Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Learning to Drive in Egypt

I have been driving a vehicle since I was 4 years old. I grew up in rural Utah, USA. I drove my fathers old truck to school. I learned to drive a stick shift before I drove an automatic. In other words I feel comfortable behind the wheel. I moved to Egypt. I got a job teaching in a high school and rode the bus to school every day. The bus was full of screaming children, the seats were to small, and I got there just before school was to start, not to mention the fact that I had to ride on this noise machine for an hour more on the ride home. All in all, not an ideal situation. I got a silver car for my silver wedding anniversary. There was just one problem. This was Egypt. I'm not sure if you've ever visited Egypt, but driving and obeying the rules of driving are unknown there.
I had been out riding with my husband. On the odd occasion, I had even driven to the market area in the gated community where we lived. I had a flash back to high school when my father had gotten into the pick-up truck and said drive. That is basically what my husband said, "This is your car, you need to learn to drive it."
I distinctly remember driving my first time on the ring road by myself. I had to consciously breathe. I was that scared. The ring road in Egypt is that scary! But I did it. I was going to give an English Lesson and didn't want my husband to have to wait for me for two hours. Going back was just as scary as by now it was dark. The cars there flash their headlight too, but some even drive with no lights!
What I remember most is my sense of independence. My sense that I can tackle anything! My sense of accomplishment. I don't want to sound like my husband wasn't supportive. Actually, I couldn't have done it without him, but I was all alone on the road; just me and my car. If I am faced with problems or a task that seems to big, I just remember my little silver car and that road. I can do anything!


  1. Wow - what an amazing story - powerful and also having fear as an element like Adnan's experience in the swimming pool - that is interesting. Well done for taking up the challenge. I have visited Cairo and know what the driving is like so I can understand.

  2. Driving in Manila is similarly difficult....

    I would support the need to have motorists go through examinations before getting their licenses renewed. It's just too easy for experienced drivers to start forgetting how to follow rules. I guess this would be similar to professionals needing to brush up on their skills and knowledge, so as to not get rusty.

  3. I would NEVER have the courage to drive on those insane roads in Egypt, so well done to you for doing it! You must have felt really happy to have done this. Doing something scary and succeeding is really an amazing learning experience :)

  4. That was very courageous of you and it shows that if you have strong will power and dedication then nothing is impossible. In my home country it’s the same story, you will find bad drivers everywhere as there are no proper rules & regulations and people are unaware of driving laws. Similarly in the class room, if student are unaware of course and assessment plan then their performance would be catastrophic.

  5. Your story reminds me of the day I really learned to drive without lights. I was in the Army and in tactical situations you have to drive without headlights all the time. Our battalion was new and we hadn't been issued night vision goggles yet. At the time I was the battalion commanders driver and I have to say the Colonel was always very patient in teaching his driver, a private, how to do his job.
    On this occasion, I was struggling. I couldn't see the road and I hadn't developed a feel for where the middle of the road was (yes, there is one :-)). Finally the Colonel just said to me, "Don't look down, look up," and that made it all clear to me. When you can't see the road, there's no point looking at the road. But you can always tell the difference between the sky (above the road) and the trees on the side of the road. So if you look up, you can see where the road goes.
    I eventually got so good at driving without lights that even now I discover that I've been driving around without my lights on and hadn't even noticed.