Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Prompt #22 - Transport

Prompt #22 of 30 Days of Indie Travel
The word travel comes from a French word meaning “work” and sometimes, getting there is work. Between crowded buses, long airline delays, overnight trains and crazy rickshaw rides, transportation can be stressful, but it can also be a rewarding part of the tip. Tell us about a time when the journey became more important than the destination.

This prompt very quickly brought back a favorite memory of mine that I think pretty well conveys how accustomed I was getting to Cairo before I had to leave. 

On what turned out to be my last full day in Cairo before being evacuated, I took a minibus for the first and second times. Minibuses in Cairo are... interesting. Particularly when your Arabic leaves a lot to be desired. And particularly when you're a foreign woman. The first time, I was with my roommate Matt. We had bought some koshari and were bringing it to Tahrir with us, and our fellow passengers had plenty of questions for us, like why the hell foreigners were headed to Tahrir. But Matt handled most of the talking, since his Arabic is considerably better than mine, and pretended to be my boyfriend when the dude I was talking to turned out to be a bit too interested. But the ride back home was much more entertaining, for me at least.

On the way back, Matt was talking to an Egyptian friend he had made, and the dude kinda creeped me out, so I was walking a bit separate from them, further ahead. As we got back to the side of the river we lived on, where the roads were pretty much clear and a few minibuses were still running, I saw a minibus up ahead and dashed for it, not wanting to walk the rather long distance home from downtown if I didn't have to. I assumed Matt was behind me, but I was more interested in the bus. He wasn't behind me. Whatever, I got on. I was, of course, in the seat farthest from the door. I did have a window though, so I was fine with it as that meant sitting next to fewer possible creepers. I was ok with it until I realized I had to get off first, because this bus was going all the way to the 'burbs and I lived on the outskirt of the city, but still inside the city. In a bout of what I like to think of as Egyptian ingenuity, I climbed out the sliding window while we were stopped at a red light (we were one of te only vehicles on the road).

I'd like you to picture that. A white, young 20s woman climbing out the side, rear window of a dingy Egyptian minibus at a red light. It was a small victory. But it was awesome. I was figuring out how to get along in Cairo. If only I hadn't had to leave the next day...

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