Sevcik's Blog

A year in Cairo Egypt

Monday, April 17, 2006

Where's the hole?

When I leave RCG in the morning and head to work, I take a large short-cut by crossing traffic and walking through a hole in a green metal fence that brings me to "under the stairs" by the tram and metro. Jay discovered this path last November and what a blessing it has been to be able to avoid the crowds, stairs, and other issues I'd deal with going the other way.

Last weekend, though, my stroll home from work was confused by the realization that the gate had been barred up! I was walking along like I always do, sneaking through the sides of the stairs to get underneath and walk out the gate. There was no hole. "But there has to be a hole!" I thought. I wasn't the only one thinking this. Loads of people were looking for the hole in utter confusion. Jay later told me when he first discovered the barred up hole he decided to stay around and watch people for awhile as it was a hoot to see people get all confused and convinced that there MUST be a hole somewhere if you just look long and hard enough. They would walk back and forth, back and forth determined to find that hole!

But, there was no hole, sadly. For about one and 3/4 days we had to walk the old way, the very undesirable way. During this time Teri, Jason, Jay, and I wondered (nearly took a bet) on how long the gate would stay up. We weren't certain when we would be able to have our old route back, but we knew it would come! This is Egypt after all.

And it came. First, someone took out a metal pole and people started pushing their way through that. The next day it was blocked off with four new diagonal poles. Shoot. Next day, new hole next to the last attempt. Following day, blocked off again. Shoot. Fourth day a new hole, this time bigger. Along with the new hole came two police guards. The police attempted to keep people away for a day or so, but on the fifth day you found the police stationed 50 meters away from the hole; that way they would still be at their 'post' but really not have to do anything.

This progression was quite a joy to witness. Most of the time I get frustrated by the lack of 'working systems' in Egypt, but for this case I was glad to see Egyptians come through the way I expected them to. They weren't going to settle for less than the best route to the metro. Besides, people make a living under those stairs. There are bread sellers, cookie sellers (not the cookies you're thinking of) and nick-nack sellers. It's good to see them back in business. :-)


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