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Friday, October 29, 2010

Living in Cairo: Transportation other than Taxis

When we were assigned Cairo, we had many decisions to make.  We had already made quite a few decisions when we packed out of Utah - freezer, sell or keep?  How about the Christmas tree stand, or outdoor shelving, or a painting degree's worth of work?  By the time we got to Arlington, most of our things had had their fate decided.

However, the last major possession we owned, our car, was still up for debate.  I had gotten our car, a 1996 Honda Civic, before my sophomore year of college and it had faithfully transported first me, and then Brandon and me, and then Kathleen, Brandon and me, and finally Sophia, Kathleen, Brandon and me wherever we needed to go.  I don't remember how many times it crossed the country before we took it out to Arlington with us.

Despite it's nobility, our car was old, and so we sold it to a family member for their son, who promptly crashed it.  So that was the end of Lester.

Like everyone with State, we had the ability to ship a car to Cairo with us.  Brandon and I had been to Cairo previously, however, and had spent seven months here without any transportation other than taxis and the metro.  We weren't up for buying a new car, and I wasn't too excited about driving in Cairo, so we decided to simply go without for the two years of our post.

Most days having no car presents no problems at all.  The Embassy has limited parking, and so runs a shuttle service for employees, most of whom ride the shuttle instead of battling traffic to and from work.  In addition to the shuttle, we live half a mile from a metro stop, which is in turn half a mile from the Embassy.  Most days Brandon takes the shuttle in, the metro home, and only smells like the locals for his troubles.

The children and I spend most days at home.  Now that the heat is abating, we may take a walk in the afternoon, and Kathleen's primary mode of transportation is her red tricycle, whom she recently named Cannonball (entirely on her own).  Sophia and I walk, and Edwin rides on my back.

To get to and from church on Fridays, Sophia and Edwin ride in our red double jogging stroller and Kathleen and I walk.  Once I had another American woman leaving the pool tell me that she had seen me and the children walking to church the previous day.  On another Friday, a LDS teacher with a tour group was in a taxi that couldn't find the church.  She saw us crossing the street, told the taxi to stop, and followed us to church.  We always make a scene.

On the days where our feet are not sufficient, I resort to cars.  Occasionally I will get a ride from a friend, but mostly I use Ayman.

He is driver who I use if I need to get somewhere not well known, or if the route is complicated.  I also use him to get to the commissary, which involves USG security.  If I need dependability, I call Ayman.  He is always on time, he never tries to talk to me, he never argues the fare, and with one exception, he or his drivers always know where they are going.  He is minor Cairene miracle.

Next time: taxis


PaulaJean said...

Frankly, I wouldn't want to drive in Cairo, either. It's Boston at its worse, with donkey carts. In Arabic.

Bridget said...

I would say a MAJOR Cairene miracle.

I think we used you to find the church once, too, when we first got to the city. Something about you just screamed MORMON. :)