Now that I’m home, I’ve tried to educate myself about the pilgrims who crowded into the Cairo Airport the same night I arrived. I shared some of the answers last week, but I left Bill and I standing with our niece in a huge, noisy crowd. At first there was the initial small talk of arrival, but soon it was apparent Mirette thought it was high time for Ayman to rescue us from our perch among the milling pilgrims.
Looking for Ayman
After a few minutes of chatting, Mirette began to scan the passing cars for her husband, with the international expression of, “where is he?” Soon she was describing the car Ayman was driving to Bill. Then they began to discuss how far away the car had been parked. When they moved the conversation into Arabic, I got worried.
Then Ayman himself hurried up, but on foot, not in the car, which was perplexing in and of itself. He explained the crowds became too large, so the police shut down one of the roads. He’d found another parking spot as close as he could get, but we still had to walk some.
Even though the time was nearing midnight, walking didn’t sound like a problem, as long as we had a cart for the luggage. Then we came to a set of stairs and I wasn’t really happy about that. The collapsing handle on one of the bags quit working before we ever left Dallas and would have to be carried. The condition of the sidewalks and streets suggested rolling the checked bags would also be a challenge, but I saw no other alternative.
Each of the girls grabbed a carry-on bag, leaving the larger bags to the men. Then, at the bottom of the stairs, I found a cart! Either someone had left it or God had deposited there for my benefit. Either way we were saved. We loaded up the new cart and continued on our way.
Ayman and Bill pushed the luggage-laden cart through the obstacle course. A few feet along the sidewalk and then down a curb. Then a good long haul through parking areas, weaving in-between cars when necessary. Up a curb, over a sidewalk, down a curb, across a street, up a curb and finally we could see the car.
Halting the cart, each of the fellows picked up a bag to put in the trunk. While their backs were turned, the cart took off like a rocket. I shouted and ran after the careening cart, but my shouts were lost in the other noises around us. The cart skewed off the sidewalk, fell to its side and dumped the bags into the street.
A couple of pilgrims watched from afar. You’d have thought they were watching moss grow on a stone for all the reaction the cart and I got. Bill and Ayman looked at me as if the bags strewn in the middle of the street were somehow my fault. All I could think of was the bottles of scotch. You do remember the scotch, don’t you? Would my suitcases be full of glass shards and alcohol-soaked clothes?
We’ll find out together. Come back next week for my first impressions of Cairo outside the airport.