CROSS LIKE AN EGYPTIAN
If there’s one thing that hits you immediately when you arrive in Cairo, almost literally, it’s the legendary traffic. It’s harrowing. Marked lanes mean nothing. Speed limits are a joke. Traffic signals are nonexistent. It’s a city-wide demolition derby and just getting behind the wheel is an act of faith. Even as a passenger you’re in for a white knuckles experience. But those are nothing compared with trying to cross a busy boulevard on foot. Attempting that is less an act of faith and more an act of suicide.
So what does one do to cross a bustling intersection or busy stretch of road? Actually it can be done without getting snagged in a life-sized game of Whac-A-Mole, with you as the mole. You tail one of the locals as he or she cuts across the torrent of traffic. Yep, you cross like an Egyptian. This observe-and-mimic method is useful in a lot of situations where you’re stumped on how to proceed—whether it’s how to flag down a waiter or haggle with a slick merchant. In the case of crossing traffic, it’s even better to be part of the action rather than imitate it. Throw caution to the wind, along with your life insurance, and follow someone else’s lead.
If you’re lucky and you confront the usual traffic jam, you can weave through the glacier-paced river of cars with relative ease. You can risk this on your own. Just ignore the horns. The incessant honking becomes comical after awhile, and it never stops. But if traffic is moving, amateurs need to follow in the footsteps of the pros. Do as they do and your chances of making it across rise above the odds at winning the lottery, which it kind of is when you think about it.
Cairo is a city of 20 million—one forth of the country’s entire population. And they all seem to own a car or drive a cab. Uber has grown tremendously here since it launched in 2014, but 98% of the people still use no form of public transportation. One way to beat the crunch is to drive a scooter, but a more recent one is UberBOAT. It’s a seasonal service using tiny motorboats to do an end-run around all the land clutter, and for less than a sluggish cab would cost. It turns out de Nile really is a river in Egypt. Why not cross it like an Egyptian?
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