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Arrival in Cairo

Arrival in Cairo

After being shook up, thrown around, and tenderized like a soggy plop of hamburger by the taxi man during the ride from the Israeli border, the weary band of travelers had finally arrived at their destination: Cairo.

I was surprised to find that the empty no-man’s-land of the Sinai desert stretches all the way up to the nearest reaches of Egypt’s capital city. A road sign said “Cairo – 25km” but there was still nothing but a road in sight.

Living Egypt is seriously as thin as a snake: a serpent called the River Nile.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Cairo, Egypt- May, 2009
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The minivan taxi drove along on a highway that ran straight towards Cairo, but then shot off on an outer loop around its periphery. I saw nothing that looked anything like a city or habitation center of any sort. All I saw was dirt, dust, and brown. Everything was brown: the road was brown, the sky was brown, the other cars were brown, and a group of men standing together in a group on the side of the highway were also brown.

A group of maybe 20 men were standing on the side road in proximity to a couple of smashed up cars. Traffic actually slowed down a little to navigate through the wreckage. A train of vehicles were parked on the shoulder of the highway so that their drivers could get out to take a closer look at the destruction. The group of men were standing closely packed around something. They were all looking down at the ground.

From my vantage point in the slowly moving minibus, I looked down too.

There was a dead guy. He was wearing a blue pinstripe shirt and looked as if he formerly work in an office.

The driver’s side of his car was smushed to shit.

Traffic then resumed its usual dare devil speed as the collected cars, trucks, and vans all swerved in and out of each other in a great race to some undisclosed finish line.

The only finish line that I noticed was laying dead upon the pavement.

I do not think the fast driving Egyptians took much note.

Arrival in Cairo.

Riding on the Cairo subway — Good action.

Keeping in good relations with the Arab Israelis that we were traveling with paid off. The medical student inquired about where in Cairo I wanted to go. I had no idea. Figuring that the subway would be the best point of provenience, I said, “subway.”

The Israeli yelled up to the driver, telling him where to stop. We were still flying fast on the highway, but the Israeli ordered that we pull over. The minibus grounded down to a halt.

“There,” the medical student told us, “you get out here and walk down there. The subway is there. “

He pointed out away from the highway into apparent nothingness. But Chaya and I believed that he knew what he was talking about — there was not much else that we could do.

We got out of the van, issued a sly goodbye wink to the driver, and went “there.”

Walking down a set of stairs that lead away from the highway we found a parking garage under an over pass. We did not see a subway, though the scene grew crazier as we walked.

We walked on.

Soon, Chaya and I were standing within a scene that could be described as “India crazy.”

People everywhere, cars honking, callers calling, boys sitting in the road picking their toes, crowds moving as organic units, and two backpackers walking into Cairo just as the sun tucked itself down to bed across the western frontier.

We made it: Cairo.

The last pockmark on a ticker tape that went through 13 countries from Budapest to Egypt.

Taba to Cairo
Part 1- This is Egypt – Travel Sinai Desert
Part 2- Minibus Fiascoes and the Dirtiest Toilets in the Egypt
Part 3 – Ain’t Nothing in Sinai Egypt

Arrival in Cairo

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Filed under: Africa, Egypt

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3167 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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