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Monday, March 16, 2015

Adjusting to the Cairo Culture

It surprises me sometimes the extent to which we adapt to the Egyptian culture.  A few nights  ago we were coming home from a trip to the other side of town and found ourselves caught in a rush-hour traffic jam.  On our side of the divided road, there were four lines of vehicles occupying the three marked lanes.  We probably spent about an hour moving two miles.  As we progressed southbound, three cars appeared two lanes to our right moving north.  I didn't even think about taking a picture until well after they had fought their way through and were well beyond us.

I imagine that it seldom even occurs to a Minnesotan stuck in a freeway or downtown traffic jam that they could just turn around and head the other way to the nearest exit.  Here, going the wrong way is simply an expedient thing to do at times.

Most people didn't turn around though.  But here is one I photographed as he was finishing his turn-about and backing out into the traffic.

At the next gap in the center-median, a number of people took advantage of another option.  They pulled over into the adjacent southbound lanes and headed north.  This is not at all unusual here.  Note how most drivers going the "wrong way" will hug the left side of the road.  Keep your eyes open for these folks whether you are driving or walking.
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A year ago, I posted a YouTube video showing a similar maneuver with vehicles passing the "wrong way"on both sides of someone going the "right way."  I can only imagine the utter panic that would strike a stateside driver seeing this happen.  But here, it just seems like a natural reaction to a bad situation.


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