Friday, November 11, 2011

Arrival - 10 September 2011

Here I am, in Cairo, and very warm it is too! Compared to Liverpool, at any rate. According to the BBC, Egypt is on a state of alert due to the riot at the Israeli Embassy. I can't say I've noticed anything, last night or today.

There isn't very much to report at this stage beyond the fact I made it. This is more remarkable that it might seem, given my reintroduction to Middle Eastern driving was worse than I remember (or indeed, looking out of the window as we alternately hurtled round blind bends and dawdled up long straights, worse than most other drivers appeared to be). I was caught at the airport by a representative of Egypt's tourism authority, who offered me a taxi to Zamalek (the location of the Guest House) for 100 LE (Egyptian Pounds). This was more expensive than I might have expected to pay on a metered taxi, but given the advantage of having someone else carry my bags and being taken to a waiting car, I was willing to pay the premium - the first mistake! I was handed over to a porter, who led me to the other side of the airport car park (a big car park) and to the car that was meant to be taking me. At this point there was a twenty minute argument between the porter and the driver, complete with phone calls back to the representative who'd caught me in the first place. Though I couldn't understand them, the gist was clear: the designated driver didn't want to drive. Eventually, though, he grudgingly put my bags in the boot, I got into the car, and off we went - my second mistake! He might have been drunk or high, but I'm willing to go with the assumption that he was simply a bad driver in what appeared to be bad health. I suppose he could have been described as large, he was sweating excessively for the temperature, and periodically he would sort of groan, cough and rub his heart (the combined result of which was a weave through the lanes, and many angry tooting of horns from other drivers). He also appeared to be constantly on the verge of nodding off (and again, this resulted in some weaving). And then there was his erratic speed, which appeared to bear no relation to the condition of the road, the volume of traffic or anything else I could comprehend. 

I'm probably being very uncharitable - after all, we made it, which in Cairo seems to require more skill than one would think! Maybe it's a defensive mechanism: if one behaves like an awful driver, perhaps other drivers will give you a wider berth. Or maybe not.

The Guest House is very pleasant. It's situated next to the Cathedral, and just down the road from the Marriot Hotel. This means that as a pro, I have a wonderful view of the Cathedral from my window. As a con, taxis round here charge extra...

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