Monday, January 17, 2011

The Chaos of Cairo

Pyramid and the Sphinx

As we were flying into Cairo, we were peering out of the aeroplane window frantically trying to get a glimpse of the famed pyramids in the dying light of the Egyptian sunset. Unfortunately Cairo was blanketed by a thick haze of smog, making it difficult to see anything from the viewpoint of the plane. We had a transfer car pick us up to drop us off at our accommodation, the Pharaoh Hotel in Dokki. The transfer company sent us a driver and a guide/translator, she was friendly girl who told us about the buildings we were passing as we went along.

Nile View from Pharaoh Hotel Restaurant

The newly redeveloped area near the airport and President’s Cairo residence was a stark contrast to the 3rd world reality of the rest of the city. Cairo is a chaotic jumble of unfinished buildings, transport, sand, people, rubbish, noises, and smells and of course the Nile. The transport and traffic is another whole insane story. Cars, camels, donkeys and trucks are all vying for a space on the overcrowded roads with no rules. Traffic signals and lanes are not even acknowledged let alone adhered to. Somehow all this manages to function in its own crazy way.

The streets of Cairo

Our guide told us ‘The traffic here has its own flow and you need to drive with that flow, if you were to drive according to the road rules in Egypt, that is when you would get into an accident’. I think this a great metaphor for this city that defies any definition. In Egypt you need to go with the flow and do what feels right because if you don’t that’s when something will go wrong.

Traditional feluccas on the Nile

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