Egyption History & Travel - 2010

three classes: the royals who were immensely powerful in every way, the merchants and craftsmen in the middle, and the peasants at the bottom of the pyramid. There is no real tradition of either democracy or capitalism in Egypt. The capital city of ancient Egypt moved about at the whim of the Pharaohs and even of Alexander the Great, but the current capital city is clearly the biggest city in the country, Cairo. This huge metropolis contains 22 million of Egypt's people. It is spread out enormously and it is congested, smoggy, dirty, and still vibrant with street life, night life, great restaurants, good hotels, amazing houses of worship, and the looming presence of the Great Pyramids hovering above and so near to downtown. We were really amazed to see that the Great Pyramid of Giza is clearly visible in many parts of the city, rather like Mt. Rainier so clear outside of Seattle! The mountain and the pyramid might be near each other in age—well, not really, but they are both staggering backdrops. Our guide warned us about the traffic in Cairo and if anything his rather outrageous comments turned out to be understatements. He told us that the white lines in the streets are merely suggestions which no one heeds, that traffic lights are non-existent, that most drivers never take a driving test or possess a license to operate a vehicle, that we would share the roads with horse-drawn buggies, heavily laden burros, and pedestrians who must take life-threatening chances to get anywhere. The moving vehicles would often get so close to each other that only the proverbial coat of paint separated them. Yet we never saw any contact. But the most amazing thing about all this was the fact that the traffic did actually move despite all this and that we never saw an accident of any sort. Not only that, the traffic flowed without constant horn blowing, screeching brakes or shrieking tires. However, it did move ever so slowly! Trips of a few blocks would take half an hour or more. To drive across the city took much longer. Yet, like the drivers in India, the Egyptians were polite and considerate—road rage is not a big problem here even though driving a vehicle is frustrating and frightening. But before we could begin to feel relatively benign about Cairo traffic, we were told many are killed in traffic accidents each year, more pedestrians than drivers or passengers in cars or trucks! As congested as are the roads however the place where we suffered the most claustrophobia due to the enormous population of Cairo was the prestigious, must-be- visited National Museum of Cairo—the home of so much of Egypt's archeological treasure. It had to have been 100 degrees inside when we visited and there is no air- conditioning! The crowds had to move as one organism because there was simply no

11

Made with FlippingBook flipbook maker