“If you can drive in Cairo, you can drive anywhere,” is what people keep telling me. Since I first landed in Egypt, I have never doubted it. While there may be laws about driving here, nobody actually follows them. Instead, drivers abide by some unwritten code that all locals seem to be aware of. What I have learned is that communication with other drivers is key. Whether you tap the horn in a special way, flash your lights at an intersection to warn drivers of your approach, or shout out your window to the next car or pedestrian for directions, people are always alert and exchanging
Cairo is a city of constant traffic; where getting over the 6th of October bridge, which connects downtown to the Cairo International Airport, can take you anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours depending on the time of day and well, luck. Getting stuck in traffic, while inconvenient, doesn’t stop people from getting things done. Vendors sell a variety of random items like herbs to Afro wigs to, at this time of year, fanoos for Ramadan. You learn to have a social life from the comfort of your, hopefully, air-conditioned car. I once even saw a guy trying to negotiate a job with the driver of another vehicle. Some are able to seize opportunity from within the chaos.
Parking might be my favorite aspect of this driving culture. You can park anywhere. Really. Anywhere. You can park on the bridges and in the middle of the street and there is even a special way of dealing with double parking. If you are the one double-parking, you should keep your emergency break off so that if the car you blocked needs to get out, the driver can just push your car out of the way. However, sometimes people need to keep the break on for whatever reason. If that is the case, then you must bounce the double parked car out of the way by rocking the car back and forth. It’s quite an entertaining sight. The patience people display is astounding considering the hassle it is to move a car with your own two hands, but everyone accepts it and deals with it and continue to squeeze their car into and out of the smallest spaces I have ever seen attempted.
So yes, there is no doubt that if you can manage to get around Cairo with few scratches, you are probably capable of driving anywhere else in the world. Maybe one day I will also be able to navigate the bustling streets of Cairo myself but for now I will leave it to those with more experience.