You know that saying?
My life just flashed before my eyes?
It must have originated somewhere in Cairo from the backseat of a taxi.
Each time you enter the unknown charted territory, otherwise known as a Cairo taxi, a travel advisory should be issued.
Enter at your own risk. Be forewarned.
First of all, you have to negotiate. Meter, meter and meter.
However, taxi driver wants money, money and money… preferably of the easy kind from the easy foreigner who does not understand how much to pay.
When the meter has been negotiated, you now wait in solemn silence to watch as the meter begins to tick upwards praying to the taxi gods that it ticks at the appropriate rate.
Not the rigged one that unsuspecting novices might not notice.
If it is rigged, you can protest, you can demand to get out, you can renegotiate money instead of meter or you can do as we did yesterday, cut the ride short and “not so politely but still polite enough to be Canadian” fork money over and stomp away!
In any case, a taxi ride in Cairo is never boring.
Zooming down the highway, way beyond the means of a broken down beat up taxi, we whip in and out of lanes barely missing the rear view mirrors of fellow cars. Jade and I exchange looks of panic and grasp for something, anything to hold onto as taxi driver dreams of winning the race, a race we didn’t know we had entered!
Yes, there are lines on the road. Yellow, like in other countries. Someone went to the trouble of painting them on the road. But why?
Maybe Cairo wanted to be like other cities. It wanted to fit in. It wanted lines, rules and drivers who follow rules.
But this is not what Cairo is.
Cairo is Cairo. The lines look nice. But mean nothing. Not one single thing.
I think they are meant as practice. To learn how to straddle them. To learn how to cross them going any and all speeds, as many times as you can. The crazier, the better.
So lines are out. And the horn is in.
To drive in Cairo is to honk. Simple as that.
So if you want to ride in taxis, hold on, pray a little and put the ear plugs in.
Armed with our Arabic taxi, small bills and a fierce determination to fit in, Jade and I have passed the beginner’s level in taxi and have now moved onto a more advanced one. Little did we know that this level meant driving right into oncoming cars!