Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fender Bender

Craziness. That is the only way to describe the traffic here. All sorts of issues could be resolved with a little control and enforcing of traffic laws, but no one seems to care enough to make it happen. I can only imagine what a difference a single traffic light would make!

First of all, there are no lanes. Drive wherever you please. If your car will fit, it is game. If it will fit with just a little side swipe of someone else, hey, that's okay. The road between here and Maadi called Ring Road is madness. Speeding, no rules, slow semis emitting all sorts of toxic fumes, donkeys pulling carts, and pedestrians darting across the road all add to to the daily commute. People here are hit all the time. You only need to live here long enough to see someone dead along side the road. Luckily I haven't seen that yet, but I've heard the stories. Honk if someone ticks you off, honk if you want to merge, honk if someone ahead of you is slow, honk at someone you know, honk to let the person ahead of you know you want to pass him, honk, honk, honk. It's like it's the only traffic rule here...honk.

Today we were in our first accident. Not a bad one. I was with a friend from church, and she has a driver for her family of 9. He is from a touring company, so they sport around in a passenger van complete with hula girls and christmas balls hanging from the ceiling. Yeah, Shar, the one we rode in.

Anyway, I cringe at each close call, but they are so numerous you almost ignore them. But today I'm thinking to myself, he's cutting it way close to this parked car, I guess he knows his van pretty well. Nope, SMASH. We hit a parked car going maybe 30mph. Luckily Catherine and I left our kids home and it was just us in the car with another girl from church.

To the guys credit, the car was double parked. I've seen cars driving the wrong way on freeway entrances, cars backing up in the middle of the freeway, broken down cars galore sitting in the the middle of the road. It's madness.

So the way it works here is there's an accident. Then all the bystanders flock to the accident and commence to give their opinion on the matter and then everyone argues about whose fault it was. We sat in the car for 1 1/2 hours while this went on. Police came and went, it was really none of their injuries.

Usually you're just out of luck. No one carries insurance here. Luckily both cars involved were company vehicles (we hit an oil company's car) so both cars were insured.

All in all, a very interesting cultural experience. Hopefully our last of this kind.

Our van made out pretty well:

Looking out the window down at the damage we did to the other car:


Cath said...

Man oh Man. Ouch! Glad no one was hurt. Hilarious that it's a community affair. And honk! You're so right - the only traffic law. I've never been more afraid for my life than I was in a Cairo taxi! Glad you're keeping us up on all the escapades!

The McIntire Family said...

WOW is all I can say Shirlee---life is never boring over there in Egypt. You amaze me with all of your stories and experiences. I know my mother would LOVE to drive the streets of Cairo when she's there in October.....note sarcasm.

Nancy said...

It's amazing there aren't more accidents--I've only ever seen a few and I've been here nearly 2 years. I'm glad your accident wasn't a bad one!

(Catherine linked to your blog which is how I found it--can I add you to my list?)