Episode III: In which our heroes get desperately lost in the same places for more than three hours
Saqqara Travel Blog› entry 3 of 9 › view all entries
I know it's a long title but you'll have to forgive me, I want you the reader to feel a fraction of our irritance at the Cairo roads and the people on them. Everyone knows the correct way to pronounce where you are going, NOBODY knows how to get there. Throughout Cairo we found the same thing, People know the way, but they do not know the directions; even the cabbies. You must tell them to what you want to go, not where. The roads and streets are miles of intertwining Sharias and Dates, there is no real logic to it. Crossing the 6th of October will not lead you to another chronological date, these are merely celebrations of specific days they did battle with Israel. I realize you wouldn't expect 4th of July Boulevard to lead to the 5th of July, however, most US cities have been designed on some sort of grid pattern to allow, even the most lost to wind up at their destination eventually.
The simple fact is that those who drive in Cairo, do so by memory. This was the inherent weakness in our plan. Our host, Sean, drove by memory to Saqqara, our proposed first stop on that day. Several U-turns later we were pinned by an Egyptian Tank Military Base and a Gas Station both of which insisted that Saqqara lie in the opposite of whichever direction we were travelling. Finally, after receiving crude new directions from an alltogether shady one-armed Egyptian who was palling around with a truckful of Police smoking cigarettes on a barricaded road, we ventured back to the main circle of the three or four roads leading out of Cairo and took another. This was also the wrong road, as we learned an hour or so later, finally finding a hotel clerk that spoke fluent English.
We continued to stop every two to seven blocks to ask whoever was milling about whether we should go straight, left or right. If you've ever been presented with the logic problem of Liars and Truthtellers at a Fork In The Road, you'll be happy to know that it's logical application can be found in the back streets of Cairo. Egyptians are never wrong, even when they are. Admitting that they don't know the way to one of their national treasures is apparently more shaming than sending a carful of tourists to a section of town where donkeys are beaten gleefully, and children smoke cigarettes while playing soccer in the middle of a three lane road.