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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Safety in Egypt - More Thoughts

While walking up to the bakery and laundry shops today, I passed this construction site. (It sometimes seems that all of Cairo is a construction site!) We have been walking past it for the last month. Notice that the construction materials are left standing by the street. The bricks and bags of mortar mix do not get stolen. And no kids seem to be playing "knock the bricks over into the traffic." That sort of thing just doesn't seem to happen.

There are lot of kids on every block. There are lots of watchful eyes too. People seem quite connected to their families and neighbors. The bawab is usually out in front of his building keeping an eye on things too.

There is one safety hazard though. Traffic. Here you see the typical three columns of cars squeezed into what we would doubt was space for two lanes. Notice the motorcycle passing everyone by zipping up the shoulder.

Now since pedestrians walk in the streets here, you do have to keep your wits about you. That motorcycle could also be a taxi taking advantage of a chance to pass a couple of cars or trucks.

One evening, a motorcycle trying to squeeze by a tree like this bounced off the bus he was passing and I thought he might lose control and be coming my way. But he kept it upright and buzzed past.

Worse yet, while we are walking facing the traffic like this, a car might come up behind us going the opposite direction. This can be particularly surprising at night. They always honk - but everyone is honking!

"Look both ways" in Cairo means look ahead and look behind you too!

Here I am glancing back - mostly to watch this load of lumber. I'm not sure if those guys are carpenters or just lumber unloaders bringing materials to the jobsite.

Part of the traffic congestion problem comes from the variety of vehicles on the road. Here are a couple of farmers returning home after making some deliveries to the market.

If you are wondering what is on the back of that wagon, it is empty crates. They might have contained tomatoes, eggs, chickens or other farm produce. Here is a closer look at one. They are found everywhere in town.

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