Life From the Back of An Egyptian Taxi

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!


A Day Trip From Cairo

It was confirmed yesterday that I am the world’s worst history student.

I am living in Egypt and despite a very talented tour guide, I struggle to retain historical facts. So as we ventured outside Cairo to visit more pyramids in the Saqqarah and Dahshur areas, I was probably more enamoured with the green fields, the date palm trees, the camels, the goats, the sheep and the donkey carts of everyday life in Egypt. Do I have pictures of those? Of course not. But someday… I will manage to get a few.

In the meantime, we saw a lot, we learned a lot and well… I retained a little. Jade braved the “bent down steep incline into a pyramid” while I waited outside. I did venture into one pyramid that involved “less folding over” and was rewarded by my first sighting of hieroglyphics. The pyramids are far from the hustle and bustle of Cairo, set quietly and elegantly in the desert.

Egypt is so much more than its pyramids but it is its pyramids that make it unique and extra special. Overall, a fascinating country with a history that amazes and confuses me daily!

How To Survive The Pyramids And Stay Sane

Strange title eh?

My dad, a world traveller, hated Cairo because of the pyramids. Why?

The pyramids come with an army of touts and for those who don’t know what a tout is, they are people whose living depends on tourism but their approach can vary. Some touts will listen to you and others simply won’t. The touts at the pyramids have a reputation for being some of the most persistent in the world. For travellers who don’t enjoy the hassle, this can be concerning.

So I have wondered how I would manage the touts and still admire the pyramids in peace.

Tuck away any desire to politely respond and simply ignore them completely.

Do not look at them. Do not look at what they are selling. Do not respond. Move away from them if necessary.

Kind of surprisingly, this worked for Jade and I.

We saw the pyramids in peace albeit a very hot and sweaty peace!


It was a surreal experience that hasn’t really sunk in yet. All of a sudden, you emerge from the urban sprawl of Giza on the other side of the Nile River from Cairo and there they are. Just sitting there, famously, waiting to be admired. Despite having a guide to explain the history of them (or the many versions of stories attached to them) the information didn’t sink in as I stared at them in wonder.

The pyramids, right there, in front of my eyes and I couldn’t seem to absorb them.


Maybe for the first time, I have found a tourist site that really needs returning to after having researched them thoroughly. Maybe this will help to “take it in”. Maybe the pyramids just need to be seen more than once to fully admire their grandeur, their presence, their age.

At least Jade and I now know one thing. We are definitely in Egypt!

(And for those of you who have heard the stories of the garbage around the pyramids, I am very happy to report that the garbage has mostly been cleaned up thanks to the government’s decision to implement such needed changes.)

Have you experienced touts before? What was your worst experience with them?

Cairo: A Felucca On The Nile

So as the heat wave continues, we ventured out to the Nile for some respite. I am not sure a breeze was actually felt, but seeing the water cooled us down…slightly.

It is hard to get your head wrapped around the “This is the Nile River!” fact as water is water but the surroundings made it known that we were indeed in Egypt. Looking out to the shore, it was easy to decipher that this was no river in Canada. Palm trees, brown sandy buildings (they scream, we are in the Middle East now!), and cars honking were left behind as we slowly drifted down the river. Fishermen (fisher people?) were out in their long thin boats sometimes used as their homes. Address: The Nile River 🙂

What was most outstanding was the sun set. A spectacular orange foggy glow appeared as the sun set. As this was the first teacher event, I spent most of my time conversing with new colleagues and discovering what drove them to teaching in Egypt.

Jade, on the other hand, spent time at a special place at the back of the boat with another teen which of course made her experience even more wonderful. Her words after we docked the boat, “This was the best day in Egypt so far!”

I love those words.

Wonder when I will hear them again.

Maybe tomorrow at the pyramids?