Egyptian Epiphanies

 is for Egypt

My strongest memory of Egypt will always be linked to sheer, raw terror. The scariest experience of my life happened there when I visited as a 20-year-old college student.

No. Mummies didn’t chase me from the tombs.

And I wasn’t cursed in a pyramid.

And NO. A Nile crocodile didn’t chase me in my felucca.

Stop trying to guess already. You’ll never figure it out until you read the next sentence.

I crossed a street.

Yes, like the chicken did.

I don’t need to watch scary movies. I’ve experienced all of them in that one single act of crossing that street in Cairo.

Streets in Egypt (at least 20 years ago) were terrifying.  Lanes on the road meant nothing to any of the thousands of cars driving like maniacs. The rules in Egypt for drivers seemed to amount to only this:

  • Go as fast as possible
  • Squish in whatever space you can find (even if a pedestrian takes up part of that space)
  • Honk your horn (because it’s there)

Egypt 016My friends and I were on one side of the road and wanted to get to a museum on the other side of the road. The road happened to have 6 lanes. Now a six lane road in America is a daunting task, but cars follow rules, stay in lanes, and there are crosswalks.

In Egypt, cars followed only the 3 rules above, so there ended up being 20 lanes going every which way in those 6 lanes, and horns made me deaf. So without hearing, I had to go with my sense of sight alone. And my eyes told me this:

There is NO way you can cross that road.

And so I whimpered and told my friends we couldn’t go to the museum because we couldn’t get across the road. Unfortunately for me, my friends weren’t cowards—they were chickens (and chickens like to cross roads, as we all know from the jokes).

Egypt 027So they clucked and yanked me from the sidewalk, and I closed my eyes and prayed that I would somehow live to see another day.

Obviously, I did…because I’m writing this letter E post. But I am still scarred for life from that one time across an Egyptian road of madness.

Cluck!

Char Signature

42 thoughts on “Egyptian Epiphanies

  1. Ooh, ooh! I have something relevant to say to this one! I am part Egyptian! Oh yes! My maternal grandmother was French-Egyptian and was born and raised there, and my mother was born there until they all moved to England when my mother was a child. I haven’t actually been there myself though, but I really want to in order to see some of my ancestry…or do I mean heritage? I don’t know what I mean now, but either way I will be sure to take care if I cross any roads!

    • That’s so cool. And I think ancestry and heritage would both work. She’s your ancestor and part of your heritage. I hope you get there some day. The history all over the place is astounding. Overwhelming, actually. But that road did scare the beejeebees out of me.

  2. I lived in Egypt about a year in Cairo, Alexandria and a smaller town in between those two. Crossing streets in Egypt hasn’t changed and I doubt it ever will. All you can do is GO, dance with the cars, and pray those savvy drives will compensate. It most definitely is terrifying. I’m finding little difference in India. The same lack of rules of the road, or maybe more correctly the more subtle and in-the-moment rules, apply. Interestingly, there don’t seem to be any more accidents (maybe even less so) than in the States.

    • Yes, I would imagine India would be a lot the same. I did notice that more cars in Israel and Egypt had lots of dents in them. Someone told me no one calls fender benders into the insurance is the reason why. Who knows? That is interesting that there isn’t more accidents than in the States. Do we drive faster here, I wonder?

  3. Sounds like crossing the road required the same wild abandon and daring as driving there–taking a deep breath and having quick reaction times and reflexes. Hmmmm, I hope there are not any drunk drivers or road crossers in Egypt!

    • Drunkenness would add another frightening aspect to the mix. I never drove there (thank goodness), but you’re right…it would be the same thing as walking/running across a road.

  4. Haha, starting off with mummies! Not that I don’t love them.

    I’d like to visit Egypt if my health were stronger. It’s such a fascinating time for them, the potential of an enormous revolution in their politics and culture swirling amidst a few social bodies.

    • Glad you enjoyed the mummy. Egypt’s politics and economy boggle my mind. When I studied it back in January, it made my head hurt. They have so many underlying problems to work out before stability can come.

  5. Let’s hope Egypt has some better pedestrian crossings now. Especially if they want to improve the dip they’re tourism numbers have taken over the past couple years. (Just read an article on that in the paper yesterday. Don’t I sound smart now?…)

  6. WOW – That would be a daunting task as well as scary! The town I live in is not pedestrian or bike friendly at times. The wild horses sometimes have better signs for crossing than the pedestrians here – scary! Here’s to a Safe and Fun Weekend:) By the way – loving these posts!!!

    • Your town is biased toward horses. In Egypt, they’re biased toward water buffalo. I wasn’t one, unfortunately. Have a super weekend, and thanks for hanging in with me during this alphabetic challenge.

  7. Loved this post! We lived in Korea for a year and a half while my hubby was active duty military and I experienced something similar. The little white lines painted on the roadways are clearly only there for decoration–or maybe Koreans think paint spilled on the roadway, I’m not sure. Either way, they’re certainly not there to help them obey traffic rules! So scary! Glad you made it across the road!

    • Me too. My husband thinks other countries (3rd world) are bad at staying in the lines because cars are more of a new thing. Like what drivers in America would have been like in 1920…except thankfully, there weren’t that many back then to cause such a ruckus. Who knows…or maybe people in other countries are more rebels and don’t like to follow lines like we do.

  8. The roads were very similar in Mexico City when I was in graduate school. At times I thought it would be safer to take a cab from one side of the road to the other!

    • A cab would have made me feel safer. At least if you get crashed into, there is a little something between you and the other car

  9. My friend who lived in India for 2 years always told us about how scary it is to be on the roads there so I can only imagine how scary that was for you!! Makes me feel even more blessed to be in this country!

    • That’s 2 of the same comments for India today. I guess the one thing Egypt has going for it over India is that it doesn’t have man-eating tigers.

  10. LOL! I was sure you’d been chased by a mummie! The roads in Egypt sound pretty dangerous. In Australia you get used to cars stopping to let you cross (most of the time) so I think I’d be very afraid of crossing an Egyptian road, Char. I’m so glad you survived! 😀

    • I kept waiting for the mummy to rise up and chase me (after watching those silly Mummy movies), but no such luck. Just scary cars.

    • Ha ha! That’s one way of looking at it. Actually, the hieroglyphics there are amazing, especially at Luxor. The ones all over the pillars there stunned me.

    • I’m sure NYC would scare me too. I don’t have the right kind of chicken blood in me that makes me like crossing roads.

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