First 24 hours in Cairo

October 6, 2008 § Leave a comment

Where do I start? Perhaps yesterday morning at Cairo Airport. The place is a total madhouse, I discovered as I joined the end of the longest passport queue in the world at 2:45am. Within 10 minutes, people were cutting the line. Passengers started to yell at one another. Customs guy started to yell at the passengers. Passengers started fighting. Customs guy stood on his chair and shouted in Arabic what I assumed is ‘Shut the fuck up everyone’.

I stood quietly in my queue for a good hour and cleverly managed to sneak myself into the ‘express’ lane for those with an Australian passport. I was feeling extremely pleased with myself and walked out of customs to meet the driver sent by my couchsurfing host David who was meant to pick me up. The feeling of satisfaction evaporated as I saw what can only be described as a zoo at the arrivals hall. It was almost 4am and the place was chaotic as hell. Of course I didn’t find the driver and was just about to give in to one of the ridiculous cab fares when I met Joe. It turns out he works in the American airforce and was also waiting for his friends to come out of crazy customs. Most importantly, he lived in Maadi, where I wanted to go. Naturally I hitchhiked a ride with him.

Airforce Joe very kindly spent the next hour trying to help me find David’s place but to no avail. So together with his friends, off I went to his American Embassy apartment. I kept trying to contact David but no luck. It was almost 7am. So I did the next best thing and called Sarah, an English expat couchsurfer who had given me her number in Cairo.

Me: Hi Sarah, it’s Steph from couchsurfing, remember me? Sorry to wake you up but I’m kinda stuck in some random stranger’s place in Maadi, can I come over and hang out at your place until I find David?

Sarah: What? Am I in some kind of a mind-fuck? Oh, Steph! Um, yeah sure!

Me: Cool! I’ll be there in 10 minutes!

Airforce Joe was even nice enough to drive me to Sarah’s, and Sarah was nice enough to offer me to a room at the last minute. Oh, did I mention Sarah lives in a gorgeous super-big apartment and went out and bought me expensive sheets to sleep on? She also has her own driver and maid, and my washing will be done this afternoon by the magic cleaning fairy. Apparently this was how most expats lived. As I lounge around in her balcony, sipping my Vodka Peach and looking down on one of the many AK47-carrying guards ‘protecting’ the streets of Maadi, I thought to myself, what the? I feel like I’m in some kinda mind-fuck myself. Can this be real?

Couchsurfing rocks.

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