Tuesday, April 06, 2010

An Interesting Taxi Ride in Cairo

My family went to the sound & light show at the Giza pyramids, which was a rather cheesy but somewhat interesting tourist trap – but that’s not the subject of this post. After the show, we exited through the gate and were immediately approached by a man who asked “Taxi?” We had indeed planned on taking a taxi back to the hotel, and we knew how much the taxi ride should cost, so Amy replied by telling him where we wanted to go and that we would pay 40 Egyptian pounds (about $8). He agreed to the price, which Amy confirmed the price once again, adding “No baksheesh!” (baksheesh is the tips and small “bribes” that are all too common.) “Ok, no baksheesh.”

He now led us past the parking lot packed with huge tour buses to a dark side street where we found an ancient Fiat waiting for us. It looked almost as old as the pyramids, and in much worse condition. He opened the back door first, then reached forward to open the front passenger door from the inside – presumably the outside handle was broken. Turning the key in the ignition resulted only in silence. “No problem!” he exclaimed, and then he push started the car. He pulsed his headlights on but then turned them off again. Inexplicably, many people here drive at night without headlights.

A few minutes later, we found ourselves wandering down narrow, dark, dirt alleyways, barely wide enough for the ancient fiat and a passing horse cart. At this point I noticed that the odor of exhaust, one that I thought might pass shortly after the car started, still persists. To my relief we reached the main road, and shortly afterward, the elevated expressway. Cars and buses were flying by us as the little car struggled to accelerate – still with no headlights on. We reached the Fiat’s terminal velocity – approximately 60 km/hr (38 MPH) – 5 minutes later, about the same time we reach our exit. After several more miles on city streets, we safely reached our hotel. Miraculous! I felt like I had done my good deed for the day; this guy needed the $8 much more than I did.

No comments: