Hans' arrival on Thursday of last week has meant less time in writing and reflection and more time out and about, taking in some of the cultural richness of Cairo. Having traveled here before, we've not taken in the Pharaonic monuments, and have opted instead to explore more of the culture of the Common Era. We've spent time exploring Coptic as well as Islamic Cairo.
|Bread delivery in progress|
As you might guess, "safety first" is not a motto that I've ever heard spoken in Egypt and it's true that much of what I see out my car window makes me cringe with worry. I would not allow anyone I know to do some of the things that pass for legal on the roads of Cairo.
|Stock image, when I've seen it, there's often a man on top.|
That said, I've realized something as we made our way through Monday morning rush hour traffic this week. The constant flow of horns around us are rarely an expression of frustration - the way I often hear horns at home. Instead they signal presence and caution to other drivers: Toot! Coming up on your right side. Honk! Merging in from the left. Beep! Beep! Beep! Motorcycle coming up the path between cars.
I've long thought Cairo traffic was simply chaotic. This week I've begun to witness the complex dance that is being choreographed outside my window. To maneuver traffic in Cairo is to make your way through a complex and crowded environment where the safest thing is to maintain flow and movement, but where drivers do that with constant awareness of everyone and everything around them. Traffic in Cairo is an exercise in awareness that we are not the only people in a hurry with places to go and people to see. And what looks like chaos, may actually be a complex exercise where everyone is doing their part to meet their needs, while also caring for the wellbeing of their neighbors surrounding them.
Maybe that's a more poetic analysis than traffic deserves. But there's something about what I see from my passenger seat that looks to me like a beautiful, chaotic, choreographed dance.