Thursday, June 10, 2010

Walk of Shame

Of course Cairo is one of those insane cities with tons of traffic and no sidewalks and irregular road patterns. Still, I was all set to walk to playgroup this morning with the girls. I looked at a map ahead of time, planned out our route, and set out in semi-confidence.

We hit a snag - well, quite a few snags, actually - but it wasn't anything that couldn't be straightened out with a friendly query to a passerby to set us in the right direction. At one crucial juncture, after I'd already made a lot of wrong turns and was running out of patience, we came upon a posse of loitering men. I asked them which way to go on Road 12 in order to reach my destination, which house number I gave them. They asked a few follow-up questions, consulted amongst themselves, and then called over a few neighboring loiterers to come join the conference. Seriously, guys were walking over from down the street to try to figure out which way we should go (that's why I never feel bad for getting lost here - even the natives aren't really sure where stuff is). Finally they reached a consensus and sent us on our way. I was really grateful to them for taking time from their loitering to help me, and thanks and you're welcomes were amply exchanged.

Except we went the way they said, and it was the wrong way. Now I had to turn around and walk right back past them with no way to hide the fact that they had been wrong and I was suffering for it. AWKWARD. I have dubbed it the Walk of Shame.

Sure enough, I came upon the original group of men and they were all, "hey, what happened?" I tried to explain but mostly just smiled and said thanks anyway. But since they had been so kind to call in their friends from all down the street, I got to smile and thank my way all. the way. down. the street, as each of them called out at me as I walked by to see what the deal was. Let's just say it was a long walk of shame.

Seriously, though, Cairo, what is your damage? I would be walking along looking for, say, Road 15. I'd pass Road 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, and then all of a sudden it was Road 72. What the?!? Stuff like that happened not just once, but several times over the course of our walk. Roads would end unexpectedly, the main road would go not straight through a traffic circle but bend off to the side - crazy, frustrating stuff. Add in the stroller and the 4.5-year-old and you can imagine the fun.

The best part is these super busy roads they have here that you need to cross, but the traffic never lulls. Which isn't a problem if you're a lone pedestrian - all those hours playing Frogger as a kid really come in handy. What makes it really fun is when a) the curbs are really high and b) you have a stroller with you. So not only do you need to find a gap in at least one lane of the fast-moving traffic big enough to physically get yourself across, you have to budget in the time to tip the wheels of the stroller down the curb. And then up the curb at the other side. And you have to make sure you tip the stroller right the first time, because there is no margin of error for a second chance. It's actually rather thrilling.

We eventually made it to our destination and thanks to another glance at a map, we found a much easier route home. No more walks of shame. At least not today.


Anonymous said...

A friend of mine from Oregon sent me to your blog. Wonderful reading! I was in Cairo in 1995 with a BYU study group. One of my best memories was the day the Professor sent us on a scavenger hunt. Yes, the "Frogger" analogy is not lost on me now nor was it then. It is simply, completely true. It took us from sun up to sun down to complete the hunt.... what a day full of adventure and mishap. Greetings from the Pacific NW!

Susanne said...

I remember reading one time that even if Arabs don't know where something is, they won't admit it. They'll give you directions even if they are wrong. Maybe that's a man trait not Arab one. ;)

In Syria I remember my husband chuckling that you didn't really have to know exactly where you were going because there was always some guys loitering around to ask for directions.

Hope you enjoyed play group despite the Walk of Shame. :)

AmandaStretch said...

You probably already know this, but the common definition of "Walk of Shame" is the, ahem, morning after trip home in last night's clothes.

So you may get some new interesting blog hits. :)

Otherwise, I totally feel your pain! Way too often, I'm walking down a sidewalk, realize I'm going the wrong direction (or left something in my car), and suddenly turn around walk the other way. I always feel like people think I must be crazy.

Bridget said...

Wow, I did not know that. Should I change it? Or not, because it was an honest mistake??

Liz Johnson said...

HAHAHAHA re: your blog title. That's awesome.

I'm so sorry about your walk of shame. Is it just me, or is Egypt kind of out to get you this summer?

Jeanerbee said...

Wow. Walking to a PLAYGROUP... in EGYPT! I'm sorry you got lost!

Merkley Jiating said...

The good ol' playgroup walk of shame. I hope Jeremy knows what you've been up to!

I am impressed with how on top of things you are even though you're living in Egypt. You are amazing!

Bridget said...

Liz, Egypt is out to get everyone, in general. I'm ok with it. I'll try to write some super positive posts soon. The truth is, stuff like this is totally fun, after the fact. It builds character.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I never heard that 'walk of shame' meant something particular.

Does Google Earth work for navigating the messy Cairo streets? Or did they give up on that before they started?

Anna said...

Are those baseball diamonds southeast of your starting point? Also, I didn't know what the walk of shame was until we came to Nebraska. In the university Greek housing it is a big deal, apparently.

Anonymous said...

What you need is a personal GPS.

Kathy Haynie said...

As always, I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for blogging!

Kristen said...

Ha ha, imagining your walk of shame is hilarious. Sorry.

And the Walk of Shame can be anything humiliating, no need to change it.


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