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The First Day – A Bus Ride

Posted by: Jon D. Haff | May 31, 2011 | 2 Comments |

Finally I made it to Cairo after waking up at 4 in the morning 2 days ago. After flying to Portland, Oregon and waiting 2 hours, flying to Los Angeles and waiting 2 hours, flying into New York at 11:30 at night, waiting on the Tarmac another hour the next day, and then sitting on an airplane for another 10 hours, I landed in Cairo, Egypt.

Upon arrival, the group of us eager Americans had to wait about another hour to get our baggage (of course mine was the last bag…figures). Then, we walked out to meet Ustath Lo in hustle bustle of the Cairo Airport. It took a little while to find our ride, but eventually we began the 25 minute drive towards the center of Cairo and where we would be staying in Garden City. The ride over was fun for all of us, seeing as it was our first experience of the city, and it was quite enjoyable to observe the Egyptian driving from our relatively safe perch in the bus.

Egyptian driving has an ordered craziness to it, much like an anthill. Thousands of people in tiny whizzing cars and mopeds traverse the vast expanse of Cairo with practically no rules, and we were in a bus in the middle of it all. Traffic was thick and busy; everyone had places to go. As we went farther along the road there formed on both sides of us a magical lane, one that would never exist in any western society. But, in Egypt, this middle lane between two lanes became a reality.

Cars followed the middle of the dotted line and snuck there way through traffic, barely missing scraping along the side of our bus. Somehow, through remedial honking and no signaling, the traffic was able to flow pretty regularly. We really did not need to stop all that much, and only slowed down in a couple places.

We made it to our destination, passing honking cars, yelling people, armored transports, guards wielding AK-47′s, beautiful embassies, towering mosques, regal churches, shining new buildings, and old rundown apartments. Even riding the bus was an incredible experience, with many more yet to come on this adventure that has only just begun.

under: Week 1

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Hey Jonathan: I have a hunch that the “magical middle lane” will become a metaphor for you over the summer. I look forward to learning more about what you see in that “magical space that could never exist in Western society.” Thanks for taking the time to write so soon after arrival–and for including a few shots too.

Watch for how people park their cars in Egypt. They leave them in neutral and create row after row. And if you are in the inside row, then you push cars out of the way, since they are all parked in neutral.

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