Egypt #1 – First days in Egypt

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The traffic in Egypt is crazy. It seems only one rule applies: squeeze into a free space, even if that will block everyone, yourself included.

Cars, minibuses and trucks are old and their exhaust gases envelop the city in a grey smog cloud. Drivers use their horn, not to prevent an accident, but compulsively, probably to check that they are still alive, like one would pinch themselves. Pedestrians nearly all walk on the road, along the sidewalk instead of the sidewalk. It is understandable, given the amount of obstacles one encounters there: shop displays, potholes, parked cars, trees planted in the middle of the pavement, construction wastes, garbage. At every crossroad, the sidewalk itself becomes the obstacle, being sometimes 30 cm high.
The pedestrians walking on the road, and the drivers adapting to that situation, show that the space allocated to cars is disproportionate. I wonder about the number of car accidents that occur per day in Egypt. I am told by a doctor that they happen often but that these are seldom fatal, given the slowness of the circulation. Fair enough, but still…

The Nile Delta is one of the most densely populated places in the world. Its average population density is 2,300 inhabitants per square kilometer over a 24,000 km2 area. That figure explains the crazy traffic. I hence decide to take a train to reach Cairo, situated about 200 kilometers south of Alexandria, as I don’t see myself breathing all those exhaust gasses, and risk an accident while cycling. On my way to the train station, a taxi driver bumps into my trailer in the middle of a traffic jam. According to him, the collision happened because I am the one who stopped. He was driving behind me. In a traffic jam. Taking the train seems to be a good idea!

When arriving in Cairo, on my way to my hostel, two young cyclists, Mohammed and Anas, stop next to me at a traffic light. They ask me all sorts of questions about who I am, where I come from, what I’m doing in Egypt, etc… We talk for a few minutes and I understand that they are coming back from the monthly critical mass. After leaving them, just before reaching my hotel, a car bumps into my trailer while I’m waiting at a red light. Again! The train, definitely, was the better option…


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