in English and then at the end hear him casually say “gracias” and wave goodbye.
Aren’t Our Numbers Arabic?
We don’t have internet right now, so I can’t check up on this, but…I’m pretty sure I’ve been told before that our numbers are Arabic. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0. Arabic. So I was shocked today to find out that there are other Arabic numbers. Are these the new Arabic numbers and ours are the old ones? Are these the real Arabic numbers and our numbers not Arabic? Did Dan Brown LIE to me? There’s no end to the questions. But what makes this even more confusing is that some of these numbers look like our numbers, but they don’t symbolize the same value. For instance, a backwards three is our 4. Five looks like our 0, and six looks like our 7. As I learned this, my head immediately started swelling to the point of exploding. So I gave up learning the numbers and passed the sheet to Kevin and told him to memorize them. Hey, that’s what he’s here for.
Picture of the Day: Our only picture of Cairo thus far.