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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Baggage

After being called daily for two weeks by EAS (Egyptian Aviation Services) to come and get Sophia's car seat, I finally gave in and decided to make the trip to Cairo airport. I had already planned to go horseback riding with a friend on Wednesday (one of my Rere days), so I figured that I could make a quick run up and back before we left to go riding at 9:30. I forgot, however, that this is Egypt.

Concerned about traffic, I was relieved to make it to the airport in time, 5 minutes before the operating hours, 9-2. I pulled my nose out of my book, however, to discover that I had told the driver the wrong terminal, 2. Chagrined, I told him that it was the wrong terminal, that I had meant terminal one. He shrugged his shoulders, and asked for directions from one of the 200 men standing around.

After driving away from the airport, past several hotels and a mosque, we arrived at another terminal, terminal 1. Oh, I said, that's not the one I want, I want the other terminal 2, the new one, the one that Lufthansa flies out of. So after some more driving around, another fly by the old terminal two, more questions of unoccupied men, we found our way to the new terminal 2, or rather, terminal 3.

The clock reading 9:15 by now, I was relieved to receive a phone call from the taxi driver who was coming to pick my friend and me up. He was going to be late. Fine, I would still have time. I hopped out of the car, and ran into the terminal. Remembering the instructions of the EAS lady, I was downstairs, to the left. However, EAS was nowhere to be found. I went upstairs, to the left. Still no EAS. Thankful that I had their number on my cell phone, I called them.

Oh, no they were in terminal two, the one that I had started at 20 minutes ago. So, back to the car, and back to the terminal where I finally found EAS just after 9:30 - the time I was supposedly going to be in the other taxi to go riding. However, hope springs eternal, so I called my riding companion, the stable, and the taxi.

Relieved to have finally found EAS, I walked in and asked for my car seat. They looked at me funny and asked for the baggage claim ticket. I didn't have because I was told to bring a passport. So they took the passport, and picked up the phone and started talking to someone for 10 minutes - the way any problem is initially dealt with in Egypt.

I knew I was in trouble when 5 or 6 minutes into the shouted conversation another man kindly waved for me to sit down. Having no other option, I did, and waited until after some book flipping (there was nary a computer in sight) and paper-copying and various other things were completed. At the end of my wait, I followed the waving man who was in possession of passports and a paper. Evidently we needed some policemen to stamp the paper so we could get past security.

So, off we went to find the policemen. Up the stairs, out the terminal, past the end, around the corner, and finally to another shabby room with Egyptian men sitting around in it. When they found out that Brandon works at the embassy, they asked if I knew Obama. I laughed and told them I didn't.

After 50 pounds, our paper was signed and we walked all of the way back to the departure hall. I was again asked to sit down while the kind man went to security. I was told it would only be "3 more minutes" (which is Egyptian for less than 30 but more than 10) while he evidently went back to the room and got the correct documentation which we used to get through the employee's entrance of security. My favorite part of security was the x-ray scanner that my bag had to go through - with nobody watching the screen.

After security, we handed another 10 pounds to passport control in order to access the scary stairway that led to the bowels of the airport containing a very dim room with locked cages and, of course, more Egyptian men sitting around. More books were consulted (once again no computers), the cage was unlocked, and I retrieved Sophia's car seat. After some meaningless signing (one of them on a handwritten paper torn out of a newsprint pad) the car seat was sent up a rolling belt where we retrieved it in the baggage claim. The nice man, after getting 70 pounds out of me (tip? he asked), called the driver and had him meet us outside.

And so I made it back to Maadi, an hour late and 150 pounds poorer. All of this for a car seat that only cost $40 to begin with.

6 comments:

UnkaDave said...

This leaves me with the question still unanswered; why is Egypt not THE superpower, instead of just A superpower?

PaulaJean said...

And what happened to the box with the black beans???

Nisa said...

Wow! Have they changed things? When they lost our stroller, they brought as a different one every night, and by night I mean 1am, for two week before we got the right one!

Crazy Cairo...

Lydia said...

Yeah, Lufthansa brought me a never-ending carousel of car seats that weren't mine between 1-3 am for 2 weeks. Urgh, frustrations.

Jen said...

So when does the made for TV movie come and who do you see playing you?

Latter-Day Guy said...

Well, that sounds like fun. How frustrating.