Cairo, Egypt

  • Date
  • 1 November 2000
  • Lodging
  • Marriott
  • Distance
  • 489 KM
  • Total
  • 106093 KM

Up until 100 kilometers before Cairo, we traveled on a tarmac road separating tall, dusty desert hills on one side and the crystal clear Red Sea on the other. Sadly the brilliant turquoise and lapis blue colors of the water were diminished by the half-completed, abandoned, cement resorts cluttering the coastline. Something must have happened – perhaps a law protecting the virgin coral reefs or a major downturn in the economy, funding or aid – to cause the cancellation of more than 30 costly, although shoddy-looking projects. (See photos on 9 November 2000 when we returned to the Red Sea.) Just before Suez we veered inland toward Cairo. Fifty kilometers before the massive city of 16 million people, we passed nothing except desert, desert mountains and huge lorries. Once in Cairo proper, the city materialized and came to life as traffic sped, zoomed, inched and dodged around us. I tried driving calmly in the outside lane, but the chaotic bustle churned nonstop, forcing me to join the stressful, manic game of driving. Drivers, almost all male, in mostly old, battered cars darted from lane to lane and incessantly tooted their piercing horns. The taxi we hired to lead us to our hotel veered from one lane to the next asking other drivers for directions, even though we’d been assured he knew the way to our hotel! Despite the flurry of traffic chaos irking me at times, I fancied being in Cairo, such a vibrant, historical and happening place.