>> Monday, 30 March 2009
Yes, we've arrived. Despite the post that follows we're having a fabulous time. There's so much to write about I hardly know where to begin, so I'll start with this...
A short guide to taxi journeys from Cairo Airport
For the taxi driver:
Hang around the arrivals lounge at Cairo Terminal 2 late in the evening for the London flight to arrive.
Scan the passengers for potential fares as they arrive. Pay particular attention to families who look as if they were rather expecting to arrive at Cairo Terminal 1, where there is a state-sponsored taxi-stand. Narrow that down to families with small children and a buggy, who really can’t face the shuttle bus between the two terminals, and hang around incessantly offering them your services until they give in just to shut you up.
If you have prepared properly you will have parked your car in the furthest ‘close’ car park, which can only be reached by a seat of precipitous steps. The reasons for this will become clear shortly.
Of particular importance is to be able to quote a well-known marque when the fare asks you what type of car you drive. Peugot is a good one. No need to mention that it is 30 years old, falling apart, and does not posess rear seat belts until you all reach the car at the far side of the car park and they can’t face the walk back to the terminal with their luggage and buggy. The all important steps are of particular use here in helping them reach the right decision...
Ensure you treat all road signs, traffic signals and lane markings with cavalier disregard once your journey begins.
Should you yourself have a seatbelt pay no attention to it. In fact, the fashionable option seems to be to let it hang carelessly out the bottom of your door as you drive along, in 'Yes, I have a seatbelt, but why bother to use it?' kind of a statement.
Pay no attention whatsoever to the supersized rear-view mirror taking up most of the width of your windscreen.
Use your horn to indicate your intention to change lanes –indicators are for wimps or Europeans.
Similarly headlights; sidelights are all you need, it may be 1.00am but dipped headlights are only required when you want to flash the sucker in front to move over to make an extra lane so you can rattle past.
For the older child in the family
As you climb on board be sure to ask, wide-eyed, if you are going to die in this car because there are no seat belts.
For added impact, ask this loudly and in your father’s hearing (your mother will reward you later).
Then fall asleep and snore as if you have not a care in the world.
For the younger child
Stay wide-awake throughout the 45 minute drive to the hotel, asking repeatedly and at pertinent moments why the taxi driver is driving ‘like that’. Why, mama, why?
For the father
Preparation for this trip began weeks ago. No matter what your beloved spouse suggests, hold firm to your view that booking a taxi from the airport to the hotel is expensive and unnecessary. There is, after all, a government sponsored taxi stand at Terminal 1, Cairo airport.
Ignore her gentle reminders of similar situations in the past when you have ended up in death-traps disguised as taxis on Barbados and Mauritius, on one occasion being pulled over by the police and having them lecture you on the irresponsibility of taking a cab without a child-seat. You knew this. Why did they bother to tell you if it wasn’t to embarrass you? It’s not like you’re going to do it again...
On arriving at Cairo, fortuitously forget your previous telling off from the police in Barbados and in the absence of the state-sponsored taxi rank, find yourself a helpful local guy who offers to take you to your hotel for a cut-rate price in his limo.
On realising that to call the taxi a 'limo' is an act prosecutable under the trade descriptions act, decide to go with it anyway. You know there’ll be hell to pay with the missus but it’s late, you’re tired and what else are you going to do?
Ignore her muttered curses and exclamations as she holds tight to her children whilst the taxi driver weaves through the traffic and you sit safely in the front with your seat belt on. There is nothing you could say to make it better at this point, anyway...
Although if you do decide to open your mouth about the situation, the statement 'They drive like maniacs in Cairo. In a controlled way, of course.' may not be quite what it takes to get you out of the doghouse.
See the taxi.
Realise that you have been proved right yet again – and that you should have booked the damn cab via the hotel yourself...