The Sights and Sounds of Cairo: Arrival and Accostation

The hooting of car horns, the trill of bicycle bells, shouts, and calls to prayer float past the open window I am sitting near in an oversized cushy armchair at my dear friend Brittany's apartment in Cairo.  I arrived in Egypt early Tuesday morning from Nairobi ready to navigate my way to Dokki, armed with directions from Brittany and instructions on how to find a taxi. 

As soon as I walked out of the terminal I was accosted by a swarm of taxi drivers, but being the seasoned negotiator of cab fares thanks to my daily taxi rides in Nairobi I bartered down the prices from 100 Egyptian pounds (LE).  I climbed in the back of the taxi and confirmed with my driver that the price was reasonable.  The driver, Ahmed, was very talkative for 3 AM and once leaving the airport he pulled over to the side of the road and insisted I move to the front so I could chat more easily with him.  Warily I moved up to the front seat since he refused to drive further otherwise.  Red flag number 1: women do not ride in the front of a taxi when unaccompanied and alone.  He kept his friendly demeanor and pointed out tourist sites as we drove through the city.  Red flag number 2: he started asking me what the English word was for parts of his face including his mouth.  As we crossed the Nile he once again pulled the car over under the guise of showing me the river.  It was then the accostation began (accostation: a combination of accost and molestation) and he decided it was appropriate to touch my leg and ask me to kiss him or "give him lip/mouth."  After playing dumb for as long as possible I finally explained politely that I was indeed married (I had been forewarned of Egyptian men's proclivity to hit on western women with the assumption that we are all promiscuous and wore a ring on my left hand just in case). 

Once we finally arrived at Brittany's apartment I went to pay him the agreed upon amount.  Drama ensued.  He feigned no knowledge of our agreement and argued with us for 20 minutes trying to force me to pay 100 LE instead of 40 LE because he claimed he was a "limo" rather than a taxi.  I informed him he was not driving a limo and I wasn't paying him any more than what we agreed upon.  In a very inappropriate un-Egyptian manner he followed us into the apartment building and refused to leave until he received his 100 LE.  Brittany went to get the rest of the money and then he had the audacity to ask for more saying the 100 was for the car and he should get paid more driving me.  Acting very culturally inappropriate we told him in no uncertain terms he was to leave the premises and Britt hurled some bawdy Arabic in his direction and pushed him out the door.  Once in the apartment we could see him stand outside and complain to the guards but fortunately they sent him on his way without causing a larger scene.

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