Straining my eyes the entire the descent trying to catch a glimpse of the pyramids at night, I landed in Cairo June 11, 2013 at 11:30 PM. Little did i know I was about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. A journey to my very heart.
I had arranged airport pickup prior to my arrival, and after a long wait at the luggage carousel, I was a little nervous the person would get tired of waiting or think I’d missed the flight! It was intensely relieving to see a driver holding a small sign with my name on it. He was very friendly and after opening the front passenger door for me, he offered me a cigarette which I figured I was going to need, and off we went into the Cairo night in a cloud of smoke with Arabic music blaring on his pretty much busted speakers. A nightmare for many, but I was in heaven. I’ll admit that it took all of my nerves of steel to get make it through that drive during certain parts.
Even at 1:00 in the morning, Cairo is a bustling city and traffic is heavy. My driver was on the highway in what seemed like his own lane, in any case he was completely outside any marked lanes, but I soon found that was pretty normal. Road rage isn’t something I witnessed, people actually honk at each other and then proceed to cut each other off in the most bizarre way. I live in Miami, a city were despite the lovely weather we’re very much prone to road rage, so I couldn’t believe my eyes that nobody became upset at this.
After about 30 minutes I started to recognize some of the scenery from travel blogs I’d visited and I started getting pretty emotional. Finally when I caught a glimpse of the historic Tahrir Square and there were tears in my eyes. I had arrived in Cairo and although the only person I had met was this Coptic Christian driver, I felt I was among family.
After about 5 minutes he stopped the car and pointed to what looked like a very old and run down building. As a fellow traveler put it ‘you think you are being punked’ , but I knew from my research that inside, on the 3rd floor, was a charming hostel that would be my home for the next 3 days. Paris Hotel. To be continued…