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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Get me to the church on time

I have heard a lot about the traffic in Cairo, but never thought too much of it.  The traffic in my neighborhood is fine, and I am only in a car once every two weeks.  Occasionally there is some traffic, but it was just mildly annoying and I attributed it to an accident, or school letting out, or something else unusual.

Yesterday Brandon had a coworker's wedding to attend.  The one wedding I had the opportunity to attend, we missed because of a confusion about times.  So I offered to come with him so that I can say I've attended one (Coptic) wedding in Egypt.   And I thought that he would like the company.

The wedding started at seven in Heliopolis, so I arranged for a car to pick me up in Maadi, swing by the embassy and drive us up to the church.  The car was going to cost 120 pounds, and a regular taxi would have been cheaper, but I knew there was no way I would ever know where I was going.  And that means the taxi driver wouldn't either.

So at 5:30 I left the children with Rere, met the driver at the door, and we headed to downtown to pick up Brandon.  Brandon called at 6:10 while we were stuck in traffic, halfway up to the Embassy.  Thankfully the traffic cleared in time to pick him up at 6:30, giving us a good thirty minutes to make it to the church.

Traffic was stop-and-go, but by 6:50 we were in Heliopolis, near a church.  Which we passed.  We saw another church, and passed that one too.  And then the driver started asking for directions.

Sometimes he would stop and ask a passer-by, and sometimes he would simply shout out the window to a taxi driving nearby, and every single time the man (because everyone knows not to ask a woman for directions) would say something that completely contradicted the directions we had gotten from the previous man.

And that's how, at 7:20, we were still taking the scenic route through Heliopolis and asking everyone where St. Mark church on Cleopatra street was.  Somebody eventually got the directions right, however, as we passed the Embassy shuttle parked near the church and I knew that we would at least see half a wedding.

I'm not sure why I was excited to go, after listening to half an hour of loud chanting, cymbal crashing, and ululating cries of joy.  After that, we said congratulations and caught a ride with the Embassy shuttle back to the metro downtown.  Following a (relatively) short ride on the metro, we took the final of four modes of transportation for the day, a taxi.

I walked in the door at 9:45, four hours and fifteen minutes after leaving that evening.  Thirty minutes of which was spent at the wedding, thirty minutes waiting around, and three hours and fifteen minutes taking some form of transportation.

One day I'm going to live very, very far away from everyone and walk everywhere I go.


UnkaDave said...

Reminds me of when we were in Cairo and the taxi driver didn't know how to get to the Pyramids. EXCUSE ME?! The flippin' PYRAMIDS?!! Don't you people read about yourselves in National Geographic??!!

Lydia said...

Ah, Coptic weddings. We lived on the backside of a coptic church. Heard that commotion every. single. weekend. Thursday, Friday & Saturday night. Sometimes other nights, too.