Captain and Nifa
I always arrived in the dining room early enough to enjoy several cups of coffee and read USA Today before I had to get on the bus that took us out in to the desert. It wasn't until you left the parking lot that reality set in. (See Guard Post and Rock Sales photos.) We rode air conditioned tour buses to work, same size as our Greyhounds and our route took us out the desert road along one side of Cairo Airport. One of the first things one notices are the guard posts every fifty yards. If you look closely, you can see what appears to be a scarecrow. Not really, but to enemy eyes it looks as though two guards are at the post. For shelter, the guards have a cardboard box or one similar to the photo. The piece of corrugated metal is a gate! What should be a cyclone fence appears to be hog wire in need of much repair. The barrel? Never did figure that out. Could have been for water or maybe trash although I never did see a bumper sticker that said, "DON'T MESS WITH CAIRO."
Just past this guard shack, the road turned left and became a two lane, pot hole marked instrument of death. Egyptians invented "chicken." I have first hand knowledge of this. In most cases the road is too narrow to pass without one driver giving way. The driver who gives way runs the risk of becoming stuck in the soft sand on the shoulder. I chided our bus driver one time about forcing drivers off the road and he told me, "I gave him my lights." This meant he had used the high beam handle to flip rapidly at the other driver who was repeating the signal at us.
In the Rock Sales photo take note of the squad tent. It was pitched about fifty feet from the road in the middle of nowhere. An old man usually squatted in the entrance and being the nosey type, I asked our driver what he did. He told me, he sold rocks. Now that desert is full of rocks, there for the taking. But see, I did not understand Egyptian commerce. Sure enough, one morning we had to wait for a farm tractor pulling a trailer loaded with rocks to enter traffic. Looking closer I saw they were uniform in shape and size and they were for cement work. Learn something every day.
Not a single day passed that we didn't see at least one or more accidents, most of them fatal. I won't provide the gory details here. Most of them involved fellahin, farmers on their way to town, fifteen or more in a half ton Toyota or Datsun pickup, galabayas flying, the springs on the trucks compressed to the axles. This disrupts the geometry steering of a vehicle and I am sure contributed to a lot of wrecks. That and speed and reckless abandon. They have a saying, ENSHALLAH, literally translated, God willing. If a person lives or dies in a wreck you always hear, "Enshallah."