There is so much to say, and write, about our first week in Cairo. So much, and still so few words.
Our internet connection is far from steady. It works, from time to time, and we are glad it actually works at all since the area we’re staying in is far from finished building. Fact is, there are empty lots just around the corner and several neighbouring houses have a loooong way to go before they’re done. We could write ‘ loooong way to go before someone can live there’, but that would be a lie. People actually do live in what looks like building grounds or sceletons of a house. Behind some curtains people are sleeping, they use simple toilets out on the street and cook their food over an open fire or a grill.
So, we’re lucky to have internet working, we’re more than lucky to live in a nice apartment with a small garden, a fully equipped kitchen, great shower, hot and cold water from the tap, comfortable furniture, an outdoor jacuzzi, television, pool table, Play Station… Well, a perfectly modern, comfortable home. In here we’re safe, keep warm and get to eat and drink whatever we wish every day.
After a day down town Cairo we’re even more aware of the conditions people live under here. And the ones living in the building sites around the corner from us are not the ones moving in when the houses are done – it’s usually the builders and their families living on the site while building.
So, we’re taking care of the place and a small dog and two fishes while the owners are away. A perfect house/pet sit for us – sunshine every day, around 20 degrees Celsius and possibilities to go around and explore the area and the local culture while being here.
Honestly though, the exploring part is challenging. Just to get places by taxi is an adventure – there seem to be no rules whatsoever. Really.
We thought French traffic was fast, a bit rough and hard to get in to. Now, French roads seem like a dream!
Sometimes people drive against the traffic in roundabouts, you simply drive where there is a free spot… It doesn’t matter if that’s in the opposite lane or what. There are no traffic lights; so if you’re going into a crossing the appropriate thing would be to honk the horn to signal “stay out of my way”, sort of.
We’ve made trips to different shopping malls, both local ones and one very “American”, Festival City, a huge mall with Ikea, H&M, Starbucks, Carrefour, Costa Coffee, Gant, Mango, Victoria’s Secret, Samsonite and lots and lots more.
Yesterday’s trip was to Cairo Tower. One of Cairo’s famous sights, and a good place to get a view of the city from 187 meters up in the sky. After the visit to the tower, we went for a walk and were “greeted” by quite a few people wanting to sell things, invite us to their friend’s souvenir shop, offer us a boat ride on the Nile, someone even tried to scare us by saying it wasn’t safe for us to walk in a specific area… and should we have stopped he’d invited us to his friend’s store or offer a taxi ride or something.
You know what’s really frustrating about this? That some of those people have taken on a role play to trick tourists into their game – they might say they’re a doctor, not some seller on the street, or they might start the conversation by saying ‘I don’t want any tips, I just want to talk to you and give some advice’. So it’s gone beyond “Do you need a taxi?”, or “I have beautiful souvenirs you can buy”, instead some are trying to convince us of their “innocence” and how trustworthy they are so we can rely on their advice and expertise.
For a couple of Swedes like us, who value being truthful and living honestly, it’s new and rather frustrating not to be able to trust the ones we meet, and to walk around wondering if we’ve been fooled again. This actually makes it hard to take in what the city is really about, instead we wanted to get out of there and go back home.
These experiences are ones we had never thought of when going here, and nothing we could have understood without actually being here. One of the things we like with travelling is to learn more about the world, about us and about life. That’s what’s happening right now.
// Anders & Wivan